The Eyes Don’t Lie

Eyes Light Up -2I subscribe to a lot of blogs.  Most of them are about leadership and topics related to leadership.  But I subscribe to some that have nothing to do with leadership at all.  (Or, at least, that is what it thought.)

My niece, Ashley Barnette is an active blogger, a wife, a mother, a college professor, and probably a bunch of other stuff that I don’t know about.  And this week she wrote an article entitled Do Your Eyes Light Up?  I really would like you to go and take a look at her original article.  It is very thought-provoking to me and it causes me to examine some of my actions and activities.  I won’t give you all of the details of the article because I want you to go and read it.  And while you are there, leave her a comment or a word of encouragement.  As writers, we often go for extended periods of time without getting any feedback on the pieces of our soul that we lay bare from time to time.

Her article asked the question, “Do your eyes light up when your child walks in the room?”  And that is a great question.  It speaks to us about our willingness to focus on them and the value that we place on our children.    But I was drawn to look at the equation from the other side.  Perhaps it is because my children are all grown and I don’t have that exact kind of relationship with them any longer since we are all adults.

Eyes Light Up -1My question would be do your children’s eyes light up when you come into the room?  I am blessed right now to have 2 of my grandchildren and our daughter living with us right now.  And I cannot begin to express the joy that I feel every day when I come home from work and walk in the door.  They come running to me squealing “Papa!” at the top of their little lungs.  And they leap into my arms as I stoop down to scoop them up.  And the look in their eyes . . . Well, to say that it is “bright” is an understatement.  It makes whatever went on that day seem so very insignificant.

And the eyes don’t lie.  

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Wanted: Full-Time Fathers

Wanted Full-Time Fathers - 1Early this week I was able to reflect on the impact of a Godly mother on children and on their development into adulthood and hopefully she is impacting them to become leaders who are molders of the culture and not simply being squeezed into the mold (culture) that society holds out for us.  That is a long sentence.  But it is necessary because it sets up my thoughts as we begin now to look toward Father’s Day in just a few weeks.

I have this picture in my mind of men who are out of work during the Great Depression who are holding signs saying “Job Wanted”.  Those must have been terrible times.  To want something so bad, to need something so bad, and yet not be able to get it must be damaging to the soul.

Wanted Full-Time Fathers - 2And that image makes me think of what must go on inside of the little heads of children who do not have a father.  Or maybe they have a biological father.  But he is not a real father.

I have too many thoughts inside my own head and some of them are so raw that I will not burden you with them today.  But we are approaching Father’s day.  And fathers are wanted.  Fathers are needed more than ever.  And they are as scarce as jobs during the Great Depression.

What are your children thinking when they see you?  Are they looking for a “full-time” father?  Are you content to be just a “part-time” one?

Photo credit: austinevan / Foter / (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: Don Hankins / Foter / (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales collection / Foter / No known copyright restrictions

Leadership Lessons from Finding Nemo

Entrance to WDWI am in Orlando, FL as I write this morning.  The kids are off at the playground and we are having a bit of a more calm day than the last few have been.  And I am looking for inspiration from our recent experiences.  And I found it at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the live performance of Finding Nemo.

Just like in the animated movie, the little fish named Nemo gets caught by some divers and is taken to live in a dentist’s aquarium. To Nemo, being stuck in the tank is pretty trivial compared to not ever seeing his father again. (This theme is just about right for Fatherhood Friday, wouldn’t you say?)

Nemo 1But little does Nemo know that his father is the kind of father who will go to any length to try and find his son so that he can bring him home again.  Up to this point his father has been timid and afraid to let his son go out into the world and experience life.  Tragedy has touched their family and it has scarred the father deeply.  But adversity has caused him to rise up and be willing to go through rough waters, sharks, jellyfish, and unknown territory to find his son.

So what is the point for Fatherhood Friday?

