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September 1, 2014, 11:00 AM

Social Media & Trojan Horse

Most of us adults tinker in technology and try to accommodate it where useful. We can be tentative and somewhat awkward when it comes to technology.  We are not digital natives like our children.  We didn’t grow up with an iPhone in our hand or internet connectivity in our bedroom.  Social media was Entertainment Tonight on TV.  As such, many of us are not fully aware of what lurks out there, what are children are exposed to, what they are consuming or what they are producing.

Recently, my eyes were opened when I saw what some students had been posting, liking, & consuming online.  Suffice it to say, it did not represent an understanding that God is in us, with us, and that the material does not reflect God’s goodness or best for our lives.  I met with each grade from 7th to 12th grade to address this subject and offer some Biblical guidance.  Many of the students were not making the connection between their online life and their spiritual life.  They were not seeing the enemy inside the Trojan horse looking for an inlet into their lives.

Please note this not just for junior high/high school.  Many elementary kids are online and do not necessarily even know fully what they are “liking” or being exposed to.  Many simply “like” as a courtesy completely unaware or out of peer pressure.

Below are some guidelines I recommend for parents & students:

  • Recognize every form of social media is a pipeline into your child’s heart and mind.  Encourage your children to use Philippians 4:8 as a grid to evaluate content:


“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Phil. 4:8, NLT)


  • Help them connect the dots.  Jesus tells us that all the good and bad we do flows out of our heart.  What we consume, “like,” post, and re-post says a lot about the state of our heart and our value system.  Everything we do should reflect our love for God and commitment to Him.  You cannot separate your online life from your everyday life.


  • Digital media ALWAYS leaves a foot print.  Online social media is never anonymous. Prospective employers, schools, scholarship committees all look at social media as an easy, inexpensive way to find useful background information on a person.  Nothing is ever private online.  Anything can be captured via “screen shot” or forwarded intentionally or unintentionally.  Never say anything, “like” anything, etc. that you would not want printed on the front page of the newspaper or announced on TV or read in front of your mother or father, or better, yet, the Lord.   


  • Know what social media your child is on.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat are just a few of the popular social media websites.  Snapchat is particularly interesting (And dangerous)  because it allows a person to post a comment then disappears after it is viewed virtually eliminating the trail of what has been posted.


  • Set guidelines for social media use.  Be very specific about when and where texting or social media posting is not allowed:


  1. never in class
  2. never at meals 
  3. never overnight 
  4. never while driving 
  5. never while walking 
  6. never to cheat 
  7. never for sexual messages 
  8. make sure to point out this includes reading texts as well as sending.


  • Establish clear consequences for misuse. Confiscate the phone/tablet for a period of time. Then limited use for a period after they get it back.


  • Monitor social media posts. Text messages, posts, Tweets can go viral. Even Snapchat can have a screen shot and sent viral.  Therefore, they are not private.  You are not invading privacy by reading them. Have your teen give you their phone every night at least one hour before bedtime. This is your time to monitor their messages and phone use. Return their phone to them the next morning.


  • Teach that sexting by teenagers is a crime. It is child pornography and is a prosecutable crime even if they are the subject. Therefore it will not be tolerated whether they are the sender or receiver.


  • Embrace the technology yourself. 63% of parents believe texting/social media improved their relationship with their teen. Quickly check in with your teen with a "How are you?" "Where are you?" or "Need anything?" text.


  • Set a good example. Follow your own rules. Don't text your child in class if you don't allow them to look at texts in class. 



Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris

August 25, 2014, 12:34 PM

Helping Students Overcome Struggles

Six Steps to Helping Students Overcome Struggles

Dr. Tim Elmore, (August 20, 2014)

 “The over-functioning parent.” It’s relatively new to our daily language but has been around for a long time. It’s a euphemism for the mom or dad who is overactive during their kid’s childhood… forgetting they’re raising a future adult. We adults have been guilty of over-functioning, even if we’re not parents.

You and I make up a generation of adults who want to provide a safe, happy life with positive self-esteem for today’s young people. The problem is, we think we can do this by removing struggles from their life. In reality, it’s just not true.

When we eliminate challenges and difficulties from their lives,
kids are conditioned to give up easily without trying.

What Happens When We Remove Their Struggles?

When we, as adults, intervene and ease the struggle from our kids’ lives, we actually create struggles for them later.

Research from the University of Mary Washington reveals that when parents intervene too much in their children’s lives, it handicaps them from “getting along with others.” Additionally, the study reports the children are prone to become depressed, feel less competent to manage life, and live less satisfied lives.

photo credit: miguelavg via photopin cc

How could this be? Consider what your child experiences during adolescence. They naturally enter a season where they desire more autonomy. It is normal for them to want to spread their wings, try out their skills and find where they belong. In fact, it would be strange if they didn’t experience this yearning. When we try to help them by removing any struggles, we emasculate them. We unwittingly deem them incompetent. After all, they need our help.

