Raising Kids or Statesmen or Doctors or What?

The term “kids” gained much popularity in the 1960’s and 70’s. Many Christians resisted this cultural shift from calling youngsters “children” to calling them “kids”. When one church announced it was starting a “Kids Club” there were protests that the children were not “Kids”! Some people were keen to point out that animals had ‘kids’ while humans had ‘children’. The very term was seen as dehumanizing.

Now ‘kids’ is ubiquitous and seems perfectly innocuous inside or outside the church. So, are we raising “kids” or “children”? Are you raising a statesman, a doctor or what? The question is not a trivial one, because you will most likely succeed in leading your children toward what you want them to be.

I spoke at a Christian Business Men’s meeting in KL, Malaysia a few years ago, on the subject of “Manhood”. A highly educated Indian Doctor spoke to me afterward and lamented that he had actively raised his children with the wrong vision in mind. He had wanted each of them to be successful, well education and professional. He sent them overseas for their studies and was thrilled with their personal and business success. Several of his children were leaders in their field. One was a Harley Street Specialist in London. Despite that enormous achievement he now lamented that none of his children maintained their Christian faith. He was busy raising well educated citizens, but failed to raise “godly” people.

I ask you again, What are you raising? If you are more concerned about academics or business success you may achieve your objective but lament it in the end. If you are determined to raise “free-thinkers”, self-determining people or those who know what they want and have the confidence and go and get it, you may succeed in your objective, but lament it later.

We need godly Statesmen. We need more Christian business leaders. We need more professionals who will perform their functions with compassion and the fear of God. But if you are more concerned about the financial and personal issues, over the spiritual ones, you may simply raise statesmen, businessmen and professionals who go along with the worldly flow.

The more clearly you perceive your objective as a parent, the more delighted you will be with the outcome in the end. So don’t be too hasty to assume that what you are doing and where you are going is fine as it is. It is appropriate that you take time to think through your parenting objectives.

To help you give some deeper thought to the issues involved in good parenting we have set up a Parenting Evaluation questionnaire as part of the Family Horizons website.

There are three broad levels of thought about Parenting which will influence the way you proceed with your parental role. There are the Natural Horizons, which are the worldly values and natural thoughts that many people follow. There are also the Spiritual Horizons, which are the Biblical and godly values which God has revealed to us. Then there are the Faith Horizons, which are the possibilities available to those who will engage faith into the process of their parenting.

Where are the Men?

It’s tough being a MAN in our feminized culture. That’s for sure. But what I find more a threat to manhood is not the rise of women, but the DECLINE OF MEN! It seems that men are running for cover, handing the world over to others who want to take it. I wonder if our problem is not what women are doing but that men are abandoning manhood. My own experience was that of “abdicating” from my manhood. It wasn’t until I realized what I was doing that I could even begin my own journey into godly manhood.

I have recently completed, MANHOOD HORIZONS – Calling Men To Change History, and it is currently in the editing process. That book brings together 20 years of my own thoughts and experiences in the journey to Manhood. Using the “Horizons” formula, exploring the Natural Horizons, then Spiritual Horizons and Faith Horizons, I aim to particularly distil the essential qualities of Manhood, as a divine calling from which no man can escape.

Using the analogy of the Theatre, I point out that God is the one who has cast each of us into our roles. We are each asked to embrace our part, not by our own choosing but as assigned to us by God, Himself. God is the one who created the very earth on which we play out our lives.

Shakespeare used the analogy of a stage to describe man’s existence. His melancholy character, Jaques, from ‘As You Like It’, presents a soliloquy on the course of a man’s life. The speech begins by describing life as a performance on a stage.

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts”

While those who are melancholy might lament man’s futile parade across the boards, those with wisdom look beyond the footlights to discover the very one who created the whole theatre. Mankind’s challenge is not to look busy and appear important, while on the stage, but to find out what the stage is there for and what part has been assigned them to play.

