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30 Years Changes Your Perspective

Class of 1985

Today I am preparing to attend my reunion for the Washington High School class of 1985. Thirty years would have appeared to be an eternity in June of 1985 as we walked across the stage at Kugler Field. It is odd that as time passes we gather to celebrate something we were so anxious to pass so quickly. Sitting in those metal folding chairs that June evening were hopes, dreams and plans of more than 200 students. In the 30 years since, some of those hopes, dreams and plans were lived out while others changed over time. As most graduating seniors are, I was so consumed with my own ideas of life that I did not appreciate the value of the hopes and dreams of those sitting around me.

As these 30 years have passed, thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of people’s lives have been touched and changed for the better because of those boys and girls that surrounded me in 1985. Some became teachers and have dedicated their lives to offering students the best education they could give them. Some devoted their lives to serving and protecting our country. Businesses have been started. Loving family units have been created. The world has been entertained through the performing arts. Faith has been shared. Communities have been improved. Lives have been changed.

The advent of social media has given us all an opportunity to stay a little more connected than our previous reunions allowed. That should lend itself to making the evening that much more enjoyable. Tonight we will celebrate the fact that we survived 30 years of adult life. There will be stories told. Lots of memories will be shared. Laughter will fill the room. Some may have changed little. Others will have changed a lot. We will be reminded about the brevity of life as we remember those who we have lost in the last 10 years. For me personally, I want to celebrate the fact that the world is a better place because of the people in that room.

Today brings two things to mind. The first is hope. Barbara and I have four children and three grandchildren. They too can make a difference in this world. There is no dream out of reach or goal that is too lofty. Hope that this year’s graduating class can make the world a better place as classes before them have. Hope that the world is not doomed but greatness arises from all walks of life.

The second is determination. Based on statistics, I have more years behind me than I have ahead of me. That being the case, I want there to be more life ahead of me than I have behind me. I want to finish well. I want my finishing years to make more of difference than ever. That is my wish for all of my classmates. That our next 30 years be life-giving and we make more of a difference than ever; that what has been will diminish in light of what will be.

Class of 1985, tonight I celebrate with you. Tonight I celebrate you. I am thankful that each of you had a part in my life. The world is a better place because you are in it!

Give Thanks….Always?

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As a pastor, one of the common questions that I get is “How do I know God’s will?”. There are many ways I think we can know, discern and understand what His will for our life is, but the first place where we have to begin is in the Bible. We can start by understanding the things that are clearly identified as God’s will for all of us. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Thessalonica and in his closing remarks he said, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT). There are several things we can learn from this verse that are relevant to all of us, especially on during Thanksgiving.

Be Thankful
This is not a suggestion, but more of an emphatic command. In the words Paul writes prior to and immediately following this verse, he is addressing how to live our lives. He tells us to encourage others and not harm them. He says we should be joyful and prayerful, not critical and impatient. As a part of that full life that he is describing, a large part of that is to be thankful. Webster’s dictionary defines thankful as “conscious of benefit received”. The origin of the word suggests that we would express gratitude for blessings or benefits. Henry Van Dyke said, “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Being thankful is something that must be intentional.

In All Circumstances
There is a clear distinction that must be made between being thankful “for” circumstances and being thankful “in” circumstances. There are some situations where we find ourselves, sometimes not of our doing, that we would prefer to not be a part. However, in every circumstance we can find something for which to be thankful. Learning to be thankful in your circumstances requires you to stop seeing things only from your perspective. You may need to look at the bigger picture or see the greater benefit for others involved and how it changes their lives. Numerous times throughout the Bible we are reminded that things work for good and what was meant for evil God used for good. Our thankfulness takes a turn when we begin to see things from God’s point of view instead of our own.

God’s Will
I am no different than you when it comes to wanting to know exactly what God desires of me in every situation. Sometimes that is difficult, especially in a decision making process. Paul takes all of the guesswork out of this one. He says this is God’s will. His desire for your life is for you to be thankful in every circumstance. Being thankful is the reflection of Himself that He wants people to see in our lives. Intentional focus on gratitude.

