Friday, October 21, 2011

Training Your Kids To Fail Forward-Part 3

It Starts With You
            In order to properly train our kids to fail forward, we must first learn how to fail forward in our own lives. The first step is to admit you made a mistake immediately after you make it. Don’t put it off. Tell your kids face-to-face, “I blew it.” Let me tell you something else. Don’t write your children a letter. Don’t put it in a memo. It is vital that you do it face-to-face, and do it now.
I learned early in life that it is better to quickly admit a mistake instead of putting it off. As a child I knew that I would not get in nearly as much trouble if I went ahead and told the truth right away. When I would lie to get out of something, not only did I get punished eventually for what I did, I also got punished for lying! I don’t know about you, but for me two whippings are bad. Double your pleasure, double your fun, but don’t double your whippings!
Two wrongs never make a right. As parents we must teach our children to tell the truth the first time. But remember, if kids don’t see this modeled in their parents’ lives, they are not going to behave this way either.
            Now, once you have admitted the mistake, repent. Children need to see that the home is a model and example of repentance. You see, there’s a difference between “I’m sorry I got caught” and true repentance. The word repent means to do a one-eighty. It means the person must go in the opposite direction than where they were headed. True repentance says, “I’m sorry. I realize this behavior is wrong, and now I am going to do the opposite of what I was doing.”
            Repentance is what salvation is all about. When I became a Christ follower, I was taken out of the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of Light. I changed directions. My actions were totally different. When I got saved, I didn’t really know the Word. I was just smart enough to realize anything that I had been doing up until the time I asked Jesus into my heart, I was not going to continue doing. I didn’t hear a sermon about not using drugs or making lifestyle changes. I just knew I needed a Savior, and I needed to do the opposite of what I used to do. Right now, your challenge is to model this same choice for your kids.
            One of the key ingredients in repentance is taking responsibility for your actions. We have all had the baseball-through-the-window experience. Truly taking responsibility means that if you broke it, you must pay for it.
Growing up, I did some really stupid stuff. But one of the things that caused me to quit making mistakes was the fact that I could not afford them. I knew that when I made a mistake, I had to say I was sorry, but I also had to earn the money to make restitution. It is important to realize that our kids are not going to learn this if we do not do whatever it takes in our own lives. Children must see you offer to repay, even work extra to pay the person back.
            Some will say, “Well, I’m under grace. I’ve been forgiven.” Yes, but sin has its consequences. I know people that are gloriously saved . . . in prison. They have repented for their actions, but they must still serve time because of what they did.
Our kids need to understand that Mom and Dad are going to forgive them, but there is still a consequence to pay. Where are children going to learn this? The answer is easy, us. When you make a mistake, whether it is on the job or at home, admit it and offer to pay for it.
            I had an intern years ago that decided he was going to make overhead transparencies. The only problem was that he did not grab overhead transparencies; he just grabbed some plastic sheets that he thought were transparencies. This intern put them in the copier and began to make copies. When the first two or three didn’t work, he did what any young person would do, he just kept putting more in. Before long the entire copier was all messed up.
I was so proud of this kid because he offered to pay for his mistake. We didn’t make him pay for it, but we were so glad that he offered. This young man understood that he should have taken responsibility and asked about how to make overhead transparencies. But when he broke the copier, he took responsibility and offered to do whatever it took to pay for his mistake. That was not something he learned on his own. His parents put that in him. That is something that I want in my children, but I believe the only way it will happen is if they see a living example first.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Homeless Blogger...

Hello friends. My name is Kenny Conley and I’m the homeless blogger. What does that mean? Well, I have a blog over at My blog was very sick with a nasty virus, but things are better now. Since she’s recovering, I’m still not quite home yet or putting out a bunch of new posts yet. Like always, I’ve got something to say… I just didn’t have anyplace to say it. So, thanks to some good friends, they’re giving this homeless blogger a couch to sleep on and letting me finish off the carton of ice cream in the freezer.
The Homeless Blogger: More Things I’d Tell the Old Me
I recently wrote 2 homeless blogger posts about things I’d tell myself if I could speak into the version of me 15 years ago. Obviously it’s too late to do that, but perhaps these posts might help someone who is where I was 15 years ago.

Focus on Parents. They’re the key to this whole thing!
I’ve been sharing this story with a lot of people recently. I remember about 9 or 10 years ago, it was my first opportunity to speak in big church... on a Wednesday night. No, I wasn’t ready for the prime time yet. So, I was going to do what any children’s pastor would do with an opportunity to have the main stage... I was going to talk about serving in kidmin.

I remember being totally jazzed about the opportunity. I was going to pull out my Bible and speak the Word of truth and show how serving in the children’s ministry was God’s will for everyone’s life. :)

To this day, I remember what happened next. As I started digging into the word for the meat of my message and I remember getting really frustrated. Every verse and passage dealing with equipping and training kids to know God didn’t fit the angle I was hoping to take. It seemed more parent directed than “serving in kids church” directed. I had an epiphany that day. I remember a thought coming to my mind saying, “Hmmm, I think there’s something to this.” I quickly went back to message prep and didn’t think much about my forgotten epiphany until just a few years ago... when the Family Ministry movement really started to gain traction.

