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January 6, 2015, 2:15 PM


I've done a lot of reflecting over the quality of my life, relationships, and the decisions I have made that have in turn made me.  Scary and exciting at the same time.  Socrates once said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."  He was right.  The difference between a goal and a dream is a timeline.  As we begin 2015, I want to challenge you to live Backwards Forwards.

Pray, envision, and map out your goals with the end in mind and then work backwards to the action steps. 

  • What kind of relationships do you want to have?
  • What do you want to accomplish professionally?
  • What about financial goals? Health goals? Your relationship with God?
  • How about your kids--what will you do to mentor and prepare them to be fully devoted followers of Christ?

When is NOW. Why delay another day what you can do today?

Fear cripples; Faith fuels.   

Live life on purpose. Live with passion. Live empowered by His Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-17).

No excuses in 2015.  With God all things are possible. Do you believe that?

Let's have the best year yet.  A year where we allow God to lead ourselves and our families into all the wonderful things He has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:11).

Shaping hearts & Minds,

Dr. Chris

November 4, 2014, 2:09 PM

Soccer-Parent Syndrome

by Barbara Rainey

O LORD, You have searched me and known me. . . . [You] are intimately acquainted with all my ways. PSALM 139:1-3

Over the years, Dennis and I have attended hundreds of events involving our children. Baseball games. Volleyball matches. Cheerleading events. Gymnastics competitions. Evangelistic outreaches. Music recitals. Sometimes they all seemed like a blur! But there is one trap we worked hard to avoid: the Soccer-Parent Syndrome—the belief that attending your children's activities automatically means you're involved in their lives.

In reality, involvement means much more. It means crawling inside the head and heart of each of your kids. Finding out what he or she is thinking and feeling. Diving into the often turbulent waves caused by uncertain emotions.

This can be scary and uncomfortable at times. That's why so many parents run from real heart-and-soul involvement with their children and withdraw to much safer territory.

The sobering truth is that you can be in the same house or the same gym with your children but be clueless about what's really going on in their lives.

Yet connecting can be something as simple as walking into each child's bedroom, sitting down and asking a few questions. It can be a quick outing for a milkshake or a hamburger. It can be stepping out on the porch together on a Sunday afternoon, just to check his or her plans for the week or ask if he or she needs to talk, to let your child know you're there to listen.

When you pursue this kind of heart-to-heart relationship with your children, you're actually following God's example. Wouldn't it be wonderful (someday) if your kids could say of you, "My parents have ‘searched me and known me.' They know not just ‘when I sit down and when I rise up,' but they also ‘understand my thought' and are ‘intimately acquainted' with who I am and what I'm like"? That's the definition of an involved parent. Not just watching how well they turn a somersault.


Ask yourselves this question: "Are we just going and doing, or are we living and listening?"


Pray for ways not just to get there, but also to be there for your kids.  

Visit the FamilyLife® Website

October 21, 2014, 9:39 AM

Eight Lessons About Leading Kids From Derek Jeterís Dad

October 14, 2014 —Dr. Tim Elmore

The sports world was consumed this summer with Derek Jeter’s farewell to the New York Yankees (and baseball fans everywhere). He got applause from every ballpark because Jeter played the game with class. He ended his career at Yankee stadium with a walk-off single that won the game. He worked hard, kept a great attitude, was a great teammate, and was very competitive—but never once, in 2,903 games of major league baseball, did he get ejected from a game. Yep, he is different.

photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc

photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc

When asked how and where he learned to play the game—he refers to his father. From his own lips, here are eight lessons we learn about leading kids from Derek Jeter’s dad:

1.  Never let anyone outwork you.

Derek said he watched his dad work relentlessly as a substance abuse counselor. He never claimed to have the biggest talent, but he taught his kids to “work hard and never let anyone outwork you.” That way, it’s not about giftedness but work ethic.

2.  Inspire your followers by doing what you want done.

Derek’s dad modeled the way in everything from optimism to passion to fun around the house. Derek said his proclamation that he’d play shortstop for the Yankees came from his dad who played college baseball: “I wanted to be like him.”

3.  Don’t project on kids, but push them when it’s time.

His dad never once pushed him into baseball, but once he showed a passion for it, Jeter’s parents helped fuel it. Many an evening, Jeter and his sister Sharlee could be seen fielding grounders or taking swings in the yard with dad.

