Unanswered Prayers?

Ask Finnian Question Compendium

Unanswered Prayers?

September 9, 2016 | Finnian Jones

Hi Finnian!

One of my favorite quotes of yours is, "The greatest battles are won when we’re on our knees."

It’s obvious that prayer is a very important aspect of a Christian’s life. But what do you do when it seems like God doesn’t answer your prayers? Ever since my baby sister passed away almost 2 years ago, I’ve been praying for another sibling. I mean, I appreciate and am thankful for the two siblings I have, but I’ve always wanted another sibling so badly. And I’m afraid to think that God’s answer is no! Doesn’t the Lord want to bless us with children? I have really been struggling with this, especially when a lot of the families around us started having babies after my baby sister passed away. I know that God is trying to teach me something, but I don’t know what. Is there any advice you could give me?

My dear friend,

Hmm… you say that you have lost a sister? I wonder what she is doing right now? I simply can’t wait to meet her! However, I realize that for you, waiting for that day to come can be quite difficult.

In the meantime, did you know that God promises that “All things work together for good to those who love God?” Wait! Stop the presses and halt the horses!… is this possible when someone so close to us dies? I can remember when my dad died… oh, that was a terrible time for me… I lost my best friend in the whole world… but I trusted the Lord during that time and believed that he knew what was best. I gave my dad up into the Lord’s care while he was in the hospital. Then suddenly my dad started to make a miraculous recovery. The doctors said that dad was being talked about throughout the hospital as the man of the decade, rising from the dead so to speak! Then just one week before he was going to be released from the hospital, just one week I tell you, a nurse accidentally gave my dad a wrong treatment that took his life within minutes. It was an awful time for our family. Why would God raise him up just to take him away? Why the miracle and then the loss? I don’t have an answer to this but what I do know is that God is good! In him there is no darkness at all. God is also love! He loves me so much that he would never do anything that wasn’t for my ultimate good. Do I understand this? Absolutely not! In fact, I constantly talk to my dad as if he were here even though I know he can’t hear me. Oh how I wish he were here to help me. He was so amazing in so many ways. It’s during times like this that I remember what Peter’s mother says in The Crew of the Dolphin. Even when she thought that her two sons had perished in the sea, that godly woman was able to declare that "God is good. He is very good, though my two sons are lost, and I go away quite old, and solitary, and poor. If He does not love me, who shall be good to me? I have not one other friend. No, no. I have called Him always my good God, and He must be my good God still. He will love you and me" (120).

And it’s alright to question God. It’s alright even to cry out to him and lament. That is what David did in so many of the songs he wrote… he cried out to God… look especially at Psalms 34, 37, and 119. David wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I keep thy Word!” He also wrote, “It is good that I have been afflicted that I might know thy Word.” God uses loss and tragedy for reasons beyond what we can understand but one thing is certain, he does it for our good, for all things work together for good! In Romans 4 we read that Abraham was fully convinced that God would keep his promises. God has not promised that your family would have another child, but he has promised that he will never leave you nor forsake you. He has promised that all things work together for good. He has promised that nothing can separate you from his love. He has promised that nothing is impossible and he has promised that he can do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or think! (Deuteronomy 31:6, Romans 8:28, Romans 8:38, Matthew 19:26, and Ephesians 3:20). So my friend, remember that God hears our prayer and is compassionate to our cry… Jeremiah wrote that God’s compassions are new every morning.

Lastly, and perhaps this is actually more firstly, I would love for you to see that maybe… just maybe… God has allowed you to experience this loss so that you may be able to help someone else who needs your love and compassion. That’s how this works… you receive compassion from God and help by his grace, then you in turn give what you have received. The Apostle Paul talks about this in his second letter to the Corinthians where he writes that God “comforts us in all our afflictions so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

I hope that this letter has provided you with some comfort, conviction, and encouragement. Hold fast to God’s promises, and let me know how you experience his sustaining presence during this time. Until I hear from you next, I will always remain

Still His, still yours,

Finnian Jones

Taken from here

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Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

On the 15th Anniversary of September 11, 2001: Life, Death, and the Search for God

Posted by Ravi Zacharias on September 11, 2016
Topic: Blog

As some would continue to perpetrate the myth of progress, we live on this fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 under the cloud of a world dramatically changed since that terrible day. Anyone who travels sees and feels what a murderous ideology has done to our world. May we never forget what happened and ever be in pursuit of wisdom and courage to deal with those whose philosophy thrives on hate. Our prayers are with the families that lost a loved one and with gratitude for those who came to the rescue. Civilization is always threatened by ideologues who embrace the moment and lose sight of the essential value of every human life. Answers will only be found in embracing the God of love and living by his precepts. Loving God and our fellow human beings are the two laws on which all other laws stand. May God guide our leaders. The Scriptures call us to understand the times and know what to do (see 1 Chronicles 12:32). May we be faithful.

