Voting has always been an important part of our family’s heritage. My grandma, Nanie, was the trusted investigator for our entire extended family, which included five families, all with the same political leanings.
Months before the election, Nanie would thoroughly investigate to determine which candidates in all of the races, from local, to state, to federal, espoused our same belief system in the things that were important to us. My mom and dad showed my siblings and me the importance of voting, as neither ever missed an election and a chance to exercise their freedom and privilege of voting.
So how do we model the importance of voting to our children or grandchildren?
It’s never too early. From an early age, take your children with you when you vote, if possible. My girls, from the time they were in our double baby-jogger stroller, accompanied me to the polls.
Express your beliefs and values with your children. Discuss the criticality of voting for those who share your morals and beliefs. What’s most important to you? Where do you stand on life vs. abortion? The Second Amendment? Religious liberties? Taxes? The role of government? Immigration? What type of candidate do you want to see in the role of leadership? Why?
Encourage your children to ask questions. When they are adults, they will have their own opinions, but you can set the foundation for the values you hope they will emulate.
Don’t shy away from the hard questions. Your kids are growing up in an increasingly difficult and hostile world. Things we’ve never seen before have suddenly become commonplace. Don’t be afraid to open up the lines of communication, especially with tweens and teens.
Go over the sample ballot with them. Our local newspaper prints a sample ballot each election year. Our family sits at the dining room table and discusses the objectives of the candidates, based on public forums, debates, and the candidates’ websites. Our daughters weigh in on who they would vote for if given the chance.
Engage in a mock election. When I taught Constitutional Literacy at our local homeschool co-op a few years ago, we had a mock election on everything from the president down to the city council. We conducted it like a real election—discussing the candidates’ views on the hot-button issues. Each of my students voted in private. We then tallied the scores and watched in coming weeks to see how closely they resembled the real outcome.
Modeling truth and aligning your beliefs with the Word of God is critical. When your children are grown, they will make their own decisions. What they choose is not up to you, but giving them the tools to make informed choices is.
Nanie still thoroughly investigates all the candidates and gives us updates, although now her five children, 11 adult grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren (thirteen of whom are adults) all live spread throughout the United States. I’m thankful for the time she took then and now to ensure we knew the importance of voting.
They can be tough to make to make sometimes. At times we find ourselves procrastinating, dwelling, overthinking, and fussing to the point where the choice is never made.
Alternatively, what about split-second decisions? When words pop from our mouths at a fast rate of speed without any thought? When a split-second choice seemingly “happens” without any consideration toward the long-term effects?
Regardless of whether we’re making decisions that we’ve pondered or instantaneous choices, one fact remains.
Everything we say and do has a consequence. And not only do our decisions affect us, but they also affect others. And not only do they affect us and others in the short-term, but some choices affect us and others for years to come.
How can we be mindful of the choices we make?
*Stay in the Word. When we are setting our focus on Him, we will be more aware of seeking to glorify Him with our decisions, choices, and actions.
*Pray for guidance and discernment.
Surrender the decision to Him. I know it sounds cliche, but left to our own devices, our choices can often be filled with selfish motives. When we surrender that decision, no matter how big or how small to Him, we seek His will instead of going our own way.
Seek out a mentor.
Don’t make an immediate decision. Take a reasonable amount of time to evaluate.
Remember all choices have consequences. I’m reminded of a family we know who adopted a baby with severe fetal alcohol syndrome. This preventable condition is caused when the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy. Her choice to drink while carrying the baby not only affected her, but also affected this baby, now a teen, who has serious health issues. Her choice had a consequence, not only for her, but for the child and the family.
As we make decisions, may we remember the wise words of Proverbs 3:5-6 and trust in the Lord with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding. In all of our ways, let us acknowledge Him, and He will make our paths straight.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share this post. I appreciate you!
