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September 21, 2015, 10:00 AM

Growing Champions - Effective Discipleship is Life-Oriented

Parenting is one of the most challenging, humbling, rewarding endeavors you or I could ever under-take.  Raising godly kids who love the Lord and are serving Him takes a lot of work, grace and strength from the Lord.  This week we'll be looking at how we can capture and create teachable moments to nurture our kid's faith.


Nugget:  Effective discipleship is life-oriented.              

If we want our children to follow God, we must make God a part of our everyday experiences. It's more natural and fits the way we really learn.  It helps our kids see the "big picture" as they see how God relates to every aspect of life, not just those that are church-related.

As Israel was in its infancy stage as a nation, God told Moses the most effective way to enjoy God's favor and blessing was to teach and train the children in the nation how to love God. As you read the passage below, listen to all the action verbs parents are instructed to do with their children: 

4 Attention, Israel! God, our God! God the one and only! 5 Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got! 6-9 Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. (Deut. 6:4-9, MSG)

I try to walk through every open door I find into my kids' hearts and seize the "teachable moments."  As a teenager, I remember the "bubble boy" that filled the news.  The young lad's immune system was so weak he had to live encapsulated or die. Unfortunately, many parents do the same thing with their children.  Afraid of the evil lurking outside, the danger is to focus more on protection than preparation. 

Our goal should be to prepare our children to think and act Christianly so they will be equipped to engage with culture and society.  As our kids mature, the emphasis on preparation and internalization of truth and one's relationship with God must be developed. Otherwise, they will be dependent upon us and will not learn how to "own" their faith and how to stand strong in the Lord when they are out of our sight and care.

Practically speaking:

         Discuss movies, shows, music, pop culture, current issues and ask what message/values are being communicated.  How would Christ respond?  What is the loving, merciful, right thing to do?  How can we make a bad situation better and be a part of the solution?

         Don't ignore or sidestep the real questions of life. Tough questions shouldn't be avoided. (evolution, sex, marriage)  In fact, they offer some of the best opportunities to teach a biblical worldview. You may not have all the answers and that's OK.  Tell them you'll learn together and then research or talk to someone and find the answer.

When we skirt the tough questions, we send the message to our kids that we do not have the truth, know the truth, or the answers to those real-life questions lie outside the Bible in some other belief system.  Message Sent:  Our faith is not relevant.  IF YOU DON'T ANSWER THE QUESTIONS SOMEONE ELSE WILL. 

Seize the opportunities afforded you to disciple your kids.  Your grandchildren will thank you one day! J

Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris

September 18, 2015, 4:49 PM

Growing Champions - Be Intentional & Consistent


#1--Be Intentional & Consistent

"Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives."  (Gal. 4:19, NLT)


Spiritually growth & maturity is a process... a life-long process. Paul likens it to giving birth.  There are joys, excitement when they baby kicks, but there also nights when you can't sleep, when the demands & responsibilities become inconvenient & uncomfortable. When we think about our families we must remember that creating a God-honoring family environment requires an intentional, consistent, sustained effort on our part.   We're not tinkering we're transforming & life transformation takes time.  

Practically, speaking:

·         Pray

§  Ask God for guidance regarding the topics you want to lead your family through, the timing of when to address these areas, & the resources you might want to use.

§  Pray for receptive hearts and minds, an ability to seize "teachable moments," and God's wisdom.  Remember, He wants you to disciple your kids and He WILL help you.

·         Plan

§  We want to growth to be a matter of choice, not something we leave to chance.  Planning is simply scheduling or creating opportunities to grow.  This may be as simple as praying with your kids at night, a weekly devotional time, or serving together as a family at church or in the community.

§  It can be a formal or informal time.  Remember, one size does not fit all.  What works for one family might not be best for your situation.  Keep in mind today's schedules and do what works best for your family.  If you aim for nothing you will hit it every time.

·         Persist

§  It takes time to establish new habits (21 days to be precise).  Once you have made a decision to start, be prepared for setbacks and challenges along the way.  This is just life.  Don't quit.  Work it around it. 

God promises us in Psalm 1:2-3 (NLT):

"But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do."

God is growing something good in our homes...champions

Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris

September 18, 2015, 4:46 PM

Four Actions to Ensure Your Child Gets a Good Education

I don't know about you, but I often check my mileage on my vehicles to see how well I'm doing on fuel economy.  Low average mileage alerts me to see if anything else is going on or something I might be able to fix or adjust to better my car's performance.  Just as we check "under the hood," we should also check on a regular basis what's going on in the hearts and minds of ours students.