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Encouraging Leaders

Encouraging Leaders - 1The English language is tricky.  You can read the title of today’s article in two ways.  You can read it as an admonition that we should encourage our leaders.  And that would be a great admonition and a great article.

But my purpose today is to view it from the obverse perspective.  I want to admonish leaders that we should be “encouragers” to those around us.  And who doesn’t need a little encouragement?

Encouraging Leaders - 3One of the most important tasks of a leader is to encourage his followers.  Leaders often have to lead in the midst of difficult times and through tough circumstances.  These times and circumstances weigh heavily on our team.  And one of the things to which they will look to their leaders is encouragement.

Are you an encourager?  Do you build your team up?  Do you take pro-active steps to speak positive words to your team as they struggle with the tasks that you have given them?  Or are you demeaning and demanding?  When your team sees you approaching are they looking forward to what you are about to say?  Or do they feel a sense of dread and foreboding in your presence?

Encouraging Leaders - 2If I were to make a list of those who need encouragement from me, as a father, I need to look no farther than my own home. 

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Things They Never Tell You – Part One

Things they never tell you - 1 - 1“I wish someone would have told me about that!”

How many times have we said that as parents?  I know that I have said it about a bazillion times.  Or, I have said it at least “ten hundred million” times, which was the largest number that I could comprehend as a child.

Human nature assumes that someone out there knows all of the answers.  And if that person would just share that knowledge with us, then we would be able to navigate the difficulties and challenges that life throws our way.  So human nature insists that there is information that is out there, but it is not always shared with us.  That may or may not be true.  I am hoping that some will respond to this with some thoughts on whether or not they believe there is some great cosmic consciousness that contains all that there is to know.  (My personal belief is that the Bible contains all that is necessary to do whatever we need to do in life — including parenting.)

But the thrust of Fatherhood Friday today is that although there are tons of things that we think someone should have told us, we probably would not have believed them if they did.

For instance, I returned from an international business trip last night just before my grandchildren’s bedtime.  I left home last Saturday morning and I returned home late last evening.  I was gone nearly six full days.  I never really travelled on business very much when our children were little.  I was away overnight a few times.  But not many.  And I was surprised by just how much I missed them after only a few days away.  And I was really surprised by how much they seemed to miss me!

Things they never tell you - 1 - 2My point is this.  People told me how much I would miss my family when I was gone.  But, I didn’t really believe them.  I really love my children and yet I did not realize the intense connection that exists in some (not all unfortunately) between a father and their children.  I can remember very clearly my own father travelling when I was young.  And I know how much I missed him when he was gone.  But I never looked at it from his perspective.  

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Counting the Cost

Counting the Cost - 1As fathers, we are the “go-to” guys of the family.  There is a lot that is expected of us. We are given enormous responsibility and we are going to ultimately be accountable for the actions that we take as husbands and fathers.

How does that last sentence make you feel? Are you at peace with that statement? Or are you scared witless by the repercussions of it?

Counting the Cost - 2Fathers can be compared in some ways to a small town mayor or the owner of a small business. Think of the many roles that you are asked to fulfill. Have you counted the costs represented in each role?

You would probably not start a simple DIY project this week-end without sitting down and thinking about the steps needed to complete the project. You would roam around the garage and make sure you have the right tools and materials to complete it. You would plan a trip to the hardware store on your way home one night so that you can get a good start on Saturday morning. And you would do all of this just to replace the garbage disposer in the kitchen.

What if there were within each of us fathers a commitment to the same level of planning and preparation for the role of father? What if we planned to execute the role of father with integrity and maturity as though we were a project manager at work for the sake of our children?

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Lessons From A Jewish Father

Lessons from a Jewish Father - 1A little Jewish teaching today is what is in store for you today on Fatherhood Friday.

I was recently reminded of the commands given to fathers from the Talmud. What is the Talmud? Well, literally, the Hebrew word is translated as “Study”. The Talmud is the central text that comprises the ceremonial law and the oral teachings that were used as part of the education of every Jewish male. And it had much to say.