Thankfulness is achieved much easier when we understand that ultimately God is in control. Our circumstances may not change, but our attitude about them will change our understanding of each situation and help us to reflect Christ better. God’s will is for us to be thankful. Today is a good day to practice. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

My Personal Refugee Battle

 

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I usually find there are two valid sides to most issues (with limited exceptions). When I see people, especially followers of Christ, being so abrasive and arrogant about their point of view, it disturbs me. It bothers me when I fall into that trap. The last two weeks I have preached from John 1:14-17 where it describes Jesus being full of grace and truth. Full of both. Two things which at times the church seems to be only on one side or the other. When the two are combined, it brings a certain messiness to the situation. Most things we consider black and white suddenly become some other shade.

The people of Syria are facing a real dilemma. A civil war is ravaging their country and terrorists are using large portions of their country as a base. Millions of Syrians are fleeing their homeland looking for a place of safety for their families. At the same time, there are terrorists blending in with innocent refugees looking for cover to carry out their evil plans. This creates a real problem for the rest of the world. It is not as clear as anyone would like to make it. Grace and truth, compassion and expectation, create a tension that we struggle to manage. In this refugee discussion, most of the comments I read are all or nothing. I have not arrived there yet. I am wrestling with this. Somehow I hope this expression of writing will assist in clearing my own understanding.

My compassion pushes me to make room for everyone. Grace, or unfailing love, is inclusive not exclusive. I am reminded to love the poor and care for them. The New Testament teaches that true religion involves the care of orphans and widows. I have been challenged recently as I have grown to make an attempt to understand people and their situations better. I did not get to choose where I was born. I was favored to be born in the United States. Frankly, that was a measure of grace in itself. My heart breaks for these people who are only looking for a safe place to raise their family. I passed through the airport in Moscow recently and there was a family from Syria living in the airport that had a problem with their visa and could not clear customs. They had spent 50 days of living in a terminal the day I came through. My heart broke for them, but I was limited in what I could do. We are a nation of immigrants. My grace wants to help those that are in need. 

The tension I have is that I also have some expectation. With my compassion comes certain caution. There are those that do not want to assist anyone because of someone. I refuse to take that position. I am a preacher, but I am not Jim Jones. I am an American, but I am not Timothy McVeigh or Jeffrey Dahmer. I am a North Carolinian, but I am not Velma Barfield. I cannot join the camp that puts all Syrians in the same basket. However, I can’t eliminate certain caution or expectation for those coming to our country. I do have an expectation that we are making reasonable attempts to keep our country and it’s people safe. I am not looking for perfection, but I do believe their should be reasonable vetting.

Grace and truth get messy. My experience tells me that it is impossible to offer grace without experiencing pain. To remove the chance of being hurt would mean to eliminate grace. I know some of you will read this and you have already settled this issue; many of you are all or nothing. I just hope to encourage some people who are not finding it as cut and dry as many want it to be. I don’t think this is a tension that can be eliminated, but it is one I have to manage.

I generally am not a person that lives in fear. I would rather suffer for making a difference than to accomplish little while remaining safe. Just to put things in perspective, I am traveling to Turkey in December to train leaders and pastors, some of which are probably fleeing Syria. There are millions of Syrian refugees flooding Turkey. I am taking my son, son-in-law and Family Pastor with me. We are going to make a difference. I am not afraid of going to them. I am working through my tension of them coming to me.

This Sunday I will finish the sermon series where we are covering the first 18 verses of John. John says that God is revealed to us through Jesus Christ. One of the supporting passages that we will take a look at is found in 2 Corinthians 5:16-19. It has many applications, but here are two: 1) we have to stop evaluating others from a human point of view, and 2) he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. My goal is to learn to live both of these out. This seems like a good place to start. 

