Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children

I think my friend Allison Bottke's book, Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children, has recently become the book I have most recommended (and given away copies of) in the last couple years of my ministry.

It is heartbreaking how many marriages and families are fractured by the destructive and manipulative behaviors of an adult child (or sibling, parent, etc.). Allison's book is a gripping, vulnerable, and practical account of how she learned the hard way to set boundaries with adult children and bring about health rather than guilt, abuse, and destruction. It outlines a workable alternative to the enabling relationships many of us think are normal, a way to restore sanity to lives that are spinning out of control:

S = STOP Enabling, STOP Blaming Yourself, and STOP the Flow of Money
A = Assemble a Support Group
N = Nip Excuses in the Bud
I = Implement Rules/Boundaries
T = Trust Your Instincts
Y = Yield Everything to God

Even if you don't feel like you're being dragged down by the burden of trying to help an adult family member, you know or minister to someone who does. This book can be a life-saver to that person. Get it in their hands.

The Most Important Aspect of Leadership

Here is Ed Young, speaking briefly on what he says is the most important aspect of leadership:

The Most Important Leadership Decisions

From the Catalyst blog comes this post by one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt, who writes about the most important leadership decisions a leader can make:
As leaders, you and I are called upon to make hundreds if not thousands of decisions over the course of a year. A few are monumental. Some are consequential. Most are trivial. However, I would boil down the most important decisions I make into three categories:
  1. Vision. Having a clear vision is essential to your organization’s health. Your organization exists to get something done. Your job is to take it somewhere. If you aren’t clear about the destination, you are going to end up lost—or, at best, side-tracked. As I have written before, what you want to accomplish is more important than how you do it. You must figure out the vision, before you can determine the strategy.
  2. Strategy. By emphasizing vision, I am not suggesting that strategy is unimportant. Strategy is critical. How you get from point A (where you are now) to Point B (where you want to be) is vitally important. Picking the right path is the essence of strategic thinking. The best strategies achieve the vision with the least amount of risk and in the most economical, efficient manner possible.
  3. People. As Jim Collins pointed out in Good to Great, leaders are responsible for getting “the right people on the bus.” In fact you could make the argument that these decisions are the most important decisions you can make. If you have the right people, they will figure out the right vision and the right strategy. I don’t want to quibble; these are all important decisions. But I believe vision and the strategy determine what kind people you need.
As the head of an organization, I don’t need to be involved in every decision. In fact, if I insist on doing so, I will only bog the organization down and discourage the incredibly bright and cable people who work for me.

But when it comes to vision, strategy, or key positions, I insist on being involved. To do less is to abdicate my role as a leader.
I think he's right. In fact, these three decisions should affect all the other decisions you make. If you're making micro-decisions without reference to these macro- areas, then you're probably just going to mess things up. Vision, strategy, and personnel make all the difference.

Peter and Andrew Argue Over the Woman Caught in Adultery

One day as Jesus was teaching, a group of religious men dragged a woman through the crowd and flung her to the ground at his feet.

One of them said, “Master, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says she should be stoned. What do you say?”

Jesus didn’t answer, but began writing with his finger in the dust at his feet.

After a few moments, the crowd of men clamored for an answer. So Jesus straightened, looked the spokesman in the eye, and said, “Let the one who is without sin among you throw the first stone.”

At that, he leaned forward and continued writing in the dirt.

Soon, several of the older men in the crowd turned and left. Then a few more, until the entire group of religious men had dispersed and left the woman alone in front of Jesus.

He stopped writing in the dust, and straightened. He looked at her. “Woman, where are your accusers? Does no one condemn you?”

“No one, Lord,” she said.

“Neither do I condemn you,” he said. “Go, and sin no more.”

When the woman had left, Jesus continued teaching. But Andrew pulled Peter aside. “Did you see that?”

“You bet I did,” Peter said.

“Wasn’t it great?”

“That’s not how I would describe it.”

“Why not?” Andrew asked.

“He just let her go.”

“I know. Such grace!”

“But don’t you see what people will think?”

“No,” Andrew said.

“They’ll think Jesus endorses adultery.”

“No way.”

“What else can they think? He didn’t say one word about adultery being wrong.”

“He didn’t have to. Moses made that clear.”

“But he didn't take a stand against her behavior,” Peter said.

“He just refused to condemn her. He showed her grace.”

“Exactly! Without a word of confession or repentance from her. He just let her off the hook.”

“But it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance,” Andrew said.

“She doesn’t deserve his kindness, unless she confesses and repents beforehand.”

“If she deserves it, it’s not grace. Grace is for the guilty, not the righteous.”

Peter shook his head. “You’re wrong. People are going to think Jesus is soft on sin.”

“He told her to ‘Go and sin no more.’”

“And then he just let her go. Who’s going to make sure she doesn’t sin?”

Andrew’s face showed his confusion. “What are you talking about?”

“There has to be follow-up. He can’t just let her go as if she did nothing wrong.”

