Author: Reggie Joiner

Side by Side

In Inside Out Families, Diana Garland reports on her study of what makes the most impact in a student’s spiritual life. She concludes after extensive survey and research, “Community service was significantly more closely related to the faith development of teens than attending worship services. Service appears to be more powerful than Sunday school, Bible study, or participation in worship in the faith development of teenagers.”[i] She goes on to document that when teens serve alongside adults, the experience broadens their faith and redefines their understanding of church. We recently asked a group of seasoned leaders from around the country this question about spiritual development, “If you had six ninth-grade boys or girls for four years, what would you do to encourage their spiritual development?” They each talked about different work projects and mission endeavors. Some mentioned the amount of time they would devote to building the relationship. Toward the end of the conversation, we realized that no one had brought up taking them to any kind of classroom presentation. Although these leaders guide churches with a large array of programs, not one suggested just putting teens into classes or trying to simply get them to attend church. Instinctively, many leaders recognize something more relational and experiential required for spiritual formation. The goal is not to cover a body of information, but to engage young people in a process...

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Lessons in Haiti

Sarah, my daughter, took this picture. We just got back from Haiti last week. We were there with a group of college interns who were rebuilding a widow’s home and working in an orphanage. Watching teenagers and college students get involved with the hurting and devastated people in Haiti reminded me of a principle we talk about in Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. As parents we need to give our children opportunities to become involved with the problems and pain of others. Affluence has a way of turning us inward and fueling our selfishness. Serving others does just the opposite. It helps us remember that we are not the center of the universe. When we care for other people it fuels a perspective that every created human being has intrinsic value. Our sense of value is linked to how we value those around us.  The best way to make your children feel significant is not by telling them they are significant, but by giving them something significant to do. Start as soon as you can inviting your children to care for other people. If you want your children to be transformed into kind and compassionate adults, give them plenty of opportunities to help others carry their load. We needed to be in Haiti last week, not because they needed us, but because we needed them. We needed to learn from...

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Airplane Mode

I always feel a little panicked when I hear the announcement from the airline attendant, “Please turn off all personal electronic devices, anything that has an on and off switch.” For the next few minutes I have to be creative with my time, so I have learned to love reading magazines. I wonder if sometimes our personal electronics can actual distract us from more meaningful experiences. This past week, I met with a well-known leader who makes a similar announcement every week in his home. He declares his home a no-personal-electronics zone. When he first announced the idea to his family, there was a threat of mutiny from his kids. The idea seems a little radical. From the time his kids get home until the work day starts the next day, phones, internet, TV, video games are all off. He claims that after a few weeks of withdrawals and the shakes, his family actually began to connect at a different level. So how did they use their extra time together? They had intense bible study! No, just kidding. They actually spent a lot of time playing board games. Here’s an interesting idea. What if you got serious about having fun together as a family?  I’m not suggesting that you block satellites for the entire week, but what if you just start with a day or two? Here’s a simple...

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Imperfect Parents

Do you remember the first time you realized your parents weren’t perfect? I don’t. It was just a gradual realization for me. But I do remember the first time I realized one of my children didn’t think I was perfect anymore. It’s not that I ever believed I could keep up the “Dad knows everything and can never do anything wrong” image forever. I was just hoping to maintain some form of hero status for as long as possible. As a young parent I embraced the idea that the most tangible expression of a child’s heavenly Father is their parent. I still agree with that statement to a great degree, but I could also give you a list of reasons why that idea makes me nervous. As my kids grew older I became increasingly aware of why it was important for them to shift their allegiance and faith away from me and to their heavenly Father as soon as possible. On the one hand, I knew intuitively that I affected their impressions of God. On the other, I guess I didn’t want God to get blamed for my quirks and dysfunction. I remember trying to explain my role as a dad to my youngest daughter one day when she was in the 5th grade. I think I said something like, “You know as a dad I am supposed to show you...

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Cows with a View

I passed by these cows this week. I was taking a couple of days off while in California to speak to leaders. The herd sits off the famous Hwy 1 that runs along the West Coast overlooking cliffs on the majestic Pacific. They have a perspective of life that most cows just never get. The grass they are eating is worth millions to the right developer. But it’s their grass. If they would just stop what they are doing and look at the bigger ocean, they would find out the grass is greener than they ever imagined. I know they are just cows, but they get to see everyday what people fly from all of the world to catch a glimpse of for a just a few moments. I suspect that their routine has affected their view more than they realize. They have seen it so much, and repeat the same patterns so frequently, the beauty seems to go unnoticed by them. Okay, I’m not really talking about cows, but I am talking about my problem. I think I’m identifying with the parent who is scheduled, hectic, and trying to keep up with their daily routine. Instead of working on how to become more efficient, maybe just stop and take a look at the view. See how green the grass really is and soak up some of the scenery....

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