We cannot take for granted the type, quality, or measure of academic and spiritual formation occurring in our school, more importantly, in our students.  We must work together, set high expectations, and hold ourselves accountable so that the purposes and plans God has for our children will be realized. 



1.    COMMUNICATE THE BIG PICTURE--we are to do all things, including school, for the glory of God.  We are to approach our studies as an act of worship to bless God, our teachers, and the world around us.  We don't want to just be consumers in this world, but contributors.  We want to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  The world doesn't need any more fluff or nice cliché's.  The world is looking for real, authentic, meaningful expressions, of Christianity that addresses human need with the amazing love of God.

2.    ENCOURAGE OWNERSHIP--many students today give up far too easily.  Most things that are valuable and worthwhile in life, however, come with discipline, tenacity, and perseverance.  Challenge your child to take initiative and responsibility for their learning, to ask questions, to go above and beyond, to give their best effort.  When we learn to take ownership of our education and cooperate with God, we're placing ourselves in a position to see God's influence grow in our lives.


"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col. 3:17)


3.    CELEBRATE EFFORT, NOT JUST RESULTS--God has gifted us each in "many diverse ways" (1 Pet. 4:10), with different skill sets, aptitudes, and abilities.  It is unfair to expect everyone to obtain the same results (i.e. each child receive the same grades).  I will never be able to dunk a basketball or play as well as Michael Jordan.  It is totally fair to expect your child to give school their best effort.  In the Parable of the Talents, the master did not hold his servants accountable to all achieve the same results (as this would not be fair since each started with different amounts--gifts and abilities).  Instead, he held them accountable to how they used the gifts they had received.  In essence, they weren't competing against others, but against themselves to be the best that they could be whatever that might be.

4.    INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT--If we want our kids to love God with all their heart, mind and strength, to approach all of life as an act of worship, to make the most of their opportunities then we must demonstrate this by our actions.  What is important to you will be important to your kids.  What you live by you impart.  What you permit, you promote.

                   Ask questions about school. 

  • What are you learning? 
  • Who are your friends?
  • How are you making a difference, being a blessing?

    ·         Inspect their work.

  • How are their grades?
  • Any missing assignments?  Behavioral comments?
  • How about attendance & tardies? --are they demonstrating responsibility?



Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris

September 8, 2015, 12:00 AM

The Link Between Family History and Resilience in Students

Yesterday, I posted a blog about the connection between students who know history well and their ability to display resilience. It might seem like a strange correlation, but a growing body of research now connects the two. When I know my history, I feel part of something larger and can be inspired to play my role. I’m encouraged by those who lived in tougher times and can learn from their mistakes. In a day like today—when resilience seems to be waning and stress is high—this is huge.

Today, I’d like to dig deeper on where this idea begins.

Interestingly enough, it doesn’t stem purely from knowing modern history, or even American history. It actually begins with a healthy family history. I first read about this idea when research was done on it at Emory University. New York Times writer Bruce Feiler tells the story of Dr. Marshall Duke, a prominent psychologist at Emory University in Atlanta (where I live). During the 90s, Dr. Duke was tasked with researching the nature of “myth and ritual in American families.” From his work, Dr. Duke discovered that one of the most important things a family can do is to develop a strong family narrative.

big family

“There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family,” he says. “But we were more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces.” So Dr. Duke set out to help families build and talk about their history. It proved to be quite a breakthrough.

During this same period of time, Dr. Duke’s wife, Sara — a psychologist who specializes in children with learning disabilities — made a similar discovery about her students.

“The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,” she said. Wow. What a coincidence.

Digging deeper into the research, Feiler’s article reveals further insights about this issue. “Dr. Duke said children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong ‘intergenerational self.’ They know they belong to something bigger than themselves. Leaders in other fields have found similar results. Many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about.”

Feiler goes on to cite the work of Jim Collins (author of Good to Great), noting that “successful human enterprises of any kind, from companies to countries, go out of their way to capture their core identity.” In Jim Collins’ terms, they “preserve the core, while stimulating progress.”

Additionally, Collins also argues that the same truth applies to families, recommending that families “create a mission statement similar to the ones companies … use to identify their core values.”

Six Steps We Can Take

If this research is indeed true, then what should we do? How can we begin to build a sense of history into our families, our classes, and our teams? Let me begin to answer these questions below with a few basic strategies:

1. Tell the tales of the past.

Take time at meals or holidays to share funny or engaging family stories. At our house, we enjoy reminiscing about past trips, experiences and mishaps.

2. Start customs and traditions.

Create unique practices that are specific to your family, things you can do on holidays, vacations, etc. We have several “Elmore customs” like popcorn night, boat-time, and service trips.