September 11, 2001: Was God Present or Absent?

Every thinking person has at some time raised the question, “Where is God in the midst of suffering?” That question without doubt echoed in millions of minds on September 11, 2001, and continues to do so, fifteen years later. If illustration were argument, an event such as this would give fodder to both sides of the issue—to those who want to establish the complete absence of God and to those who testify that He exists and is involved in the circumstances of our lives. To a watching world, the finest testimonials to the faith of the nation were the crowded churches the following Sunday and the extraordinary national memorial service.

Stepping back from the scene, two starkly different stories from September 11 represent the struggle of the search for God. One story was told by the men of Ladder 6, a company of the New York City Fire Department. Seven firemen were helping a sixty-nine-year-old woman by the name of Josephine down from the 73rd floor of one of the World Trade Center towers. These brave men, already laboring under 110 pounds of equipment on their backs, led Josephine step by step down the staircase. At times, she was ready to give up, but they helped, encouraged, inspired, and assured her she would make it. “They were like angels to me,” she said. She would stop to catch her breath and they would stop with her. She started to shiver with fear and one gave her his jacket. One floor at a time they got her down until, finally, she could walk no more and just sat down on one of the steps of the fourth floor.

They waited with her, coaxing her to stand up and resume walking because they were almost to the ground floor. But she could not move, and they refused to leave her. Suddenly, they heard and felt the floors beneath them give way under the tremendous weight of the collapsing building, and they were hurtled down with terrific force and enveloped in a suffocating cloud of pitch-black smoke. One of them even prayed, “God, if this is it, please let it be quick.”

But as the noise lessened and the smoke began to clear, they found that they had settled over the rubble of the caved-in floors below them. Miraculously, Josephine had refused to go any further at the one point that remained intact as the building fell. All seven firemen plus Josephine were eventually brought into the daylight of safety.

“Had we continued descending when we were pleading with her to keep moving,” they said, “we would have been killed by the crush of the floors above us.” One of them added, “Josephine was like an angel sent from God to stop us so that we could be safe.”

How can we react to a story such as this but to concede that those who were rescued in this way saw the hand of God leading, guiding, and stopping their steps? Yet, not every story ended like Josephine’s. The hearts of thousands of others who lost loved ones may well throb with a different emotion. I think of one young woman who, through weeks of struggle, torn by indecision at the marriage proposal of a young man, finally made her choice during the night. In the pre-dawn hours of the 11th she phoned his office at the World Trade Center from her home in California. Her message awaited him when he arrived at work, with words of love and the welcome news that she would marry him. But at midmorning when she retrieved her own messages, her world was unforgettably changed. The voice she heard was not the voice of a man exultant at the news of her acceptance. Instead, she listened to the terror in his voice as he told her that he loved her with all his heart, but his building had been struck by an airplane and was beginning to crumble before his eyes. No angels dragged him to safety.

Was God near or far? Any time a catastrophic event happens, numerous human-interest stories give God glory, while others give Him blame.

The Problem Is Greater Than We Think

Theologians have an interesting description for this predicament. They call it “the hiddenness of God,” or “divine hiding.” Why does not God make his presence more obvious? Many arguments are offered for why God “hides” in a world that seeks to see Him. The answer is ultimately found in the divine purposes of God. It is not that God has absconded or is absent; it is that there is a divine purpose behind his visibility or invisibility. If one can rightly read the clues, the mystery is opened up in profound ways. Just as evil can be understood only in the light of the ultimate purpose, so also must God’s presence or seeming absence be judged on the basis of his purpose.