Men, as in the males of the human species, have been assigned a decidedly different role to play than that given to women. Men cannot trade in their part or exchange it with someone else. The stage was not built by men, nor set up for men’s purposes. Our world was created by God and everything in it was created for “His pleasure”.

Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for You have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are and were created.”

Where are the men? What costume are they wearing now? Which of the props are they hiding behind? Do they have stage-fright? Why have they abandoned their God-given roles? Do they not realise the wonder and significance of living for God’s pleasure? Do they not realise the power of fulfilling their destiny as “Men”?

Manhood is such an important issue that I have long taught on the subject and am pleased to have recently completed MANHOOD HORIZONS – Calling Men to Change History.

Young Man Have a Go!

The brash confidence of youth emerges in each successive generation, creating young entrepreneurs who push the boundaries and set new standards for the rest of us. Not all young people are go-getters, and many shrink in the face of challenges, but the combined energies of today’s youth forms a vital resource for us all.

This is not a new phenomenon. Famous names such as Alexander the Great of Greece and Sir Cecil Rhodes of southern Africa are among the many men and women of history who achieved phenomenal success and influence at a young age.

In view of youth’s capacity to excel, it is vitally important that parents and the older generation keep a positive attitude toward the confident young people they meet. Not all ideas will succeed. Not all players will achieve a record score. But the cumulative impact of all the young people who will “Have a Go!” provides much of the energy of each culture and community. Consider this current day example of a young man keen to make his mark.

When Chris was only fifteen he had already done many things his peers could not imagine. He had toured Australia as an audio and lighting engineer for a travelling band of thespians. He edited TV programs and worked alongside men who had no idea how young he really was.

On one occasion he learned that a company needed their office ceiling repaired. He promptly contacted the manager and asked to quote on the work. He inspected the site and arranged for several sub-contractors to call and quote. All this, while he was just fifteen years old. When the contractors called to inspect the site he rode to the location on his pushbike, hid the bike in the bushes then walked into the office as if he had driven there. And it worked! He won the contract and made good money. The client was happy. The contractors were happy. And so too was the fifteen-year-old who ran the project. Chris is a prime candidate for today’s bold new world of opportunity for the young.

Today young people have opportunities like never before to make their mark and make their fortune as well. Many of the cyber-innovations which have swamped the globe have come from young minds and youthful innovators. Under the inspiration of these exemplars, more young Americans plan each year to be self-employed at some point during their working life. Each month more resources spring up to support young entrepreneurs and to capitalise on their energy and vision. Over 2,000 colleges and universities now offer courses in entrepreneurship in the USA. That’s up 500% in the past decade.

A recent Entrepreneurial Boot Camp, which catered for the growing number of home-school youth looking for creative options for their future, faced an array of top-quality business plans for start-ups by teens. The great American dream to “Own Your Own Business” is as alive as ever.

Are young people who see opportunity natural entrepreneurs? Is seeing an opportunity really that rare? We all know that it’s not. Everyone sees opportunities from time to time. When someone buys a derelict house and renovates it, or builds a block of units, are always onlookers who say, “I thought about doing that”. How many men think about marrying the pretty girl in their class? Only one does marry her. At least, only one at a time. So what happened to all the others who saw the opportunity?

Natural entrepreneurs not only SEE opportunities, but are also bold enough to “Have a Go!” That’s the quality which we often find in youth and which we should do everything to encourage in them.

Young Chris continued to “Have a Go!” Before he was old enough to get a driver’s licence he negotiated an investment venture. He explored his interest in acting, moving from the sound desk to centre stage. He tried his hand at wooden furniture, plants and various other enterprises as the whim took him. The ventures varied from modest successes to terrible failures, but Chris saw progress and “learning by doing” as worth the effort.

Unafraid of hard work, he had many happy employers who paid him well for his diligence and attitude. His most recent appointment was in management in a logistics company where they planned to groom him for advancement.