What words does it have for us today? I think we would do well to be reminded of what Jewish fathers were commanded to do regarding their male children. A father was commanded to do these three things:

  1. Circumcise his son. (I won’t be dealing with that particular one today, or probably any day in the foreseeable future.)
  2. Teach him the Law.
  3. Teach him a trade.

It is my intention today to remind us fathers that we have some important tasks. In fact, they are Biblical commands.

Lessons from a Jewish Father - 2Teach him the Law – And this has never been more necessary. Dads, it is your job to instill in your sons a sense of right and wrong. It is your job to teach them about justice and truth and eternal values. It is your job to model for them the fact that you lead an upright and circumspect life.

Along with the Law, I would also encourage you to teach them a sense of honor and respect for their mother and their sisters if they are fortunate enough to have them. This will give them a set pattern of respect for women that will serve him well and help ensure that your heart as a father is not broken later by the actions that your son takes as an adult.

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Leadership Lessons from Fatherhood

Leadership Lessons from Fatherhood - 1If you ask many leaders who the greatest influence on their life has been they will often tell you that it has been John Maxwell, Jack Welch, Tom Peters, Ronald Reagan, Gen. Patton, Atilla the Hun, or some other famous or infamous individual. And those are not bad or wrong answers.

If you ask me, I will tell you that it is my two children.

Leadership Lessons from Fatherhood - 2Fatherhood has been an educational journey that no institution of higher learning could provide. Its principles were not learned in a Harvard MBA program. These leadership lessons were learned at the dinner table every night. My children are both grown. And although they may think that I am offering them words of wisdom, I am in fact still enrolled in a life-long learning program and they are instruments of learning.

To be clear, I do not see myself as the great expert on fatherhood. I have made errors in judgment and I have made some erroneous decisions. But, I don’t think I have made too many selfish decisions. But when I did, I hope I was transparent with them and that I sought their forgiveness. And I hope that I was honest in my self-assessment, especially with the weaknesses and faults that I have.

I am clear about a few more things. For another, I have never seen such sacrificial and unconditional love flow from one human to another as I have seen flow from

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At Home – At Work – In the Mirror

At Work - At Home - In the Mirror - 2Let’s begin with one of my basic premises: There is unity of life.

What does that mean?

It means that you are one person, not two, and not three or four. You are the same man, both on the job with your colleagues and at home with your wife and your children. You may think that they are different. You may use pop-culture words like “persona” to indicate that you take on different personalities and different habits and behaviors. And, in fact, you may try to live and act differently in those two different arenas. But you cannot live two lives; underneath the mask you are the same person in both spheres of responsible operation. And to argue against my basic premise is to further fortify it prove that it is true. At Work - At Home - In the Mirror - 1

Men who are weak and ineffective as husbands tend to be the same as fathers by trying to split their lives between work and family. In other words, they live as producers at work but become consumers the moment they walk through the front door of the home. On the job they dedicate their powers to serious, responsible activity; but at home they are

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Convenient vs. Covenant Leadership

I know that today is Fatherhood Friday.  But, I was discussing leadership topics with fellow author / leader, Wayne Butler the other day and I was a little aggravated with the state of leadership among husbands and fathers.  Unfortunately, the lack of leadership is just too easy to identify today wherever you look.

Convenient vs Covenant - 1One of the descriptions for leaders that I observe today is that they are being convenient leaders.  So, what does that mean?

I think it means that they see some positive aspects of being a leader.  And that is a positive thing I believe.  However, they do not seem to grasp that leadership is inherently a difficult thing and that at many points in the process it is not fun.  So, while the task of leadership remains easy or fun for them, they remain engaged.  And when it gets too hard for them, they retreat from the challenge and shrink from their responsibility.  This is what I call a Convenient Leader.

Convenient vs Covenant - 2One of the descriptions for leaders that many of us are trying to encourage and promote is that of a covenant leader.  So, what does that mean?

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