Numerous times in the Scriptures, signs were asked from God, and they were given. But in spite of that, trust in God was not automatic. Probably no disciple received more displays of God’s power than the apostle Peter. He was one of only three who witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus had taken his disciples to the top of a mountain where they saw a sight not given to any other human eye. They saw Jesus’s body begin to glow with a whiteness that was almost blinding. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and began to talk with Jesus. Peter asked Jesus if he could build shelters there for the three luminaries, but a voice thundered from the heavens saying, “This is my Son. Listen to Him” (see Luke 9:35). This experience had everything—Sight! Sound! Words! Power! Peter was so overcome that he did not want to go down from the mountain. But Jesus told them it was time to return to the humdrum world of their day-to-day existence.

But there is more. Jesus was trying to help his disciples to understand the frailty He saw in them—their chronic bent to be enchanted every moment. Peter saw the proof of Jesus’s divinity in his transfiguration. He did not doubt after that who Jesus was. Yet, when Jesus was arrested, Peter floundered and even denied that he ever knew Jesus. He was in momentary awe of the miraculous but could not trust God for the future. This failing was also common in Israel’s exodus from Egypt. The people would witness a miracle and follow God with national repentance. But as soon as God seemed to hide for some time, the grumbling and skepticism began. Peter was in momentary awe of the miraculous but could not trust God for the future.

The examples of Israel and of Peter are repeated endlessly in our own experiences. We have a limitless ability to trust God only when it suits our purpose. Rather than allowing God to be God and serving Him for who He is, we actually try to play God and He becomes our subject, expected to do our bidding at our every whim. I do not know of any greater fickleness in the human heart than this. We lie to ourselves after a miraculous event, believing it will have staying power. But the moment another steep hill appears before us, we wonder whether the miracle we witnessed some time back actually happened or was only a delusion. Reality is threatened by this fickleness, and if we do not understand and accept this, we live in an illusionary world of chronic skepticism. Our demand for more information is, in a real sense, a fight against our finitude.

The Solution Must Go Deeper Than We Seek

A subtle delusion keeps us from the real battle. The truth behind our clamor for explanation is that we assume ourselves to be only intellectual entities and thus, if only our intellect can be satisfied, we will be content. One of the most powerful encounters in the Bible is between Jesus and a learned man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus recognized the supernatural character of Jesus and said to Him, “Teacher, no one could do the miracles you are doing unless God is with him” (see John 3:2). That tacit endorsement could have easily elicited a commendation from Jesus. Instead, Jesus challenged Nicodemus that if he wanted to be part of God’s kingdom, he needed to have a new birth. This was not the direction Nicodemus had planned on going, but Jesus knew exactly what He was about. He was telling Nicodemus that it is not the miracle over matter that ultimately has staying power; it is the miracle over the way we think about reality that has eternal ramifications. We are not all intellect, and therefore some need beyond the intellect needs to be met.

But there is a second point I wish to make. We look for God to be something concrete, something we can see or handle or fully explain. This is a fallacy born out of our addiction to the external, and human history has repeatedly challenged that disposition. There are many evidences of God’s miracle-working presence. Incredible stories abound for which there is often no natural interpretation that satisfactorily explains them.

The supernatural is possible. It happens, but it does not lead to the greatest miracle in a life. For you see, anyone can take a miraculous story and explain it a dozen different ways. At best it just proves that there is a power beyond our own. So where does that leave us? What God seeks in every individual is not just companionship based on his intervention, but communion with Him based on his indwelling. That is what makes the difference when a building is collapsing. It is not whether a hand grabs your hand and rescues you from the carnage; it is that no matter what happens, his strength empowers you to rise beyond the devastation.

If humanity was only mind or intellect, evidence from the physical world would be all that mattered. But there is a depth to our being; a spiritual essence that goes deeper than our intellect. We are spiritual beings and God responds to us in spirit. That essence hungers for intimacy.

I would not at all be surprised to learn someday, when the words and thoughts of those who died in the devastation of September 11th are revealed in God’s presence, that many, many of them knew a profound sense of his presence, even when they knew life in its earthly sojourn was coming to an end.

There is at least one profound lesson that I draw from these life and death stories, and it is this: There is an appointed time for each of us when life will meet its end.