A friend recently told me a very inspiring story. When she first moved across the country for a new job, Lynn wasn’t sure what to expect in her new town. Her first Sunday there, she headed to a church, hoping to fellowship with like-minded believers and find a church home in the process.
No one welcomed her. No one said “hi.” No one even acknowledged her presence. And this was a small church.
Throughout the week, Lynn visited a local business. A woman who worked there invited Lynn to her church. “And I’ll be waiting by the front door for you so I can show you around,” she told Lynn.
Sure enough the woman was there. She showed Lynn around the church, introduced her to others, and encouraged her to come back the following week.
When Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer a short time later, the congregants of her new church drove her to her chemo appointments 95 miles each way, brought her meals, mowed her yard, and prayed with and for her. All with only knowing her a short amount of time.
She told me with tears in her eyes that these precious brothers and sisters in Christ had become her family.
Another friend, Sarah, in another town recently went through a nasty and unwanted divorce. Betrayed, broken, and hurt by the man she still loved, she stumbled into the church she had attended with her husband for the past year, sobbing and asking if someone would please pray with her. The secretary looked perplexed and called for one of the elders in the building. Rather than praying for her, he suggested she find a divorce support group, then ushered her out of the church.
Sarah has yet to find a new church home.
A blog post on how churches should welcome and support fellow believers?
On the contrary. Rather, my blog post is one about how important it is to live out our faith.
We, as Christians, have been given an important responsibility. To love Jesus and to love His church and to share the Gospel with nonbelievers.
Here are some suggestions on how we might better live out our faith.
Be the light. Sure, we hear this phrase often. But what does it mean to be the light? Consider the following verses:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:14-16
“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” ~ Ephesians 5:8
We are to stand out from the rest of the crowd. We are to show our light and be able to give an answer for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15). We aren’t to blend in and look like the world, but to look like one of His. Yes, there truly is a difference between us and someone who doesn’t proclaim Christ.
Definitely a tall order in a world that puts a high emphasis on things that are anti-Christian.
Be a doer, not just a talker. When we say we will pray for someone, we need to take that promise seriously and not just say it, but follow through and do so. Prayer is important and effective. People are hurting and struggling with a multitude of issues, from grief to serious illness; from job loss to homelessness; from addiction to the difficult road to recovery.
Reach out to those around you. Our world moves at a dizzying pace. We are ever consumed with busyness and a focus on our ourselves. What if we instead took the time to care for those less fortunate? To help someone in need of help? To lend a listening ear? To ask someone how we can serve them, and then offer to follow through with their request? To be a giver rather than a taker? Jesus consistently reached out to the less fortunate. He loved others with genuine passion. When we serve others, we serve Him. (Matthew 25:40-45).
In today’s world, it’s not always “popular” to be a Christian. We are encouraged to dim our lights or even put them out completely. Rather than follow the world’s demands, let’s vow to live out our faith daily with the confidence that we are called to a higher purpose and live for Someone greater than anyone on earth.
As someone once said, “You may be the only Jesus some people see.”
Besides a wife, mom, and author, I also am a fitness instructor and am passionate about good health. I’ve been encouraging the participants in my classes to make healthy lifestyle changes that will have results, and wanted to encourage you as well.
Please join me next week for our regularly-scheduled program. Until then, come join me for Penny’s Healthy Living Challenge!
Before I give details, I do need to reiterate two things. First, I’m not a medical professional and cannot give medical advice. Second, please check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise/supplement/eating regime to be sure it is safe for you.
Third, there may be some things on the list you can do and others that, due to limitations, whether time, health, pain, or otherwise, that you are unable to do. No worries! Do what you can and don’t worry about the rest.
A few notes…
Does not have to be consecutive days.
Each item done each day earns one point for that item per day.
One point for each item for each day accomplished so there is potential for 80 points per week based on a five-day plan. Challenge yourself to see how many points you can get in a week!
