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...

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