Looking Back and Looking Forward

I recently read a quote by Ray Edwards about his reflections on a year as it winds down. He said he makes two lists: 1) What am I thankful for this past year?, and 2) What do I want to be thankful for next year at this time? Those two questions pressed me to think about certain things in my life. It seemed easy enough to make a list of things for which I am thankful. However, there had to be some intention if I was going to create a list of things I wanted to be thankful for next year at this time. There is an often quoted passage from the Bible in a book the Apostle Paul wrote called Philippians that says No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” There is some danger because looking back can often lead to going back. A desire for the “good old days”. When our focus is constantly on the past, we often miss what bright future that lies ahead. I have heard it said that the greatest hindrance to our success tomorrow, is our success today. We cannot relive yesterday, whether it was good or bad. We can only use it for perspective. Paul is not discounting what has happened previously in his life because on several occasions he recites some of that. He does, however,  have a clear understanding of where he is headed and what his final destination should look like. I want to give offer some assistance in your two lists and see if we can gain value from where we have been and begin to be intentional about where we are going.

What am I thankful for?

One of the best attitudes we can cultivate is the attitude of gratitude; learning to be gracious in all of our circumstances. Paul wrote to his protege Timothy “to be thankful in all circumstances”. We do not necessarily have to be thankful for every circumstance, but we can find things to be thankful for in every circumstance. He is reminding us that our attitude about every situation and circumstance is critical. Cultivating the right outlook is imperative. Our quality of life improves as our gratitude improves. 

When you begin making a list of things you are thankful for over the last year, try not to be in a hurry. What you will often find is that one thing you are thankful for will lead to another. Often, I am surprised at the list and how it will change my ideas, thoughts and emotions as I read over the good things. Reflection also gives me a perspective I may not have had in the middle of certain situations. It is during that reflection that I have time to see something good come from what appeared to be a difficult situation. It is difficult to prepare for good things ahead until we have the right attitude about the things that have already passed.

What do I want to be thankful for?

This is not a daydreaming exercise, but an opportunity to set the bar for the coming year and be intentional about what is going to take place. When I think about twelve months from now, what do I want to be thankful for? This allows us to think about the things that will need to take place over the following year that will allow other things to happen for which we want to be thankful. For example, if you want to be thankful for a better marriage, what steps do you need to take for your marriage to improve? If you want to be debt free, what actions must happen for that to be on your “thankful” list in twelve months? You may want to be thankful for being a better leader or parent, have more income, attending church regularly, starting a new business or losing 10 pounds. Whatever you want to be thankful for, prepare and plan so those things take place. 

In the verse we quoted from Philippians, Paul uses the expression “I focus on this one thing”. He does not overload himself with trying to accomplish everything. He is committed however to one thing. Every problem you have or every goal you desire cannot be accomplished in one year. But at least one of them can. Take the time to think about what you want to be thankful for and then be intentional on making that happen.

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, it is a good time for some reflection and planning. Looking back to improve our attitude and looking forward to change our direction. Be thankful for what has happened. Plan for the things for which you want to be thankful. Intentional gratitude will change your life.

3 Reasons You Have A Spouse

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In the story of creation we find in the Bible each time God created something He said that it was good. The skies, the water, the animals, the stars, they were all good. Then He created man and this was God’s response in Genesis 2:18 NLT Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” For the very first time, God said it was not good. Something needed to be added. It was not sufficient by itself. So God created a relationship that we call marriage. There are some very specific things here that should help us gain some understanding of the importance of marriage and the value it brings.

 

It is not good to be alone

God created us to be in relationship. When He looked at man alone, He recognized that it was not good. There is a difference between seeking the solitude of being alone and the reality of loneliness when we have no other options. Adam did not have any other options. For human relationships, there was no other person. God immediately recognized that for Adam to be complete, he could not be alone. Our spouses are there so we do not have to be alone. They are the most important earthly relationship we have. We must learn to be there for one another. One of our jobs as a spouse is to be a companion so our partner is not alone. 

