Family Value: Self-Motivated

My childhood required me to be self-motivated and driven. It was in part to survive but also because I wanted something new that I hadn’t experienced before.

My wife and I are very self-motivated and driven. This means that we don’t need someone telling us what to do every corner. We do need advice, some guidance, and support along the way. But our dreams and hopes give us fuel to be motivated.

We also value freedom and personal responsibility. Our work will need to speak for itself. The way we carry ourselves and care for others will be signs of our freedom and taking responsibility.

We hope to pass these values on to our boys. We know their path will look different than others. We don’t expect them to be like us or to do the things we do. But we hope that they will learn the value and practices of being self-motivated and to take personal responsibility.

I’m not the smartest person. Really. I’m not. But these values and actions push me to exceed my limited “smartness”.

Self-motivation and drive translates into practices of living out of my hopes and dreams, my goals. It means I’m going to think through my goals and how to reach them. It means I’m going to ask others for help along the way. It means that I don’t need someone telling me, step by step, how to live my life but instead to encourage me to keep discovering, being aware, and taking responsibility.

It’s a different way to parent as well.

My kids grades are a reflection of multiple layers. While I care about the letter, I care about the effort and motivation. And it’s their grades to own. Yes, they need support and we’re here for them. Yes, they might not like certain subjects and struggle with some areas. But ultimately, we want them to own their studies.

There is a lot of empathy and grace for this process. Especially during the pandemic. 🙂

Parenting Ourselves, Faith, and Kids

I love using the end of the year (typically starting late November through the first weeks of January) to assess the previous year and what my hopes and longings are for the following year. Notice I didn’t say GOALS or RESOLUTIONS. My motivation is a lot more focused if I think about my hopes and longings because I believe that’s where God is most likely at work or active in my life, animating these desires by the Holy Spirit.

This year (2021), I want to pay more attention to how God might be at work in my son’s lives and our family unit. I start this by simply acknowledging that God longs for our family to know Him in intimate and personal ways. I long for my son’s to know that God loves them, forgives them, empowers them, and has a task in this life for them to participate in. I long for my son’s to have the spiritual vitality needed to make do in this world that is full of wonder, but also filled with pain.

I want my son’s to work hard, earn a livable wage, pay their bills on time, be gracious towards others, and participate in God’s redemptive purposes in this world. I want them to have loving relationships with friends a future partner, and to do common good in this world.

Whatever form that takes, I’m here to support. And I want to be with them as they learn to discern God’s active presence and invitations for their lives.

I hope to have religious, moral, and daily life conversations with my son’s as they get older and explore the different contours of life. I hope they can be honest with me or some other guide in their lives that will help them be self-aware, honest, compassionate, and courageous.

And I want them to enjoy the hell out of life: to travel, meet new people, have dreams and chase them.

I think Christina and I model our faith in public ways for our boys to see. We have a commitment to a local church community. We talk about our faith off and on during dinner time. But I think we can spend more time praying for them and listening to what God might want to say and do in their current lives.

Author Kara Powell says that we will get what we are. She cites another researcher saying,

“The most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents. “

— Christian Smith and Melissa Lundquist Denton (Smith and Denton, Soul Searching)

Powell, Kara. The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family (p. 28).

At this stage of faith, I trust that God fills us with the Spirit to parent our kids. But, as Dallas Willard says, “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort”. I can take some time to be intentional about praying for my son’s and listen to how the Spirit might be active in drawing near to them. This is my longing this year.

Empathy in Parenting

This was a great podcast by Mark Labberton, Kara Powell, and Steve Argue (all from Fuller Seminary). Their research has shown the different landscape that our kids are growing up in: economic challenges, social media, technology, vocational pressures. One reminder I needed to hear was how difficult it is to parent. It takes much more effort than I’m willing to put in sometimes.

Click here for the podcast.