I truly believe that there is a very valuable place for ministry to kids in the church. A strong children’s ministry is why I’m doing what I’m doing today. However, in most cases, parents are going to make or break a child’s long term walk with God.

Two days ago I wrote a somewhat “touchy” post about discipleship in kidmin on Gina McClain’s blog. Personally, I don’t think discipleship really happens in children’s ministry (this is my own opinion). The key to effective discipleship is TIME and 1-2 hours a week doesn’t really add up to discipleship in my book. When students are dropping out of faith at a rate of 70-80%, I’d propose that what we’ve called discipleship is far from what Jesus would call discipleship. It’s not because we don’t mean well, we just don’t have the access to kids to really disciple them... but parents do. If you ask Reggie he’ll tell you that parents have 3000 hours a year of unscheduled time with their kids. That’s plenty of time to disciple a kid or two... maybe ten.

If we really want to make a long term difference, we gotta tap in on that influence. We need to equip moms and dads to disciple their kids. They really are the key to this whole thing.

Thanks Bro. Jim for hosting my post. Sorry I used up all your hot water. Is it wrong so wrong to take 45 minute showers? Look for my next post by following my tweets at

See past homeless blogger posts at the following sites:

Small Town Kidmin

Jenny Funderburke

Sam Luce

Dustin Nickerson

Brian Dollar

Matt McKee

Gina McClain

Ryan Frank

Spencer Click

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Training Your Kids To Fail Forward-Part 2

Living Models
            How many of you remember hearing this, “Do as I say, not as I do”? As parents, we have a responsibility to do more than just give our children lip service. We cannot continue saying, “You do this, and I will do that.” This kind of thinking riled up my generation; we shot the peace sign and grew out our hair three feet. But kids today are not like long-hair hippies; they are short-hair hippies. They don’t shoot the peace sign; they shoot one another. Surprisingly, the thing that has them riled up is the same thing that had my generation riled up. They are tired of people saying, “Here’s one set of rules for you, and here’s another set of rules for me.”
            It’s your job as a parent to be a living model for your children in all things. This includes training them how to handle mistakes. A lot of parents teach their children how to do right. When children make a bad decision rather than listening to the Word, many follow the crowd’s example of how to handle it. As parents, we must train our children how to fail forward. And that process begins when we as parents step on to the runway of life and model our decisions for our children.
            Some of you may be saying, “But I bring my kids to church. Isn’t that what the children’s pastor is supposed to do?” Well, let’s look at what God’s Word says about that. In Deuteronomy 6:6 it says, “These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” Now who was God talking to? He was talking to His people, the children of Israel. If He’s talking to His people, then He’s talking to us too. This is something we the parents are to do. We as parents must follow God’s commandments.
Then, look at the first part of verse seven, “teach them diligently unto thy children.” Whose job is that? Parents! Parents are to teach the Word of God to their children. Verse seven continues, “Talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” There are opportunities every day to impress the Word into your children. Talk about the Word when you relax at home, when you drive from place to place, before you go to bed, and when you get up.
These verses are talking about a lifestyle. It’s not just something you follow on Sunday and Wednesday. It’s not just something you follow when it is convenient. For some of you, that means you are going to have to make some time for your children. Turn off the television! Turn off the radio! Talk to your children! What a radical concept.
            The truth is you cannot impart things into your children that you are not willing to do yourself. The best examples that your children have are you the parents. When my girls were born, I quickly realized that if I wanted my girls to grow and marry a man of God, I needed to be a man of God. If I didn’t want them to date jerks, I needed to treat their mother the way I wanted some young man to treat them one day.
I believe with all my heart what is good for the goose is good for the gander. The same set of rules applies to you as well as to your children. We all must model the behavior we want our kids to follow. This means that when you make a mistake or fail at something, the way you handle it is the way your kids will learn to handle it.
When you make a mistake, go to the Word, correct the error and vow to never make that same mistake again. This is the key to failing forward. This will be the example that trains your kids how to handle their own mistakes. As you fail forward, you will see your children do the same.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Training Your Kids To Fail Forward