We have already noted that seeing an opportunity doesn’t make an entrepreneur. Many people correctly see an opportunity. It is that willingness to “Have a Go!” that separates the entrepreneurs from the on-lookers. But even the process of stepping out has its degrees. Doing something in your spare time is one level of daring. Risking all for the project is quite another step to take.

In Chris’s case the urge to “Have a Go!” kept him leery of settling into the corporate culture, where personal horizons are set by someone else’s program. Like many other youth, Chris often held discussions with his friends about what might be possible. All manner of ideas were investigated along the way, based on interests, opportunities and wild ideas.

Then a project came up that was just too good to resist. Chris decided to build a huge global network of people who would make a statement about the human family and join their voice as the wonderfully diverse conglomeration that makes up humanity.

As plans crystallised, Chris conceived to unite a million people into a single project. Each person would play their own small part, telling their own story, and yet linked for a massive unifying outcome. Red and yellow, black and white, everyone is invited to join in. Young and old, male and female, there are no bounds.

“Mosaic of Mankind” is what young Chris calls his latest adventure. It’s a world record-breaking attempt, to create the jigsaw puzzle with the most pieces in the world, one million pieces. Yet each piece will feature a unique photo of one of the one million people, couples and groups who have joined forces to make this enormous global statement.

The website, MosaicofMankind.com, invites everyone to “Take your place in the Mosaic of Mankind”. It describes the project as: A World Record Breaking Jigsaw Puzzle; A Work of Art; and A Global Statement. The project involves “Millions of people declaring unity in diversity and friendship across all borders of race, religion, age and status”.

This is a far cry from riding his bike to a local business. But now, at age 25, Chris has enjoyed cars, motorbikes, travel, achievement and success. He is now ready to move beyond his past boundaries to try something no-one else has ever done! And to make it happen Chris has invested all the money he has. He engaged a savvy web designer to create the complex functionality needed in such a huge project. He quit his job and walked away from the corporate world. It’s all or nothing, and Chris is back where he most enjoys himself, pushing the boundaries and doing something new.

Chris is excited that he’s a boy from “down-under” who is doing something for people the world over. Australians, “Aussies” as they prefer to be called, have a long history of innovation and getting things done. So young Chris is delighted to fit that mould and be one of many young Aussies impacting the world today.

It’s “have a go!” time for Chris and his Mosaic of Mankind. And it’s “Have a Go!” time for a whole generation of young men and women the world over. Youth is the best time to take bold steps and break through. Youth have energy, time and the back-stop of their family to enable them to do what their parents may not be free to do. If you are young, then “Have a Go!” and chase your big dreams while you can. If you are a parent or a leader of young people, tell them about Chris and his Mosaic project. It just may be what they need to propel them toward their wonderful potential.

Does Your Family Have Destiny?

The testimony of Jonathan Edward’s descendents reveals the wonder of God’s blessing on a family. Back in 1874 Richard L. Dugdale studied the descendents of two men, “Max Juke” of New York and Jonathan Edwards of Massachusetts. Juke was a reprobate, while Edwards was a man of devout faith. The contrast in their descendents is staggering. The Juke lineage produced an abundance of alcoholics, prostitutes, convicts and murderers. The Edwards lineage produced an abundance of ministers, authors, college professors and leaders.

Both of these families display a “destiny”. So the short answer to the question, “Does Your Family Have Destiny?” is a resounding “YES!” For better or worse your family carries a destiny that impacts you and your children. That’s why the book, FAMILY HORIZONS – Creating Families of Destiny, explores the territory of inherited blessings and curses. It would be vain for a member of the Juke family to pretend they were descended from Jonathan Edwards. The grace and blessing on the Edwards family was not inherent in the name, but in the family lineage itself.

Edwards and Juke had vastly different values. Max Juke was described as jolly and companionable, but also as a hard drinker and averse to steady toil. Dugdale noted that he had some children which were “almost certainly illegitimate”. Jonathan Edwards, on the other hand, was a god-fearing man who believed in self-discipline. The outcome of their family histories is telling.