4.  Be tough, but fair.

Like most teens, Derek had clashes with his dad, but he said later, “While he was tough, he was always fair.” Dad would explain the reasons why he’d set up the rules and boundaries in the house. It provided emotional security for the kids.

5.  Agreements are better than rules.

Every August, Jeter was presented with a contract drawn up by his Dad on a legal pad, permitting him to play sports only if he complied with a series of expectations that included posting high grades, participating in extracurricular activities and avoiding drugs or alcohol. Derek never once violated that contract.

6.  Explain your leadership values.

Derek remembers, “There were a lot of times when you clash with your parents, but they were pretty good at explaining things. When you’re a kid, you don’t always agree, but my parents were always good at explaining, ‘Why.’” This helps kids follow.

7.  Err on the side of optimism.

Derek says the greatest lesson he learned from dad was to stay positive. Even in his 32-game slump in 2004, Derek put his uniform on, expecting to get a hit. He’d talk to his dad every day about the potential of that new day. He knew slumps would pass.

8.  Constantly express appreciation.

Derek tells us, “My parents have always been supportive—daily.” So on Father’s Day, he expects that he’ll tell his Dad, ‘Thanks,’ but that is not anything unusual—Jeter thinks that is an appreciative sentiment that should be relayed more than once every 365 days.

When you lead kids well, the relationship evolves from supervisor to consultant to friend. Their relationship has matured over the years, but Derek Jeter says that he knows with any pressing issue, Dad is still one of the two people he’d turn to first. “We’re more friends than anything,” Jeter said. “I think as I’ve gotten older, you still have the father-son relationship, but we’ve become closer friends. He’s still my Dad, but more so, a friend. I’d definitely go to him first with anything.”

How could a parent or coach want anything more?


P.S. Derek Jeter just wrote a children’s book that has 10 values and life lessons. Here’s the link:


October 6, 2014, 3:56 PM

The Birth & Death of Entitlement

October 1, 2014 — Dr. Tim Elmore

It’s not a new topic. Almost everyone I speak to agrees that American students in today’s middle class are just a tad bit spoiled. They act “entitled,” say school principals, faculty, deans and athletic coaches. In fact, the term “entitled” is the number one word employers use to describe recent graduates on the job.

Step back and reflect for a moment. If kids act entitled, it’s usually because we adults have allowed them to do so. Someone didn’t curb that attitude early on, and now as adolescents, they are in full throttle. But where did it begin?

According to research, a sense of entitlement in people tends to happen when two realities collide:

  1. When a person doesn’t comprehend the big picture.
  2. When a person has not experienced life’s normal hardships.

    According to a report by Don Tennant, “A lot of what contributes to a sense of entitlement appears to take root very early in life—early childhood experiences in school and with parents … the mentality of ‘if something bad happens, it must not be my fault; if something good happens, it must be because of me.’”

    Further, “Comprehensive studies of large swaths of different generations … [have] found higher levels of narcissism in the millennial generation.” One of the reasons we see such a high rate of entitlement among youth today is the rising levels of narcissism among them. Adults (parents, teachers, coaches, youth workers, administrators) have contributed to this mammoth sense of entitlement because we feared being the “bad cop,” providing both a big picture perspective on how most of the world lives and exposing them to real life experiences that reveal how life really works. So, let me share an old legend with you about a father who decided to fix this problem for his son. The story goes like this:

    There once lived a rich businessman who had a lazy and fun-loving son. The businessman wanted his son to be hard-working and responsible, to realize the value of labor. One day, he summoned his son and said, “Today, I want you to go out and earn something. If you fail, you won’t have your meals tonight.”

    The boy was callous and not used to any kind of work. This demand by his father scared him and he went crying straight to his mother. Her heart melted at the sight of tears in her son’s eyes. She grew restless. In a bid to help him, she gave him a gold coin. In the evening, when the father asked his son what he’d earned, the son promptly presented him the gold coin. The father then asked him to throw it into a well. The son did as he was told.

    The father was a man of wisdom and experience and guessed that the source of the gold coin was the boy’s mother. The next day, he sent his wife to her parent’s town, then asked his son to go again and earn something with the threat of being denied the night meals if he failed. This time he went crying to his sister, who sympathized with him and gave him a rupee coin out of her own savings. When his father asked him what he had earned, the boy tossed the rupee coin at him. The father again asked him to throw it in a well. The son did it quite readily.


    photo credit: Dinesh Cyanam via photopin cc


    Again, the father’s wisdom told him that his son had not earned the rupee coin, so he then sent his daughter to her in-laws’ house.He then asked his son a third time to go out and earn something, in order to have something for dinner that night.