Truth be told, parents must assess their level of intervention and involvement in their child’s life as they age. Maturity doesn’t’ happen automatically — we must let them mature. We can both stunt it and foster it. Because a child’s need for autonomy increases with time, parents must adapt and adjust their level of control and involvement as kids strive to become independent young adults.

When our children were young, my wife and I found ourselves picking up their toys for them, putting their clothes away in the closet and even fetching a ball that rolled away when they were fully capable of retrieving the ball themselves. We weren’t noticing the patterns we were laying. As we became aware, we may have looked uncaring to onlookers at first. But we knew that we had to condition our kids to expect to get the ball for themselves, as well as put their clothes and toys away. In fact, preparing them to do this was a superior method for demonstrating our care and concern for them: We were building an expectation for and an ability in them to do it for themselves. They have since become more self-reliant adults because they are self-sufficient.

When we talked about this change, my wife confessed something I believe many parents fall prey to as they raise their kids. She told me that one reason she did so much for the kids was because it met an emotional need in her own life. This is normal — we all need to feel needed. But when we remove struggles in our kids’ lives, they begin to expect (and need) us to continue doing it. It’s addictive, but deep down, we like that addiction.

Psychologist Debbie Pincus writes, “If a parent’s emotional needs are met through their child, essentially they are tying her shoes for her every step of the way.”

What Must We Do to Change Our Ways?

1. Cultivate a relationship.
Every student panel and focus group we host asks for this. Kids wish their parents, coach or teacher would actually pursue some kind of relationship with them. Often, children/students are reticent to initiate this; they question if adults are too busy.

2. Earn the right to be heard.
I know you’re the leader, but this generation of kids has not been taught to respect the badge or the title. You may have authority, but you must earn your influence. Often, the best way to earn the right to be heard is to listen to them.

3. Communicate belief.
You can’t fake this. Those who win their students over authentically communicate they believe in them, and the same goes for parents. Every young man and woman needs a caring adult to look him or her in the eye and say: “I believe you have it in you; I am convinced you have what it takes to succeed.”

4. Help them see struggles as “Tollbooths,” not “Roadblocks.”
This is one of our Habitudes® for the Journey. Everyone faces tough times in life. To make progress, kids must see difficult situations as tollbooths, where they pay a price to move forward. If they don’t, that struggle will become a roadblock to their growth.

5. Remove the fear of failure.
When kids don’t try, it’s frequently because they’ve been conditioned to think that failure is unacceptable. Many have never failed or struggled; they have trophies in their rooms just for “playing.” We must relay to them that failure isn’t final or fatal.

6. Challenge them with a hard assignment.
I have come to believe that deep down, every kid wants to be involved in a project that’s very important or almost impossible. When we give a tough assignment — at home or at school — one that takes everything they’ve got, it communicates we actually take them seriously.

My friend David has a son named Nick. Years ago, when Nick was in middle school, he told his dad about a new iPod that had just come out. He wanted it badly and convinced his dad that they would sell out quickly. David asked his son if he had enough money to buy it. Nick looked down and mumbled that he didn’t. Then, looking up hopefully, he asked Dad if he’d buy it for him.

David was in a quandary. Like you, he loves his kids. At the same time, he knew that simply buying it for Nick wasn’t the best way to lead him in that moment. He didn’t want to foster “immediate gratification” in his oldest son. So, David responded in a very wise way. Here is what he said to Nick:

“Nick, I’m going to buy that new iPod so we won’t miss out if they sell out. However, because I am buying it, it is mine for now. I am going to allow you to make whatever payments you can each week or each month until you pay it off (at no interest). Once you pay for it, I will give it to you. I know you’ll be able to do this.”

Nick smiled and agreed.

David told me that a few months later, Nick made his final payment and got the iPod from his dad. He also told me now much Nick had learned gratitude, discipline and patience in the process. Hmmm. It was all the result of a thoughtful — not over-functioning — parent.

- See more at:


May 19, 2014, 3:01 PM

Sticky Faith

I’m looking at the calendar and I cannot believe that we have two weeks left!  I can only imagine what the parents of seniors are feeling right now.  “Are my kids ready for the next phase of their journey? Did I give them the spiritual foundation, the moral compass, the inner resolve to navigate life successfully? Are they grounded in their relationship with Christ and know what is truly important? Do they have the people skills to work well with others?”

These are great questions we all need to be asking ourselves all throughout our parenting life cycle.  Each day is an opportunity to invest, to impart, and to impress our faith and values onto our children.  Faith is not just taught, it is “caught.”  Moses tells all the moms and dads that their role is critical in creating an amazing home, culture, and country.  He tells them not to shirk their responsibility, but be intentional.