 

Created by God

After His recognition that man did not need to be alone, His response is to make a solution. He made it. Not only did He make it, but He made it just right. There should be comfort, peace and real expectation to know that God has created someone for us. And not just someone, but someone who is just right for us. That is why it is critical for us to pray and seek wisdom when looking for a spouse. God has created someone specifically for you that is just right. Why take a chance in the lottery when we have been given the ability to seek the Creator and know who He created for us? Your choice in marriage does not have to be a gamble. God has one specific person for you.

 

Helper

Not only has God created someone who is just right for us, but they are also our helper to come along beside of us and to help us become everything we were designed to become. There are certain things that we need to know and learn that can only be learned in the context of relationship, and some more specific things that can only be learned in the context of the marriage relationship. The wise King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT  Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Success comes from the help of others. There is success that you will only achieve with the help of the person that God designed for you in the covenant of marriage. Be thankful for the success you achieve with the help your spouse brings.

The marriage relationship serves many purposes. Though these are not the only purposes of marriage, they are three specific reasons that are made clear in the very first human relationship at creation. Do not discount the value that they bring to your life. Your spouse brings value to you that no one else can. As we understand better the reasons why God places us together in the relationship of marriage, we can understand better how that relationship is to work and how we can support one another. Marriage was intended to be for mutual fulfillment and that is achieved as we become aware of why we have this relationship.

Why I Hugged A Homeless Man

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In my lifetime, I have known a reasonable amount of privilege, though mostly unacknowledged. I was born in the United States which brings with it a certain amount of privileges that the majority of the world does not know. I was not born into a wealthy family, but I was born into a family where both parents had employment and both were committed Christians. My dad had a bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University and had a job working for a large corporation. He became a minister soon after I was born, so I was raised around people of generally good moral character who had significant influence on me. My parents worked hard to support our family and others. By nature of my conservative religious upbringing, I found myself growing up to be politically conservative as well. I was afforded numerous learning experiences and usually found myself in above average circles academically.

As I became a teenager, certain things became almost intuitive. I knew to get a job. I knew to work hard. I knew to provide for myself and my family. There were times I failed to do some of those things, but I knew what I was supposed to do. I was instinctively generous because I had seen my parents model that all of my life. Though they were probably poor by American standards, it never stopped them from doing their best to assist people. So as I got older, I knew that I should help others. Sacrificing financially seemed second nature at times. However, I had a disconnect between the giving and the understanding of why people needed help.

I have been guilty of many of the assumptions that others make. Things such as “They just need to get a job” or “Why don’t they apply themselves” or “ They could change if they wanted to”. I don’t recall it slowing my willingness to help those in need, but I did begin to recognize I was disconnected from those people. As I grew older, I began to see things through a completely different lens. I began to understand that if just one of the things I listed in the first paragraph had been different, my entire life could have been drastically different.

I started to ask myself questions and look at the plight of others and realize how their circumstances were a collection of many other things, some of them for generations, and I started to become aware that someone changing their life is not always as simple as “if they wanted to”. I started trying to place myself in other people’s shoes and comprehend how education or family background was affecting someone’s plight. Was their location a factor? Though helping financially was necessary, what other things needed to take place to change someone’s life? What could I do to relate better to people in need?

This has been a journey that has taken years. Years for me to begin to understand and appreciate the plight of others. It is still an ongoing journey. Recently I experienced a new part of that journey. I will admit it stretched me, but it is changing me.

One of the things I have struggled to understand is homelessness in America. We are a wealthy country with lots of opportunity, Why are people homeless? Recently, I was visiting New York City with a few members of my family. There are plenty of homeless people there begging for help from passersby. That seems understandable due to the enormous number of people from whom you can ask for help. While there, I asked Barbara, “What would make someone want to continue to be homeless? Could they not change towns and find employment where there may be jobs and lower starting costs? What has to happen to a person for them to accept this as a lifestyle?” As with most of the questions that we ask ourselves, it seemed logical to me. After asking the question, I felt prompted in my spirit that while I was in New York City, I needed to hug a homeless person. I am a person of faith and I believe at times we are prompted by the Holy Spirit to do certain things that may benefit others, but usually it is also a part of our own personal growth.