Penny’s Healthy Living Challenge:
Do at least 30 minutes of cardio
Do at least 30 minutes of weightbearing/weightlifting exercises
Do 25 jumps (i.e., jumping jacks, trampoline, or jumprope)
Do at least 20 situps/curls/or plank
Do 20 pushups
Spend time in God’s Word
No extra sugar in your diet
Do something nice for someone
Get 15 minutes of fresh air
Spend time in prayer
Get some Vitamin D (sunshine or synthetic)
Eat at least three vegetables
Eat at least three fruits
Get at least seven hours of sleep
Keep stress to a minimum
Drink 64 ounces of water
Have at least one belly laugh
Get 10,000 or more steps
Get a hug, give a hug (pets count!)
God gave us amazing bodies. Eyes that can see the beauty of Creation, from a tiny baby to the mountains in the distance. Arms that are capable of giving the best hugs. Legs that carry us daily to where we need to go. We need to take care of what God has blessed us with, and what better time to begin than now?
How are you doing with the challenge? I would love to hear about your progress, so feel free to leave me a comment!
One of my favorite modern Christmas songs is This is Christmas by Kutless. The words in the chorus are thought-provoking and profound:
What is Christmas? If there never was a Savior wrapped in a manger What is Christmas without Christ?
Indeed. What if a Baby, who would grow to be the Savior of mankind, was never born?
For one, we would definitely not have the Christmas holiday. There would be nothing to celebrate.
I love the whole idea of Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving, my husband gets a calorie-burning workout hauling the numerous bins of decorations from our Christmas closet up the stairs. He then heads outside to set up “Wally and Eva,” our two laser light devices that shine brightly all over the front of our house and garage.
There is joy in shopping for presents for my family and mailing packages to my extended family in several different states. The delight my daughters and I find in baking delicious goodies for our neighbors and close friends and delivering them a few weeks in advance is an event we look forward to each year.
And don’t even get me started on Christmas music. Let’s just say my Christmas playlistsomehow mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) found its way into playing more than a few days before Thanksgiving. Nope, I just couldn’t wait. And I seemed to run even farther and faster on the treadmill while listening to that Christmas playlist.
All of those things in and of themselves are fine. It’s when we replace the real meaning of Christmas with temporary things—and put our focus solely on those things—that we find ourselves in error.
Anything can become an idol—anything that we make more important than God. Can Christmas presents, decorations, food, tinsel, and laser lights become idols?
Or add in the busyness of this time of year. The pressure to live up to expectations to create the holiday a certain way for others, as well as ourselves, can become a stress-fest.
Or the debt that we manage to accumulate while finding all those perfect presents for everyone on our gift list.
Do we even remember—and take time to realize—that the perfect present is right before us? The gift of eternal life for those of us who have placed our faith in Christ. Something that will far outlast anything in our temporary world.
So I’m reminding myself this year that it is all about the Savior who was born in the manger. It is all about that Baby who was born on earth and grew to be a man and would give His life for all mankind. A brutal death with the sins of the world on His back, Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice.
For us all.
This holiday season, let’s make Christ the ultimate reason we celebrate. Let’s place Him in His rightful place of importance. Ahead of the trees, the food, the presents, the Christmas music, and the laser lights.
And let’s do more than celebrate Him. Let’s show our gratitude for what He has done for us. Not just on December 25, but on every day of the year.
Other blog posts on this blog you may be interested in reading:
The other day while at a local place of business, I noticed that several of the employees were bustling around doing their jobs. Save one. A teen had plopped on a folding chair, legs extended, proceeding to be on his phone for a majority of the time I was patronizing this business.
A relative of mine has a coworker who routinely shows up late for work, and at times, doesn’t show up for work at all. Such a choice has placed the business in a bind on several occasions. It has also made more work for the employees who take their jobs seriously.
A local business manager shared with me that they are struggling to find help to fill all of their available positions, and when they do find help, a lot of those workers are unreliable.