Deut. 6:4-9 (NIV) 4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Faith that sticks is real, relevant, and relational. We are not to ignore or side-step the questions of life, but seize every day opportunities to communicate truth in a loving way. 

OUR NUMBER 1 PARENTAL PRIORITY:  Create a family environment where God is SUPREME.  

Every day, every place, every opportunity is an altar to encounter God & serve Him (Rom. 12:1).  Whether we are at the store, shuttling kids to games, watching TV, putting them to bed or on our way to church, we are to:


  1. TEACH our kids what a fully-devoted life looks like
    • Not just what, but why


  1. TRAIN them to follow God whole-heartedly
    • Not just why, but how

Sticky faith is stickiest when we involve our kids in our faith journey. 

We must be intentional & consistent (Gal. 4:19, NLT).  

(Gal. 4:19, NLT) 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." 

Let’s enjoy our kids, savor every moment we have with them, and make this summer memorable.  As you map out your summer

  • Pray—for opportunities to lean into your kids and make a lasting, spiritual impression
  • Plan--be intentional about growing spiritually as a family.  Maybe a new routine (prayer at bed time, serving together as a family, devotions, etc)
  • Persist--the hardest thing is starting.  The second hardest thing is continuing. The third hardest thing is finishing.  Don’t give up—the reward is right around the corner. 

Shaping Hearts & Minds,

Dr. Chris

April 14, 2014, 12:51 PM

Easter Traditions?

Do you have any family traditions that you celebrate this week to help anchor the significance of the final events leading up to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection?  Perhaps you attend special services at church, watch certain Christian movies such as the Passion, or use an Easter egg to capture the truth about the death and resurrection with your small children.  If you do, you’re not alone.  Both the Bible and church history are full of feasts, memorials, and “holy days” to remind us of what really occurred over 2,000 years ago.  Traditions that are grounded in truth help us grasp what God was up to in Christ Jesus and what He was really doing on that cross.    

Have you ever stopped to think how mind-blowing and radical what we Christians believe is?

God became flesh and dwelt among; He invaded our world and set-up shop.  Jesus showed us by His life who God really is and how good He wants to be to us.  God is not against us; He is for us.  Through His death and resurrection Jesus conquered the power of sin that separates us from God and sabotages everything.  Sin, and its offspring death, has been rendered powerless to those who embrace Christ (Romans 6:1-10).  We have been freed to freely worship God and experience Him.

2 Cor. 5:15 (NLT)  “15He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”

This weekend we get to celebrate with believers all over the world that we can live for Someone bigger than ourselves; we live for the One, who died and was raised for us.  Sunday is what makes Good Friday good. 

Shaping Hearts & Minds,

Dr. Chris

February 17, 2014, 2:05 PM

Ouch! You're Hurting Me--7 Parenting No-No's

All the wisdom and love in the world doesn’t necessarily protect us from parenting in ways that hold our children back from thriving, gaining independence and becoming the leaders they have the potential to be. Sometimes in our efforts to provide and protect, we are actually hindering our kids from becoming the leaders God created them to be.  In the words of Dr. Tim Elmore, “Care enough to train them [our kids], not merely treat them to a good life. Coach them, more than coddle them.” I encourage you to read the short article, by clicking on the link:   


7 Damaging Parenting Behaviors that Keep Kids from Growing Into Leaders

  1. We don’t let our children experience risk.

  2. We rescue too quickly.

  3. We rave too easily.

  4. We let guilt get in the way of leading well.

  5. We don’t share our past mistakes.

  6. We mistake intelligence, giftedness and influence for maturity.

  7. We don’t practice what we preach.

How can parents move away from these negative behaviors (without having to hire a family therapist to help)?

Here’s a start:

  1. Talk over the issues you wish you would’ve known about adulthood.

  2. Allow them to attempt things that stretch them and even let them fail.

  3. Discuss future consequences if they fail to master certain disciplines.

  4. Aid them in matching their strengths to real-world problems.

  5. Furnish projects that require patience, so they learn to delay gratification.

  6. Teach them that life is about choices and trade-offs; they can’t do everything.

  7. Initiate (or simulate) adult tasks like paying bills or making business deals.

  8. Introduce them to potential mentors from your network.

  9. Help them envision a fulfilling future, and then discuss the steps to get there.

  10. Celebrate progress they make toward autonomy and responsibility.

Again, I encourage you to read the brief article.  From my 20 years of experience in Post-Secondary and K-12 education, I can tell you Dr. Elmore’s words are right on.    

Shaping hearts & Minds,

Dr. Chris

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