Peter Marshall, former chaplain to the United States Senate, told a story, called “Rendezvous in Samara,” of a man who worked as the servant of a wealthy merchant. He had gone into town to shop for the day when suddenly he felt someone brush heavily against his shoulder. Somewhat offended, he turned toward the person who had jostled him and found himself staring into a pair of eyes that spoke death to him. Panicking, he dropped everything and ran home. His master saw him running breathlessly toward the house, and met him on the front steps. “What on earth is the matter?” asked the master. “Oh, sir! Someone in the marketplace rudely brushed me, and when I turned to face him, he looked like the Angel of Death to me. He, too, had a look of shock on his face. It was almost as if he wanted to grab me but then backed away. I am afraid, sir. I don’t want to go back to the market.”

“Saddle one of our horses and ride all day ‘til you reach the distant village of Samara,” the master said. “Stay there ‘til you get word from me that it is safe for you to return.”

The servant rode off, and the master made his way to the market to find the person who had so frightened his servant. As he wound his way through the crowded streets, he suddenly came face to face with this strange looking individual. “Who are you?” the master said. “Are you the one who just scared my servant?” “Yes, indeed.” “Why did you frighten him?”

“Well, I was truly surprised to see him here. I am the Angel of Death, and I chose to spend the day here before heading to my stop for tonight. You see, it was not so much that I surprised him, as that he surprised me. I did not expect to see him here because I have an appointment with him in Samara tonight.”

We can flee the marketplace, only to find that the quiet village of Samara is where our rendezvous was to be. But, thanks be to God, He seeks to remind us that Samara is not the end, for He has designed us with a hunger for eternal companionship and in communion with Him alone is that hunger fulfilled. That beautiful song “The Lost Chord” ends with the lines: “It may be that only in Heav’n I shall hear the grand Amen.”

[Ed. Note: For the full article, originally published in Just Thinking: The Quarterly Magazine of RZIMplease click here.]

Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

15 ways to remember 9/11 this week

15 ways to remember 9/11 this week

Next Sunday, September 11, marks the 15-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 that crashed in western Pennsylvania.

Recalling the devastation wrought on that day is filled with pain for many. Yet we must remember the past, or we deprive ourselves of its lessons for overcoming our present struggles and divisions.

Here are 15 ways that all of us can take action and find common ground by memorializing the events of September 11, 2001:

  1. FLY your flag at half-mast for the 2,996 innocent human beings and 11 unborn babies who lost their lives, as well as the service members who died or were wounded in Operation Enduring Freedom.
  2. TAP into the love of country that flows through your veins. Give blood to the Red Cross to show solidarity with the more than 6,000 injured on that day.
  3. ATTEND and participate in community events to observe the six moments of silence for each key event of the attacks.
  4. SHARE your memories of the attacks with loved ones and friends.
  5. POST an appropriate picture or remembrance on social media or your company’s website to show your solidarity with the many innocent victims.
  6. PARTICIPATE in a local 9/11 Stair Climb to show gratitude and understanding for the grueling conditions our first responders perform under in the line of duty.
  7. VISIT a local 9/11 memorial in your area, or one of the year-round memorials in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  8. VOLUNTEER through one of the many non-profit organizations dedicated to preserving September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.
  9. DONATE to a charity that supports the families of 9/11 victims, museums, and other beneficial programs.
  10. TALK with your children about what happened. There is a wealth of information available. Try these resources if you’re struggling to start the conversation or answer their questions.
  11. REMEMBER the brave first responders, military and civilians who selflessly gave their lives to save others. For example, Father Mychal Judge served as a chaplain to the New York City Fire Department. He rushed to the World Trade Center after the first plane struck, and was killed by debris when the South Tower collapsed.
  12. THANK a member of the Coast Guard. The greatest boat lift in American history occurred on 9/11 and it is a story of heroism worth revisiting.
  13. PONDER this question before each of us: Are we living our freedoms individually and collectively as we ought to be?
  14. RESOLVE to be a better citizen and contributing member to the common good of our country. Each of us has his or her own part to play, and a duty to perform to preserve our national unity.
  15. REFLECT on the following remarks of President Abraham Lincoln, from a speech given on September 11, 1858: “What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army . . . Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.”

Full article here

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Work: An Eternal Perspective

Work: An Eternal Perspective
By Mark Hamby

“But Dad, I tended the sheep all of last week! Can’t one of my older brothers do it this time? Why do I always get stuck with the dirty jobs? You want me to take this cheese and bread to my brothers? That’s a long drive on a mule—can’t one of our servants do it? I’ve fed them every day for the past three weeks, and I can’t stand listening to that nasty Philistine!”