The Juke family line produced many descendents who engaged in immoral activity, such as prostitution, theft and murder. Dugdale noted that of 540 blood descendents of the family more than half of the females were “harlots”, meaning they were sexually promiscuous. The “successful” members of the family were farmers and tradesmen.

The Edwards family, on the other hand, produced a lineage of men and women who excelled both morally and in human endeavour. The list includes college presidents and professors, physicians, army and navy officers, authors, clergy, missionaries and theological professors, mayors, congressmen and even a vice president of the United States

Can we put this distinction down to DNA? Is the difference made from biological limitations? The answer has to be a resounding “No!” The inclination to come short of God’s standards is not a biological issue. If it was, then God would have no right to judge us for fulfilling our biological design. It is a moral issue, and so it is anchored in human responses from the human heart.

Can we put the distinction down to environment? Is the difference made from social pressures? The answer again has to be a resounding “No!” If society alone was responsible for man’s lesser actions then again man would be exempt from God’s judgement. The influence of those around us can be profound and we need to be alert to its power. Solomon warns against keeping company with an angry person, because we can learn to be angry too (Proverbs 22:24,25). However, many people have resisted the evil influences around them and pressed in for better things, or maintained their character, such as Lot did in Sodom. This does not seem to be the case in the Juke lineage.

The Bible indicates that there is a SPIRITUAL DIMENSION to family destiny. Despite physical limitations and social influences divine blessing or curse will prevail. The book of Psalms assures us that the offspring of the righteous will be blessed.

Psalm 112:1,2 “Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man that fears the LORD, that delights greatly in his commandments. His seed will be mighty on earth: the generation of the upright will be blessed.”

Psalm 25:12,13 “What man is he that fears the LORD? Him will he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul will dwell at ease; and his seed will inherit the earth.”

The descendants of evil people will face negative spiritual consequences.

Psalm 37:28 “For the LORD loves judgment, and forsakes not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked will be cut off.”

Psalm 109:10 “Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.”

A problem we face in churches today is that the word “curse” has become almost a bogey in itself. I have been told by my Chinese friends that the Chinese avoid saying the word “curse” for fear that it will attract negative results. God is not superstitious about curses and His children need not be either. God plainly declares that there are curses on people who do the wrong thing and blessings on those who do right.

Jeremiah 17:5 “Thus says the LORD; Cursed is the man that trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm, and whose heart departs from the LORD. “

Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.”

Deuteronomy 11:26 “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse

The examples given us in the Edwards and Juke family lines suggest that one family was living under curses and the other under God’s blessing. The “Destiny” of each family was directly impacted by that spiritual dimension. There are significant Biblical examples, notably Eli’s family line and the lineage of Gehazi.

In the book, FAMILY HORIZONS, the examples of blessing and curse are explored in detail. But more than that, the keys to turning curses into blessings are investigated. There is no reason to run away from our curses, but every good reason to understand them and deal with them, so we pass to our children a much better “Destiny”.

Relationship & Structure in Marriage

How To Understand Your Marriage Model and What You Are Building

When people build a marriage they work from a model or concept that they are looking to follow. People have expectations, desires and even dreams of what marriage will be for them. In the Western world our ideas of marriage are largely driven by “romance” and sentiment.

Having studied marriage around the world, in African tribes, European families, South American homes, Pacific Islands, Asian communities and America, England and Australia as well, I have noted that certain popular models prevail.

While romance is the Western ideal, people have come up with various ideas about how a marriage should work in practice. There are several models that people consider appropriate. People look for a spouse who has a similar model or who will fit in with their own expectations. If they have not clarified this ahead of time then there could be quite some tension if the husband and wife work from different models.

What is your marriage all about? Can you see yourself in any of these common concepts or practical realities?