3. Create a list of values and how you can practice them.

Our family met and came up with a set of values we’d all embrace. We chose to practice service, trust, good attitudes, hospitality, faith and risk-taking.

4. Begin using language that is exclusive to your family.

Note what funny or interesting terms are used and refer back to them. We have hilarious phrases, catchwords and rhymes that are for our ears only.

5. Refer to past history when current events align.

When facing a new situation, share how it reminds you of former events. My kids know the details of stories from the lives of their parents and grandparents.

6. Celebrate milestones together.

Healthy families are full of celebrations of achievement for new life stations. Birthdays, graduations, grades and performances are all remembered.

August 27, 2015, 2:14 PM

Four Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset in Students

August 25, 2015 — 

Some years ago, Dr. Carol Dweck wrote a book called Mindset. It was based on her research at Columbia University, where she and her team discovered what was preventing students from really achieving their potential. This has special application for today’s coaches, educators, employers, and parents.

In a single phrase, it was a “fixed mindset” versus a “growth mindset.”

We were privileged to hear from Carol Dweck at this year’s National Leadership Forum that we hosted in Atlanta. She reminded us that both students and adults can be guilty of falling into the trap of thinking with a fixed mindset.

What does that mean, you say?

A “fixed mindset” believes that you are what you are, and you really can’t grow or change much in life. This person makes statements like:


  • “Well, I’m just not good at math.”

  • “I just can’t learn to throw a slider.”

  • “I’ve never been good at setting picks.”

  • “I just don’t remember names well.”

    As adults, we find this mindset lingering, moving us to say:

  • “I can’t ever seem to balance the checkbook.”

  • “I just can’t lose weight.”

  • “I’m not very good at starting conversations with players.”

  • “I’m not a good leader.”

    Dr. Dweck says that kind of thinking can stunt our growth.

    Instead, she advocates a “growth mindset.” This thinking assumes that while some issues are tougher than others for each of us, we all can grow; and given enough effort, we can fair far better than we ever imagined by just thinking correctly about our lives. The growth mindset is not a lesson in futility. It doesn’t mean we live in denial. It simply refuses to believe in a fate that is thrust upon us that we have no choice about. If I am not good at math today, I am not destined to be poor at math forever. This is not my identity.

Four Ways to Build a Growth Mindset

After talking with Dr. Dweck on the Stanford University campus, I asked her about developing a growth mindset. How can both adults and students build one? Let me offer four simple steps below.

1. Believe that your brain works like a muscle.

Through the right training, our brains can be developed, just like a muscle in a fitness center. When we view our brains this way, we stop hiding behind excuses and get honest: If we’re not changing, it’s because we’re lazy. There are specific tasks or exercises you can perform to expand your brain in areas you felt were impossible to develop.

2. Use the word “yet.”

It’s okay to be honest about your challenges, but insert the word “yet” into your affirmations: I am not good at math… yet. I am not great at spelling…. yet. I am not a good dancer… yet. I am not good at shooting free throws… yet. Dr. Dweck believes this single word, while it isn’t magic, can transform the way we view our problems. Our current condition isn’t good, but we are in route towards progress. The word actually fosters the idea that we are growing and improving.

3. Affirm variables that are in our control.

Too many parents and teachers unwittingly affirm attributes that are out of our student’s control. We say things like, “You’re smart. You’re beautiful. You’re gifted.” There is nothing inherently wrong with these phrases, but Dweck’s research tells us it causes students to stop working hard. They say things like: “Well, if I’m so smart, I shouldn’t have to try so hard!” Instead, we must affirm variables that are in their control: “I love the strategy you used on that problem. I love your work ethic in practice. I love how honest you are with your friends. I love how hard you tried.” When we affirm effort, which is in their control, we tend to get more effort.

4. Surround yourself with “growth mindset” people.

People will grow into the conversations (and people) they have around them. You will become more and more like the people you have around you. Obviously, we can’t control every interaction we have with people, but we can choose our inner circle. Growing people determine to surround themselves with growth mindset people, who become contagious with others. You will reflect the books you read and the people you position next to you.

Both adults and kids can fall into the trap of fixed mindsets. We get stuck in old patterns and routines and become lazy when it comes to risk and growth. We make excuses as to why we can’t change or grow or make a difference. This prevents us from becoming who we’re capable of becoming. I read recently that women from one of the poorest slums of Uganda, earning less than a dollar a day, raised over $1,000 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Wow. Here’s to cultivating a growth mindset this year as you teach and lead your students.

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