Poor work ethic seems to have become more prominent. There are several reasons for this:
– Inadequate instruction of the importance of work ethic on the part of their parents, whereby children are “given” everything and not required to earn anything.
– A culture that thrives on a “microwave” mentality of wanting everything right now and lacks the patience to work hard for anything. (Case in point: the new 20-year-old employee who wants to be paid the same amount as the 50-year-old who has been at a company for 15 years).
– Paying people more to sit at home than to work, as has been the case this past year.
– Refusal of employees to acknowledge they are stealing from their employer by way of using company time to scan social media, play video games, or making personal phone calls.
How can we instill the importance of a good work ethic in our children?
Model it. We can hardly expect our children to exhibit a strong work ethic if we ourselves are lazy and uncommitted to hard work.
Practice it. Our children and teens need to see us regularly practicing our own strong work ethic.
Encourage it from an early age. This can be done in the form of helping parents with projects and regular age-appropriate chores.
Clearly communicate what is expected. Explain patiently and thoroughly the task at hand and what is required.
Encourage volunteerism. Doing something for someone without expectation of payment is one of the most critical ways we can instill a powerful work ethic.
Embolden our kids to work for something they want. It is amazing how, when a teen has to pay for something from his or her own funds, that it no longer is a “necessity”. We need to teach our children that things are expensive (and never more than in recent days!) and that someone had to work to afford that “luxury”. When our teens have to pay for something themselves from time to time, they begin to value the importance of the hard work that allowed them to purchase that item.
Encourage them to go the extra mile and to take initiative. My oldest daughter often asks “what can I do to help?” I love it that she coined this phrase (and then acted upon it!) from an early age.
Teach respect for authority. The Bible has much to say about respecting authority. From the time our children are toddlers, we as parents should be teaching them that respecting authority is paramount, with God being our primary authority, followed by parents. If our children are unable to obey their first authority (us, after God), then they will be unable to obey other authorities, i.e., teachers, employers, and the police.
Instill the importance of being a team player.
Teach children that school is one of their first jobs. Whether they are homeschooled or attend a private, charter, or public school, their educational experience is one of their first jobs. A child who takes their education seriously will be better able to grow into a valued employee.
Don’t be afraid to allow “life lessons”. If your teen makes the choice to arrive at work late of his or her own accord, don’t rescue them from the consequences.
Most importantly, encourage your children to remember that whatever they do, do it as if doing it for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).
When my daughters and niece and nephews were toddlers, they could transform our home into a war zone in a matter of minutes. Nearly all of the toys, books, and dress-up clothes from the playroom migrated to other parts of the house in a split second, as five creative minds embarked on whimsical adventures. When it was time for my niece and nephews to return home, we played a game called “Tornado”. I set the oven timer and encouraged the toddlers to become tornadoes. How fast could they whirl around the room and return the items to their homes?
With the fervor and zeal of cyclones, five little kiddos flurried in all different directions, retrieving toys, books, and dress-up clothes and returning them to their rightful homes. They giggled as they sometimes bonked into a fellow “tornado”, and in the generous time allotted, my home soon took on a somewhat clean appearance once again.
Sometimes we, as parents, have to be creative in teaching our children the responsibility that leads to a strong work ethic. But by doing so, we can, with a lot of prayer and help from the Lord, instill in our children a character trait that will impact their lives forever.
Years ago when our daughters were toddlers, my husband Lon and I took them to the park for a free special event. We arrived early and while the event’s coordinators were setting up bouncy houses and other kid-friendly stations, we milled around the extensive local park. Seeing that they had already started the barbecue with hot dogs, chips, and pop, we stood in line and waited our turn.
When we arrived at the front of the line, one of the men grilling the hot dogs mentioned that he didn’t realize we worked for such-and-such company. Lon and I looked at each other before I asked, “such-and-such company?”
“Yes,” the man said. “This is a private employee picnic for those who work at the company.”
Lon and I quickly escaped the line, our faces red with embarrassment, as we apologized to our disappointed little girls.
