Mar 21, 2011

a really, really good Story

I had a great breakfast this morning with one of my sons. We went to Eli's Kitchen for breakfast - one of our favorite places to get some dad/son time in. They serve a cheap, greasy omelet and a heck of a piece of toast - but we didn't go there for the hometown food. It's "our place" to key into the choices he has in front of him and the consequences of each.

We spent some time talking about the power of those decisions... and how life is about more than decisions. It's primarily about the core thing you live in, for that alone will determine not only what happens next but how you relate to God in the midst of it.
  • Some conclude He doesn't exist and turn their backs on Him. 
  • Others believe that you should "believe," and that's good enough. 
  • Many hold to the idea that you have to outweigh your bad decisions with good decisions, or else God won't let you into heaven
  • Then there is the epic journey concept - that we are taking part in His Story and by His grace get to interact with Him in ways that make us grow and add to what He's up to.

I shared this morning that I will love him no matter what path he chooses. Likewise, I gave him some direction on how each has its easy and tough points. Using a model I've come to appreciate from my friend Chris Folmsbee via Barefoot Ministries, we spoke about how what we start with determines the rest.

Simply put:
  • If your core priority is behavior, you will be more concerned with what you (and others) do than who you (and others) are becoming.
    • The appeal? It's easy to change your behavior and feel like you've accomplished something.
  • If your core priority is your way of life, you will be more concerned with maintaining a standard of living (including how it appears to others, such as your finances, relational or spiritual life) than in making sacrificial changes that leads you to someplace more authentic.
    • The appeal? By keeping your life looking a certain way, you will continue to feel you've conquered your past or are "winning" against your peers.
  • If your core priority is your identity, then whatever you think you are will forever determine how you view anything else - such as "Well, I was born with this temperament/orientation/etc and have no choice but to give into it." 
    • The appeal? We live in a culture that makes its arguments by promoting diversity versus clarity.
  • If your core priority is your theology, you will become insecure when it is in question and angry at others who don't hold to it as you do.
    • The appeal? You can find a number of truths that will help you feel like you are as mature as their significance merely because you believe them.
  • If your core priority is God and His Story, you will become less able to be the star of your life and will be forced to put larger things into a better perspective.
    • The appeal?  We all know deep down that we are not actually the one who makes the final determination of things in this world, and joining into a relationship with God allows us to become the pen and Him to become the writer.
Again, whichever one you start with will inform the others... so if you are opting for something on the surface level, your roots won't truly be as deep as you think they are. However, if you start with the deepest place possible - your relationship with your Creator - then life isn't about what you can or can't do, but about your willingness to join into something bigger than you that happens to include you.

Somehow I managed to share this at a level my son could understand. So much so, in fact, that I watched a huge weight get lifted off his shoulders this morning. He even was eyeballing the small camouflage Bible that I carried, and I gave it to him.

When he walked in the door from school today, one of the first things he said was, "Dad, thanks for making time this morning to talk with me. It really helped me figure some things out, and I really feel a lot closer to God now because of it."

I know some parents believe we're not supposed to expose our kids to any options about faith, or wait until they bring it up. Unfortunately, silence creates beliefs, too - such as "That's really not important." Apathy isn't as sophisticated as it sounds.

I have to say there is something powerful about simply taking the time to create space for dialogue that wouldn't have happened otherwise. That after-school comment is worth the price of the greasy omelet I've since regretted scarfing down. He even commented an interest and a start in reading the Bible on his own.

This may simply be a good story. Then again, if it is it's only because of a really, really good Story.
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

1 comment:

The Momma said...

Excellent stuff Tony! Thanks once again for giving me an example on how to lead/teach my kids.