Assigned Duties

A common model is that the couple will have various assigned duties in the marriage. The wife, for example, may be the home-maker while the husband is the main income earner. The wife may take care of the home while the husband looks after the yard and externals. The wife may attend to the children’s school activities, while the husband attends to their sporting interests.

The model gives each spouse their assigned roles. If a spouse does not do their part properly the other can prompt them about it. One will not take on the role of the other unless there is some prior agreement or a necessity arises.

Mutual Obligation

In the same vein as the Assigned Duties model, the idea of Mutual Obligation is that both husband and wife expect to get certain benefits, such as sexual intimacy, security and comfort, out of the marriage, but accept that they share obligations as well. They see that there should be a level of fairness in the distribution of responsibilities, based on interests and abilities.

The 50-50 Partnership

This takes the idea of Mutual Obligation to the point of negotiated equality. This model is often promoted by wives who are afraid of being lorded over by a man. They choose the 50:50 partnership model because it sounds quite equitable and fair, while allowing them room to resist any imposition made on them by a husband, especially if the husband does not measure up.

It’s a Man’s World

This model is based on the idea that the man is king and the woman is blessed to be his bride. The woman’s pay-off is that she gets to be wife to a man whom she considers desirable, because of this image or his ability to provide. While certain macho males will hold to this model it also works for those who are wealthy or who have some other attribute that makes them a good catch. The wife can have the benefits of the money, fame or social standing, but the price is that she must make the man happy.

The Idolised Woman

This model appeals to those men who feel a strong need for a woman in their life. They may seek sexual favours or look for a strong woman who will mother them. They consider it a privilege to be married to their wife and will do all in their power to make and keep her happy. The woman is happy to have such devotion, but usually finds her husband quite unsatisfactory when the height of his focus is only her.

Something Is Better Than Nothing

This kind of marriage works for those who don’t expect to get a particularly good deal out of life and who accept the opportunities that come along on the basis that there may not be anything else. A couple may marry and make the best of the situation, while neither is particularly impressed with the other or with the marriage.

Let’s See If It Works

Many people enter into marriage with no real confidence that the relationship will work. They give it a shot, but have no real understanding of how to build a solid marriage. If it works they are happy, but if it falls apart, they feel that there was nothing they could do about it.

The Obligatory Duty

Some people feel as if marriage is something they must do and endure because it is expected of them. They find a spouse, or have an arranged marriage, and do their part as best they know how. They suffer the indignities, put up with the problems and are glad for the happy moments. Marriage is not something that excites them, but is something that is expected of them and they yield to that social pressure.

The Contract

In view of so many marriages disintegrating and people being left with pain over asset distribution and sorting out the mess, the idea of a contract is increasingly popular. With second marriages, people are more likely to define who owns what and what will happen if they divorce. Pre-nuptial agreements are occurring more commonly, to prepare for the eventuality of divorce. Whether anything is ever written or signed, the concept of the contract is common. The idea is that each spouse is only bound to the marriage if the other person upholds their end of the bargain.

In my books, MARRIAGE HORIZONS and MENDING MARRIAGES, I investigate the bigger picture of marriage. But for now, consider these questions. Is you marriage what it is supposed to be? Have you built something worthy of your life and your spouse? What are you doing about making your marriage better?

The most effective marriages are those where the couple work ON their marriage, not just IN the marriage. The more determined you are to be the best “you” you can be and to have the best marriage you can have, the more likely you are to move forward and enjoy a better life.

However, let me give you a word of caution. Don’t assume that your ideas are right just because they suit you. And don’t assume you are right just because you can convince your spouse to go along with you. The smartest people look for exemplars, mentors and benchmarks that lead them beyond their personal best, to things that are better still.

I congratulate you for taking the time to read this. You obviously want to have your marriage succeed. My prayer is that your marriage is successful and blessed, and a role model for the next generation.

To discover God’s wisdom for making marriages work well be sure to read the many other articles about husbands, wives, marriage and related themes by clicking the link: MARRIAGE TOPICS