“He didn’t,” Andrew said. “She’s an adult. She’s responsible for her own actions.”

“That’s exactly my point! If Jesus keeps treating people this way, they’ll do whatever they want.”

“And that’s exactly MY point: they’ll WANT to follow him, and please him, because of his love and kindness…and grace.”

“But you have to take a long view,” Peter said. “I’m concerned for the reputation of the church.”

“I am, too,” Andrew answered. “And I think Jesus is, too.”

“People will say we excuse sin.”

“Or they might say Jesus forgives sin. And heals sinners.”

“You just don’t understand,” Peter said.

“I guess,” Andrew admitted.

Moral Confusion

Here's a quote that hit me like a ton of bricks this morning, from the "Stuff Fundies Like" blog:
When a person’s moral conscience is bombarded with inanity, they lose their ability to discern when truly gross sin is in their midst.
It came at the end of a great post entitled, "Moral Confusion." Read the whole thing here.

Church of the Week: The Salvation Army, Chillicothe, Ohio

Over the course of our recent thirty-fourth wedding anniversary celebration, the lovely Robin and I revisited the site of our wedding ceremony, lo those many years ago. It's the Salvation Army corps (church) in Chillicothe, Ohio, her childhood home.

We were met there by the outgoing corps officers (pastors), who welcomed us so warmly and so very kindly let us roam the scene of the crime--er, the site where we exchanged our vows.

We ascended to the second-floor chapel, and reflected briefly on Robin's memory of falling down the steps as a pre-schooler (maybe these steps, or maybe the steps leading to the basement, which are now blocked off).

This is what we looked like back then, on June 4, 1977. Robin you'll recognize, of course, but I'm the skinny kid standing next to her. No, really. It's me. I kid you not.

And here's the chapel on Monday, June 6, 2011. Jesus still looks on in blessing.

We stopped in the basement room where, something like forty-five years ago or so, Robin knelt at an altar in children's church and prayed to receive Christ--a commitment she's never wavered in since.

Before leaving, we stopped in to the gymnasium where our wedding reception was held (back in the day when a punch and cake reception was more than, those were good days).

What a joy it was to revisit the scene of the--um, joy, on the weekend of our anniversary trip. A beautiful walk down memory lane, and a fun addition to the "church of the week" features here on the Desperate Pastor blog.

Ways to Stay Creative

Here's a fun video, "29 Ways to Stay Creative." I would have gone for 30 or 31, but maybe that's because I'm more creative. Heh heh.


We Love All Our Kids Equally....Just Some More Equally Than Others

From the Jesus Needs New PR blog comes this snapshot of (apparently) the burial plot of Bob Jones's parents:

So do you think Bob Jones's eleven siblings can identify just a little bit with the brothers of the patriarch Joseph?

As Jesus Needs New PR said, "bet family reunions are fun at the Jones’ house."

Triumph Over Yourself

God is lately doing a new thing in me, teaching me a lot, stretching me a lot, and humbling me a whole lot. This quote from John Newton (1725-1807), swiped from Ray Ortlund's blog, is one of the many ways I think God has spoken to me. He writes of how a true follower of Jesus should deal with conflict:
As you are likely to be engaged in controversy, and your love of truth is joined with a natural warmth of temper, my friendship makes me solicitous on your behalf. . . . I would have you more than a conqueror and to triumph not only over your adversary but over yourself. If you cannot be vanquished, you may be wounded. To preserve you from such wounds as might give you cause of weeping over your conquests, I would present you with some considerations . . . .

As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him, and such a disposition will have a good influence on every page you write.

If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom are very applicable: ‘Deal gently with him for my sake.’ The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven. He will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts. And though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever.

But if you look upon him as an unconverted person, in a state of enmity against God and his grace (a supposition which, without good evidence, you should be very unwilling to admit), he is a more proper object of your compassion than of your anger. Alas! ‘He knows not what he does.’ But if God, in his sovereign pleasure, had so appointed, you might have been as he is now, and he, instead of you, might have been set for the defense of the gospel. If you attend to this, you will not reproach or hate him, because the Lord has been pleased to open your eyes, not his.

Of all people who engage in controversy, we who are called Calvinists are most expressly bound by our own principles to the exercise of gentleness and moderation.”

John Newton, writing to a young minister, The Works of John Newton (Edinburgh, 1988), I:268-270.

Church of the Week: Hanna's Creek Christian Church

I preached at Hanna's Creek Christian Church, near Liberty, Indiana, back in February 1994, when they were between pastors. My title was "The Symphony of Heaven," and my text was Isaiah 6. I'm sure they remember it to this day.

Hanna's Creek is a venerable church, lovingly tended inside and out through the years. It is located on Kitchel Road, surrounded by farmland, just around the corner from my dear friends the Hughes family and the Powers family.

Are You Dangerous?

Leaders don’t need to have all the answers. In fact, we should be concerned about leaders with all the answers. They are dangerous (Rick Warren).