If you know me, you know I am not a hugger. I know plenty of people who are, but in general I prefer to shake hands. The hugging alone has been a journey for me as I have come to understand that it offers affirmation and comfort to people who need that. Add to that the fact that I prefer to stay clean. Forgive me if I admit that it crossed my mind. Not only would hugging someone challenge me, but hugging someone who may not have bathed in months or whose clothes had not been washed in months would challenge me even more. The thought of that pressed every sensibility that I had. As we journeyed each day around New York City, each time we passed a homeless person I was reminded of what I needed to do and wondered exactly how that was going to happen. Was I just going to walk up and ask for a hug? Would they think I was trying to harm them? Would they say no? Would we have a conversation? What do I say? What was I supposed to learn?

On Saturday night before we were supposed to leave the city the following day to fly to Moscow, we were walking down 8th Avenue near my favorite burger place in New York City, Shake Shack. It was crazy busy as most Saturday evenings are. It was a mild fall evening and people were enjoying being outside. As we strolled along to our hotel, we passed by a homeless man begging on the sidewalk. He was squatting, holding his head with one hand while holding a small sign requesting money with the other. The sign was so small and illegible that you would need to stop to read it. There was a small Dixie cup in front of him to collect money, but only a few coins were inside. He never looked up as we passed by, but as we did, I felt that prompting again. We continued walking to the end of the block and I could go no further. I asked everyone if they could wait a few minutes and I turned around to go back to the homeless man.

When I got to him I introduced myself and extended my hand as I would anyone else. He said a name, but I do not recall what he said. He did not offer his real name. I didn’t know that at the time, but he would later tell me his real name. I got down on the sidewalk beside this man while people hurried by and I asked him to tell me his story. At first he said he didn’t have much of a story. I really think he thought I was the police. But I asked him to tell me how he ended up homeless. He recognized that I really wanted to know and he began to tell me about himself. He had been a tattoo artist for 25 years. He was from New Jersey. He had tried to open his own tattoo shop and had put everything he owned into it. Something happened with other partners or investors and he lost everything. He had been homeless, on the streets begging for about six months. He was looking for work hoping to change his plight, but for now he had to resort to sleeping on the streets, eating food that people gave him and begging for spare change. He talked about the emotional toll that it was taking on him which he described as worse than the physical toll. I told him my name again and I told him that I was a pastor and from that day forward I would pray specifically for him. I was there for a reason and I knew I couldn’t leave just yet. I asked him if I could give him a hug. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and surprise on his face. We looked so different but we weren’t that different at all. There on 8th Avenue in New York City, a wall came down for me. I needed the hug as much as he did. As people passed by, many of my own prejudices and lack of understanding came crashing down as I had taken a few moments to understand someone else’s circumstance.

“Jesse,” he said, “ My name is Jesse”. That is not what he told me when I first introduced myself, but suddenly once he knew that I wanted better for him and was sincere about praying for him, he trusted me with his name. He had not even trusted me with his name until he knew I cared about him.

 So every day now I am praying for Jesse. Before I left I told Jesse that I understood that he needed more than prayer at that moment, so I reached in my wallet and gave him money. He was grateful. So was I. The money was easy for me. The hug required me to grow.

The Holy Spirit prompted me so I could grow and Jesse could be comforted. I understood more about a single person because I engaged them instead of passing judgment. What a different world we would live in if we would engage one another instead of living in our assumptions and judgments when we have never sat down beside them in their situation to find out why they were there. I hugged a homeless man because I needed to learn something. People want to be understood. People want to be loved. They just want to be heard. And for a brief moment on 8th Avenue in New York City I was the Jesus that Jesse needed to see. 

4 Things I Learned In The Second Chair

 

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I recently celebrated five years as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and shared some reflective thoughts here www.stephenmizell.com. As wonderful as my time as Lead Pastor has been, the time that I spent as an associate pastor or staff member was extremely beneficial to me in the current role where I serve. My previous role evolved from worship pastor to executive pastor prior to becoming lead pastor. In those roles where I was not the senior leader, there were some things I learned that benefit me immensely today. I do not claim this to be an extensive list, but these are things that apply to every single staff member and will certainly be of great benefit if you become the senior leader.