Sometimes things are not obvious. It wasn’t obvious to us that day that this was a private picnic, plopped in the middle of the area where the free special event would take place.
And so it is with false teaching of the Bible. Sometimes it’s not easy to discern when it is plopped in the center of an otherwise Biblical-sounding sermon or podcast. Sometimes otherwise good teaching is interspersed with falsehoods or even heresy. That’s when we need to be on our guard the most.
So how do we spot false teaching?
By praying for discernment. There is no doubt that discernment can be difficult, which is why we should pray often that God would give us the wisdom to spot untruths. Some pastors and Bible teachers have a knack for being convincing or saying just enough good stuff to sound legit. Or their method of delivery is so passionate and persuasive that their audience can’t help but believe what they say.
By being in the Word often. We cannot filter the truth from the false without knowing what the Truth is. We can’t know what the Truth is if we never study it. Plan to not only open your Bible, but to study it. Read the commentary. Pray for guidance as you seek to understand.
By seeking godly wisdom from mentors. God has blessed me with three godly mentors in my life. They have spent countless hours discipling me, answering my questions, and guiding me through rough times. It’s important to have at least one trusted mentor who is a mature Christian.
A friend at church told me that he once heard that we all need someone discipling us who is more advanced in their Christian walk than we are, and that we ought to be discipling someone who is a newer Believer. I agree. Mentors can be found at church, in Bible studies, and can be family members, friends, or those with a ministry. One of my favorite things about our church’s Sunday school class is listening to the wisdom shared by several of the attendees – most of whom are mature Christians and are old enough to be at least my parents, if not my grandparents.
By holding everything to the Word of God. My daughters and I have discussed often that everyone has an opinion and that there are gazillion ideas from all sorts of people in all sorts of media platforms. Pick up a book, turn on the TV, listen to a podcast, chat with a friend, hang out on social media…and you’ll discover a wide range of ideas and “true facts”. The only true Truth Meter we have is the Word of God. We need to hold everything up to it and see whether it aligns.
By becoming a researcher. No matter who is preaching, whether you are sitting in a pew on Sunday morning, listening to a podcast in the comfort of your living room, or watching “virtual” church, take a minute to “fact check” the pastor or Bible teacher. A quick internet research can give you some insight as to what the teacher believes, what their statement of faith consists of, and possibly other information that can help you discern whether or not they are on the right track.
Some people will say that if the teaching is mostly good, then there’s nothing wrong if one or two things aren’t. I would respectfully disagree. For one, a little bit of falsity contaminates the entire message. Secondly, for the one leading the teaching, while some listeners might be more discerning that others, some will stumble. The Bible is clear about causing people to stumble.
Case in point: I recently listened to a sermon that was good. Yet, toward the end, the pastor highlighted a story from a popular website that is widely known for its unbiblical teaching. While there are some articles on this website that are “decent,” most of them are not (and I personally do not think it is a website for Bible-believing Christians to take their information from). So to quote this website could quite possibly have caused many in his listening audience to stumble. They may go to this website, trusting that it’s okay because the pastor mentioned a story from it. He may know that not all the stories on it are in alignment with God’s Word and can pick and choose with discernment, but to the average believer, or maybe even an unbeliever listening to his sermon, this might not be the case. We have to be careful not to cause others to stumble.
False teaching can be difficult to pinpoint, but with prayer, using the Bible as the only Truth meter, doing some research, and by enlisting the help of godly mentors, we can learn to test everything and hold fast to what is good.
While foreign missions are an exciting and valuable way to fulfill The Great Commission, we don’t have to go far to make an impact. All that most of us have to do to be in the mission field is to step outside our front door.
We as Believers are all missionaries when we spread the Gospel, whether by actions, words, deeds, or a combination of all three. It has been said that we could be the only Jesus that some people see.
Thought-provoking. Humbling. And something that should spur us on with a vigor to share the Good News about our Savior.