    This time, with no one to help him out, the son was forced to go to the market in search of work. One of the shopkeepers there told him that he would pay him two rupees if he carried his trunk to his house. The rich man’s son could not refuse and was drenched in sweat by the time he finished the job. His feet were trembling and his neck was aching. There were rashes on his back. Returning home, he produced the two-rupee note to his father. This time, when the boy was asked to throw it into the well, the horrified son almost screamed. He couldn’t imagine throwing his hard-earned money away. Amid the sobbing, the boy stammered, “Father! My entire body is aching. My back has rashes, and you are asking me to throw the money into the well? I don’t think I can do it.”

    At this, the father smiled. He told him that one feels this pain only when the fruits of hard labor are wasted. On the earlier two occasions, money was given to him. Therefore, he felt no pain throwing the coins into the well. The son had now realized the value of hard work. He vowed never to be lazy and to safely keep the father’s wealth. The father handed over the keys of his shop to the son.

    Perhaps we need to introduce a relevant experience to our students that illustrates both big-picture perspective and real-world reality to them. I’m just sayin’…


September 29, 2014, 2:37 PM

The Two Greatest Motivators for Students

September 25, 2014 — Dr. Tim Elmore

I recently had lunch with my friend Lara Juras, who serves as Vice President of Human Resources for the Atlanta Braves. In our conversation, Lara reminded me of a great truth she keeps in mind as she practices the art of motivating people.

She’s learned to keep in mind the two greatest motivators for behavior whenever she has to inspire improvement among team members:

  1. Pain (Very unpleasant circumstances)
  2. Gain (Very pleasant circumstances)

    Pause and reflect for a moment. Pain is a motivator for people to change because adrenaline is released in moments of tension or fear. In fact, many people never change until they feel a little pain. Something in their life must be uncomfortable or unacceptable before they’ll consider doing something new or unfamiliar. In our bodies, adrenaline is released in such contexts and operates as fuel for engagement. Without pain, they may not experience the “juice” they need to improve.

    On the other hand, “gain” is also a great motivator. When people see some benefit up ahead or know something pleasant is coming their way, endorphins are released that operate as fuel for positive change. Endorphins cause us to feel good and move people to act. Very often, people are quite satisfied to “veg” or continue in a routine until some tangible reward or advantage is introduced, until there’s something they’re willing to exchange some energy to obtain.

    Putting This to Work with Students

    Now think about the young people you lead. How do we utilize this reality?


    In a world that’s saturated with stimulants—video, music, chemicals, images, social media, meds and digital content—it’s increasingly difficult to motivate or inspire students. I talk to coaches, teachers, parents and youth workers who tell me: “It’s just hard to ‘wow’ these kids today.” Of course it is—they get exposed to more and more stimulants at younger ages than ever before. At the risk of over-speaking, millions of young adults are content to “veg” and “watch” instead of stretch and grow. And it isn’t necessarily their fault. We’ve over-stimulated them. That’s why the smartest leaders introduce a little “pain” or “gain” into the lives of their students. It’s the only way to fuel change and growth—the growth they desperately need.

    We must remember this is more than “carrots and sticks.” It isn’t just about offering rewards and punishments. Instead, it’s about finding out what your students value or avoid most and creating environments where pain or gain play a role in their achieving what they want… or avoiding what they abhor.

    I will never forget talking to Julie years ago. She was a college student who was “stuck.” She couldn’t get motivated to go to class; she was confused about what to major in; and she told me she might just drop out of school and become a barista at Starbucks. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being a barista if that’s your goal, but I felt there was more going on beneath the surface for Julie. So I decided to question her to find out what her greatest hopes and fears were, those things that represented gain and pain in her life. I quickly discovered her passion for children in Mexico. She’d visited once on spring break and was moved by kids in an orphanage whose plight was hopeless and whose future prospects were dim. As we talked, their pain became Julie’s pain, and the idea of serving children in Mexico became the very idea that released endorphins in Julie. This conversation changed the trajectory of her life, and it was all about pain and gain. The juices were flowing, enabling Julie to finish her degree in Spanish and International Studies (a double major) and pursue something she loves. She now has a fulfilling career, serving in Mexico.

    Let me ask you a question: What pain must you introduce to your students to help them become motivated? What’s the gain you need to help your students discover in their life? The juices won’t flow until we do something different.

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