After more than thirty years of children’s ministry, I have not only had the opportunity to minister to children, but I have also spent just as much time training adult leaders. I know that there are only a few called to full time children’s ministry in the church, but everyone who has a child is called to a different form of children’s ministry—parenting. After raising two daughters of my own, I understand the need for quality parenting resources, so my goal is to provide you with posts that specifically targets issues parents face on a regular basis.
After my first daughter was born, I resolved in my heart that I would do whatever it took to develop a relationship with her. If that meant I had to learn how to enjoy shopping or even hand over the television remote, then so be it! It is possible for a man to do those things. I have even come to enjoy watching decorating programs and the cooking channel. Girl world is not a bad place to live.
In my first book for parents, Connecting with Your Kids, I give simple steps any parent can follow to building relationships with their children that will last into adulthood. Training Kids to Fail Forward is the next installment of life lessons any parent can immediately apply. You see, I know one thing for sure, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. This also means that there’s no such thing as a perfect child. So in this blog post, I tackle one of the most important aspects to failure that all parents should know.
I truly believe that the key to failure is realizing that the mistakes you make do not keep you from accomplishing your God-given purpose; it’s what you do after the mistake that determines whether you’ll go forward or backward. Once we as parents learn how to fail forward, we can properly train our children to do the same. Your kids may still be toddlers, maybe in elementary or even high school, but I want you to know it’s never too late to make right decisions and model them for your kids. When we understand that failure is not what keeps a person from succeeding, then failure simply becomes a launching pad for success. 
I am originally from Alabama, and like “Forest Gump” my mama told me important things all the time. One thing she told me a lot was, “Jim, don’t make the same mistake twice. There are enough different ones you can make every time.” Over the years I have found that to be true. In fact, I have made so many mistakes and corrected them that things are actually starting to work out in my life. I am not alone. We have all made mistakes that we can learn from.
            Have you ever made a mistake as a parent? I mean, you really blew it big time? You are not alone. There are good parents, but there is no such thing as a perfect parent. The good parents are the ones that realize that when they make mistakes, they can learn and improve from those mistakes. We have all made mistakes and blown it as parents.
            If there is no such thing as a perfect parent, that means there is no such thing as a perfect child either. Yes, that’s right. Your children are not perfect. I am sure many of you are nodding your head right now agreeing with me, but I know better. When I was a school administrator, I had to call parents into my office to discuss a situation their child was involved in, and many times their reactions were, “My child did what? No, not my little Susie. No, no. Not my perfect child.” Parents, listen to me. My kids aren’t perfect and neither are yours.
Let’s face it. Our children are just like us. In fact, I have worked really hard to get my two girls to not be like me. But over time I have come to realize the things they do that drive me the craziest are the things that are just like me.
Parents are not perfect. Kids are not perfect. We all make mistakes, but it is not the mistake that keeps us from accomplishing God’s will on this earth. It’s what we do after we make the mistake that causes us to either go forward or backward. That means what we do when we fail is what really counts.
One of my favorite commercials in the whole world is a Michael Jordan commercial. In the commercial it lists the failures in Jordan’s life. Did you know he missed more than 9,000 shots? That’s a lot of shots. He lost over 300 games. Now, that’s something we don’t hear about very much. Twenty-six times he had the chance at the last buzzer to take the game-winning shot, and he missed. In his life, he has failed over and over and over. But that’s why he succeeds. It’s not the fact that he makes mistakes; it’s the fact that uses the mistakes to propel him forward.
Just like Jordan, we will fail. We will make mistakes. In fact, Psalms 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” A lot of people stop right here and say, “Oh, we have troubles! We’ve blown it!” But look at the rest of this verse, “The Lord delivereth him out of them all.” You must choose to be a victor and not a victim.
Just like Jordan, our mistakes can propel us forward. Plus, when we as parents make mistakes, how we handle the mistakes becomes a model for our children to learn how to handle their own mistakes. When we use our mistakes to send us forward, our children learn to stop and think after each of their mistakes. They begin to evaluate and consider, “Okay, I made a mistake, but what I do next is more important.” As both parents and children understand and apply this principle, it equips everyone to fulfill their God-given destiny.
Additionally, you must make a choice to not let circumstances slow you down. Choose to think God’s thoughts by lining your thoughts up with the Word of God. Choose to do the right thing according to what the Word instructs you. It’s all about choices.

More to come...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

I'm Excited About the Kidmin Conference This Week-Part 3

 I still attend conferences for these same reasons. Number one to learn. I've made a list of what I want to learn from others at the kidmin conference. I've already set up several appointments and meals.

Number two to network and meet people and number three to find resources and helps to aid my ministry. There are a few people I have never met that I'm wanting to meet, there are some other 'young guns' I want to get to know better. There are also some other dear friends I can't wait to get to spend time with. In fact if I'm not teaching you'll find me in the store or the networking lounge.

 But I’ve also learned two more important reasons to attend a conference. The forth reason I attend conferences are that it is good to get away and listen to God. Jim can’t you hear God in your own town. Yes, but there’s some real benefit to leaving the cares and responcibilities of the local church and just get away. It’s really the same benefits of getting kids to get away from their normal lives and go to camp and listen to God. Some of the most important conferences in my life that I attended were not life changing because of the information I learned or received but because of what God confirmed or spoke to my heart. It’s good to get away and listen, to pray to expose yourself to different or new thinking and let God so a work in your heart. I am expecting God to speak to me and reveal some things to me I am expecting to learn.

How about you? What are you wanting to learn? Who do you want to meet and learn from? Are you excited about getting away and hearing from God? 
Why are you excited about Group's #Kidmin11 Conference?