So how are we using our influence?
And yes, we all have influence.
If you are a parent, grandparent, employer, employee, pastor, author, speaker, grocery shopper, neighbor, singer, actor, business owner, medical professional, patient, teacher, student, blogger, or a social media user, you have a platform and a sphere of influence.
Everyone can make a difference for the Lord. We just have to be mindful of our actions, words, and deeds. Here are a few examples:
The parent. Raising children is one of the most important responsibilities we parents will be entrusted with. And the most important thing about raising them? Teaching them about the Lord and praying that they will surrender their lives to Christ. Each day, we set examples for them. Do they see us reading the Bible? Making church a priority? Praying often? Helping those in need? Do we read the Bible to them on a regular basis, or if they are older, spend time reading and studying the Bible with them?
The grandparent. Grandparents, you truly have no idea the impact you make on your grandchildren. Even if they don’t live nearby, you can still exhibit a heart for God. Sharing your testimony, reminding them of His love for them, texting Bible verses, and being there to talk through the tough times are just a few ways to encourage your grandchild in the Lord.
The employer. As an employer, you can show the love of Christ by being an honorable boss who makes your employees a priority.
The employee. Bosses know when they have an employee who stands out from the rest. Being reliable, punctual, dependable, loyal, and with a good work ethic can go a long way. Yes, a nonbeliever can have those traits as well, but as Christians, we should exemplify them. Do you stand out from the other employees? Are you the one who doesn’t resort to swear words or hateful rhetoric? Who takes pride in your duties, no matter what they are?
The pastor. Pastors, a majority of the people in your congregation on Sunday only hear about Jesus on that day during your sermon. Are you using that time wisely, to carefully explore the Bible in a way that pleases God? Or are you using those few precious moments for other less important matters or to further your own agenda?
The author/writer. Authors and writers, you have an invaluable platform. The written word reaches hearts and minds in a way that the spoken word can’t often do. You don’t have to write Christian novels to have an effect on your readers. Your bio and the things that matter to you are impactful.
The medical professional. Healthcare professionals who are Christians approach things from a different perspective. You have the awesome opportunity to pray for (and with if they are agreeable) your patients, to offer reassurance, and your calming presence can do wonders for someone undergoing a medical procedure or one who is scared about a painful diagnosis.
The patient. On the flipside of the medical professional is the patient. My mom has multiple health issues and is confined to a wheelchair. The chronic pain she experiences on a constant basis is often unmanageable. Yet, I have never seen anyone so strong in her faith, and that faith doesn’t stop when she visits the doctor. She has offered to pray for medical professionals (not one has turned her down), has asked them to join her in prayer when she’s about to undergo an excruciating procedure, and has praised the Lord for His goodness in their presence. Will my mom ever be able to do the things she once was able to do before an accident changed her life forever? No. But God is using her to make a mighty difference.
The blogger/social media user. Bloggers and social media users, we have a huge platform for the Lord! Where else can we share the love of Christ to people in multiple nations around the world? While not every post or update needs to be a Bible verse, (I blog on many other items including writing, homeschooling, humor, and movie reviews) our words can encourage someone having a difficult day or shine Christ’s light.
Realize your influence. Whether by visiting with the grocery store clerk and inviting her to church or as an employer treating your employees differently than the worldly employer, you can be the Jesus people see.
No, we won’t do this perfectly. Of this I can personally assure you. But with the Lord’s help, we can seek to share the love of Jesus and the life-giving Gospel no matter what our occupation or role in life.
These days, we don’t have to go far to find someone who will disagree with us. Our communities, country, and sadly, sometimes families and friendships have become hotbeds for conflict.
One of the beautiful things about living in America is that we have the freedom of speech. Although we are seeing a stifling of our right to speak, but that’s a topic for another time.