 

You don’t get all of the credit you deserve

And every staff member in every organization said, “Amen”. There is usually no less work required in a supporting staff role, however the recognition for the work that you do is often missing.

Occasionally it is intentional because the senior leader is insecure, however most of the time it is not intentional. The person at the top usually gets too much credit, but they often get too much blame. The ultimate responsibility of an organization falls to the senior leader and his fate is often tied to the success or failure of the organization. Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk that said “The buck stops here”. It was his acknowledgement that he was ultimately responsible. However for success to be achieved, numerous other people and circumstances have to be present. The person at the top usually gets too much credit or too much blame. In support roles, that can be exaggerated as well. Those roles can suffer from very little credit and way too much blame. Unfortunately, there will not only be times that you do not get the credit that you deserve, but you get blame for things over which you had no control. Good work eventually gets recognized and rewarded, so keep doing your best and the rewards will eventually follow.

 

You are at someone else’s mercy

In most organizations, you serve at the pleasure of, or mercy of, the senior leader. This means they often have control over not just your fate but your daily schedule. This can be unnerving at times to know that much of your family’s financial well-being resides in the opinions of another person. If you are a high performer, they usually do not want you to leave, even if they feel threatened or frustrated by your influence. However, there are times when egos or emotions override common sense and you suffer because of that. Real leaders are servants first, so serving someone else should not bring fear, but fulfillment.

 

Integrity is critical

Though you would think this is obvious, sadly it is not. People often use their positions as a means to an end. The end being more important than the integrity of the position. Moving up the ladder at the expense of your character is too high a price to pay. As John Maxwell says, “Talent may open a door for you but character will keep it open.” There will be times when your motives and integrity are challenged at every level of leadership. I found that over time, integrity always wins. In our current era with social media and information overload, it is even more important to act with integrity in the roles where we serve. Integrity is critical, even if it costs you your job.

 

Do what is best for the organization because it may be yours

Occassionaly you may be faced with a difficult or complicated challenge. In those instances, it may be tempting to choose the path of least resistance because you believe that the burden of the decision will fall to the senior leader or if the work required to make a particular change or start a specific initiative looks overwhelming you may choose what is easiest. When you are in a support staff position, you should always try to do what is best for the organization. First, it is an integrity issue. Second, you may eventually end up being the senior leader and the wise choices you make now will benefit you later. I experienced this on several fronts where difficult choices that were made while I served as an associate were of great benefit to me and the church when I became the senior leader. The right choices now will make your job easier in the long run, especially if the organization becomes yours to lead.

 

I am grateful for the things that I learned serving on staff at Open Door. I believe I am a better Lead Pastor because of the choices I made before that was my title. There are lessons to learn on every step of the leadership ladder. Learn them well and they will benefit you long term.

7 Tips for Parenting Adult Children

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Parenting is one of the greatest challenges of life. It is extremely rewarding and at times extremely heartbreaking. It often seems like every weakness and failure that is exhibited in your own life shows up in the life of your children. This seems to be even more magnified when they are adults and are making their own choices. When our children are younger, we assume more control over their lives. As they get older, we have to rely less on control and more on influence. Being a parent of adult children brings a new set of challenges because now they are your contemporaries. Barbara and I have four adult children and we are working through the challenges of being the best parents we can be. Here are 7 things that have helped us and will hopefully assist you in being a better parent to adults.

Cheer

All adults want to be recognized for their successes and achievements. Our adult children want our approval and they want to be told that we are proud of them or hear our cheers for their accomplishments. This seems to come easier when they are younger and they are playing in a sporting event or dancing in a recital. As adults, we don’t often get to see similar accomplishments first hand, but when we become aware of them, we should offer our praise. Our words of affirmation and praise as a parent are like gold to our children especially when they are adults. Don’t withhold them.