Because of our freedom of speech, we are able to give our opinions, comment on posts, blogs, parlays, and tweets, and share our thoughts in person. Religious rights, the death penalty, gun control, abortions, mask usage, illegal immigration, how to handle COVID, and school choice are just some of the topics we can find ourselves at odds at with others.
Unfortunately, sometimes those debates can turn into something much less than peaceful discourse.
Case in point: I recently stumbled upon a social media group where bullying was rampant. A woman was saying that because she has asthma, she is unable to wear a mask.
One after the other, hateful comments appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. It became not a peaceful back-and-forth discussion about who does and who doesn’t support wearing masks. Rather, it became one of horrific attack methods and hatefulness directed at a woman who couldn’t wear a mask because of health issues.
Masks are probably one of the most contentious topics in recent days. I have my own opinions about them – albeit strong ones – but no matter how strongly we disagree with someone, it never does any good to be disrespectful, vicious, or spiteful.
So how do we ensure our disagreements are respectful?
Realize that family and friendships are not worth winning an argument. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree.
Remember we can’t take words back once we say them. Oh, but that we could all take a magic vitamin that would put a guard over our mouth! Keeping in mind that once a word is uttered, the hearer can’t unhear it, can go a long way in thinking before speaking.
Try to respond calmly. This doesn’t come naturally to most of us, especially when it’s a contentious subject. Praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and praying for the Lord’s control over your words throughout the interaction is critical.
Remember that healthy disagreements are actually good. Constructive arguments can bring to light what needs to be said. My husband, a manager, once noticed severe tension between two of his workers. He could have written them up, and/or forced them to go their separate ways, leaving the topic unsettled. Instead, he called them into the small break room and told them to discuss the matter and that they weren’t leaving until it was resolved. Was it a bit loud and unruly at times? Yes, but within a few minutes, the two men were sitting at the table calmly discussing it. When my husband returned a half hour later, they were making plans on where to go out for lunch.
Men are a unique species that way, or at least in the past they were. They would have an argument, duke it out, and remain friends afterwards. I am saddened to say that with women, it’s the opposite. We women have long memories and if someone did something to us in 1853, we still remember it and hold a grudge. This should definitely not be the case.
Don’t attack the other person. James 3:5 reminds us of what a danger our tongue can be.
Know your facts before launching into an argument. You might not win the other’s person’s agreement, but you might win their respect.
Try not to take it personally. Easier said than done. Sometimes people already having a bad day need only one more irritant to lash out and you inadvertently happen to be that irritant. Not an excuse for their poor behavior, but a good reminder that we have been shown much grace and should extend that same grace to others.
Listen twice as much as you speak. Someone once said that we have two ears and one mouth because we need to listen more than we speak. James 1:19 tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Sometimes when someone is disagreeing with us, especially verbally, it can be tempting to interrupt and cut in with our own opinions before the other person is finished with theirs. Instead, listen – really listen – even if you don’t agree with what they are saying. This is one of the surest forms of respect.
Don’t let trivial matters divide you. At the end of the day, it’s just not worth it.
Don’t belittle or diminish the other person’s opinions. While we may be diametrically opposed to anything they may say about a topic (and sometimes with good reason), putting someone down never wins the discussion.
Remember that God made us all different. It would be pretty boring if we all agreed on everything. We should welcome respectful conversation about the difficult topics, not ban it or shame those who don’t agree with us.
Think about eternity. Remembering that if you both are Christians you will be spending eternity together can put things into perspective.
I’m not too old to remember when we could disagree respectfully and peacefully and remain friends. While it seems that may never be the case again, we can make huge strides by responding in a Christlike manner.
Other posts on this blog you may enjoy (click on the link and it will open a new page with the post):
Parents are highly influential in a child’s life. Children are also influenced by youth pastors, teachers, social media, peers, coaches, employers, movie stars, sports figures, and their favorite singers.
Our children receive a lot of “information” in today’s media-saturated world by which to base their opinions about everything from what to wear to which stance to take on important world events.