Watch

There are lots of names in recent years for overprotective parents. Things like “helicopter parents” or “hyper-active parents”. It starts when they are born but doesn’t seem to fade even when they become adults. We go to great lengths to keep them from experiencing failure or pain. When we constantly intervene in their problems or struggles, especially when we solve their problems for them, we limit their capacity to learn and even weaken them from being able to survive difficult times when we are not around. As difficult as it may be, sometimes there are lessons that they will only be able to learn through failure. If you struggle with this, start with smaller things that may not be life altering. You will not always be there. They need to learn how to be aware, focused and determined for themselves. Don’t always bail them out.

Know

This can be difficult for someone like me because I like to talk and I have lots of opinions. The reality is my children have their own opinions. I should not try to speak about every issue or try to offer my opinion about every situation. I must be selective with the things that I address. Every issue is not life or death. I read that the famous boxer Muhammad Ali got into a bar fight early in his career. Someone grabbed him by his collar and drug him outside. When he gathered himself, he came up ready to fight only to realize that it was his manager. Ali asked his manager why he pulled him out of the fight. The manager replied, “You only have so many fights in you, and this is not one of them.” In parenting the same is true. We must choose our battles wisely. Safety and spiritual development should be high priority topics. Some other things are less necessary. Choose what is most important or where you can offer the most help, and speak to those. Be selective not invasive.

Give

Our children start wanting their own space earlier in life and the space grows wider into early adulthood. They are trying to learn who they are without the constant input or influence from a parent. As they become an adult, we must make sure that we are recognizing them as a contemporary as much as our child. This requires giving them space to be their own person. Space to make decisions while not offering our opinion without being asked. Other things like knocking prior to entering their home or room or asking their opinion and input on important matters provides them space. You desire your space as an adult; give them the same respect. Not only respect their space, but also respect their opinion and input on situations. Discounting their feelings or opinions solely because you are the parent can be both unwise and unhealthy. When we can see them as people and not just children, our perspective and conversation evolves.

Share

One of the greatest things that we have to offer our adult children is wisdom. We have tried many things and failed. We have made choices that we have had to live with that if given the opportunity to change, we would. We have a vast array of experience that can help guide our adult children away from some of the pain we have lived through. This will require us to be vulnerable and open about things that they may be unaware of, but can be invaluable to them in their growth. Why make them pay a price you have already paid. Don’t be afraid to tell them you failed. It may be the best encouragement you can give to them. I urge you to practice wisdom while sharing. Sharing something too early or too late can be disastrous. Make sure they can handle it, but then trust them to handle it so they have the information needed at the best time to be of the most use.

Recognize

One of the challenges for parents at high school graduation is suddenly their child becomes their contemporary. It creates this learning curve that is often challenging for parents. The child is usually pressing to be treated like an adult and the parent is learning to accept that reality. It requires new rules of engagement and behaviors. Their actions may not always portray the adult you think they should be, but it does not remove the fact they are and we must treat them as such.

Expect

With adulthood comes more responsibility. One of the battles of this transition is the desire to be accepted as an adult while managing the responsibilities of being an adult. We should respect them as adults, but it is fair and wise to have certain expectations of them as adults. This may include providing their own place to live or paying rent while living at home. It may include being responsible for their finances or how they carry themselves in public. As the old saying goes, “If you want to be treated like an adult, then act like one”.

Though raising adult children brings a new set of challenges, it is not the time to stop being a parent. It is time to learn to be the best parent you can be and understanding the role that you play in their lives. You are leaving a legacy.

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About Me

I currently serve as Lead Pastor at Open Door Church and I am a certified trainer & coach with the John Maxwell Team. I am also an Associate Trainer with EQUIP training leaders around the world. I currently own two businesses related to the foodservice equipment industry. I am a certified speaker, teacher and coach with the John Maxwell Team. I can offer you workshops, seminars, keynote speaking, and coaching, aiding your personal and professional growth through study and practical application of John’s proven leadership methods. Working together, I will move you and/or your team or organization in the desired direction to reach your goals.