How can we teach our children, that while those who influence them are important (some more than others), they do need to learn to think for themselves?
Encourage good role models. With our patient help and God’s guidance, they can navigate the wide range of choices in today’s society and choose a role model that will influence their lives for the better. For tips, check out 10 ways to help your kids choose good role models.
Give them practice. As a homeschool mom, I’ve often come up with several out-of-the-box assignments designed to help my daughters, not only think for themselves, but to also investigate “all sides of an issue”. My youngest daughter recently began an in-depth assignment I gave her regarding mask usage. Her assignment is to investigate fully the pros and cons and whether or not masks are effective in preventing the spread of Covid. She is also to research and find out if there are any “side effects” with regular mask wearing. This would include researching the opinions and studies of several medical professionals from various outlets, from the private sector to governmental agencies, and everyone in between – with an open mind.
The second part of the assignment is to take a poll/survey on both social media and among family members and friends, encouraging them to weigh in with comments.
The conclusion of her assignment would be to make a decision based on her research.
Other assignments have included: Should we keep the Electoral College? Why or why not? Is socialism a good idea and why are some in the United States pushing for socialism?
During election years, my daughters are given assignments to fully investigate and research the candidates running for offices, whether they be local, county, state, or federal offices. Based on those investigations, they complete a sample ballot indicating who they would vote for and why.
Letters to the editor have also been assigned, as well as research on world religions and how they compare to Christianity.
Encourage them to investigate. As I mentioned in my mask assignment, it’s critical to encourage our kids to investigate. Everything. Every day, I bring a topic to our breakfast table and my daughters and I discuss it. I have been doing this since they were little, and the topics have always been age-appropriate. We’ve ventured into such topics as peer pressure, drinking, drugs, what to look for in a husband, abortion, politics, and current events.
You don’t have to be a homeschooling family to give “practice assignments” or investigate topics over the breakfast table. The dinner table works just as well, as does time in the car going to and from activities. Also, public-schooled children will have an additional dynamic to add to the conversation based on their day at a public school.
Make time for important discussions. No matter what type of schooling your family partakes in, or even if your children are still too young to attend school or are college-aged, make time to have those important chats. You will never regret time spent with your children and time spent finding out what matters to them and what struggles they face. Having open dialogue helps them with important decisions and to think through those decisions with the assistance of trusted adults and siblings.
Encourage discernment. We live in a crazy, fast-paced, oftentimes biased world. Some influencers don’t have your children’s best interests at heart. Their “ideas” may be extreme, or at the very least, far different than those that are healthy or even reasonable for your child.
Teach your children how to discern between what is right and what is wrong. The only true and reliable “truth meter” to base discernment on is God’s Word. It is the only Truth that never changes in an ever-changing, chaotic world. If something is against His Word, then it’s not something we should espouse.
For example, many of today’s youth have been encouraged to destroy other people’s property or even harm people in the name of “peaceful protesting”. What does God’s Word have to say about burning, looting, destroying property and harming people?
The Bible is clear that we need to treat others the way we ourselves would want to be treated.
Encourage them to ask questions. Questions are a good thing and should be encouraged. It’s how they learn and it ensures they will take nothing at face value, but question all things.
Encourage respect. I’m not too young that I don’t remember a time when people could agree to disagree. A time when we could still care about and be friends with those with differing opinions. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.
In teaching our children to think for themselves, we must also teach them that when they do disagree with someone, whether it be politics, religion, medical choices, or something as mundane as what brand of clothes is best, they can do it respectfully. And to disagree respectfully does not mean that they condone the choices or behavior of the other party. It simply means that they choose not to disparage others due to differences of opinion.
In a world where at times evil is bent on securing your child’s devotion, make it a point to come alongside your child and teach them to think for themselves. To stand strong in the face of adversity, to question things that seem “off” and to, above all else, allow the Holy Spirit and the precious words found within the pages of the Bible to guide them in making the right decisions.