As a boy, King David gained important skills and character while carrying out menial tasks. Because he submitted to authority, used his time wisely, and practiced diligently, he became an accurate marksman, a skillful musician, an eloquent writer, and a courageous protector. His submission and preparation led him to be at the right place at the right time so that he could be used by God to deliver a nation.

Children will generally use their time wisely if parents arrange meaningful experiences and provide worthwhile resources for them. But allowing them to indulge in the latest video game or trinket suppresses their creativity and stunts their potential to excel in their God-given gifting. In Ecclesiastes the Preacher says, “Whatever thy hand finds to do, do it with all thy might."

So how do we teach our children to make the most of their time here and now? The key is to cultivate a heaven-focused mindset by filling their imagination with thoughts of God’s character, power, promises, and partnership. We need to emphasize the largeness of eternity and the exigency (urgency) of our earthly battle.

C.S. Lewis notes: “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were those who thought most of the next. The apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

“Every day you are becoming who you will be forever.”
(John Luhmann)

Taken from Mark Hambys newsletter

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The Power of a Positive Team

The Power of a Positive Team

(image borrowed from here)

Many think that you have to choose between positivity and winning. But the truth is you don’t have to choose. Positivity leads to winning.

Michael Phelps was recently interviewed by Bob Costas where he described his approach to building a positive team before the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"Every now and then you hear a bunch of negative comments or someone complaining and during training camp at one of the meetings I said to the guys that we are getting ready to go to the Olympics, this is what we have to do and if there is a negative comment keep it to yourself. The more positivity we have as a team the better off we are going to be As soon as I said that we all became closer and then we really started getting going."

When I heard Michael say these words I was thrilled because he shared a truth with the world that I have witnessed countless times throughout the years. A team with talent can be good. But they must come together to be great. Positivity is the glue that enhances team connection and performance and it impacts office teams, school teams, church teams, and hospital teams as much as it does Olympic teams.

I’ve seen very positive teams with average talent accomplish more than anyone thought possible.

I’ve also seen negative teams with a lot of talent accomplish far less than everyone thought was possible.

Positive teams work together more effectively. They stay positive, connected and committed through challenges. They maximize each other’s talent. They believe together and achieve more together.

Positive, high performing teams don’t happen by accident. They are built by leaders and team members who reduce the negative and add a big dose of positive. When you subtract negativity and add positivity to your talent, the sky is the limit.

The great news is that you don’t have to be an Olympic champion with 28 medals to begin the process. You can be just like you and me. You can say enough with the negativity. Let’s get positive. Let’s get going.

– Jon Gordon (email)

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Comfort for Christian Parents of Unconverted Children

Comfort for Christian Parents of Unconverted Children

by Jim Elliff

All Christian parents wish that God would show us something to do to secure our child’s salvation, and then “we’ll do it with all our might” because we love our child so much. Yet, God has not made salvation the effect of somebody else’s faith; our son or daughter must come to Christ on his or her own. John shows us that all Christians are born into God’s family “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, [that is, somebody
else’s will] but of God.” (John 1:13)

Although salvation is the work of God and not something that we can do for our child, there is hope. Consider the following:

1. A true burden in prayer for your child is a gift from God. A persistent burden may indicate that God intends to give your child eternal life because authentic prayer always begins with God. Though we cannot be absolutely certain that we know all that God is doing, we should be optimistic if the burden continues.

2. The miracle of the new birth is no less possible for God if our child is attentive to Him or running away from Him. Our child is like all other children when it comes to God’s grace. He is dead spiritually whether he is in church or not, whether he listened well to the truths we tried to teach him or did not, whether he has some interest in God now or has none at all. He may be converted in the pig pen or the pew and we do not know in this case what is preferred by God.

3. God does hear our prayers. Though God has taught us that He chooses all who are His before the foundation of the world, He also taught us that we should pray, and not only pray, but expect the answer to our prayers. It is true that God is sovereign and it is just as true that He answers prayer. In fact, He could not answer prayer if He were not in control of all things.

4. We may have hope because of God’s election of those who will come to Him. Every child is on his way to hell unless God stops him. God’s election is our friend. We would have no hope for our child’s salvation without it, because no child would turn to Christ if left in his or her depravity (Romans 3:9-11). But given God’s election of people for Himself, we can be encouraged.

5. Your child has some clear knowledge of what it means to be a true Christian. The Spirit certainly may bring this to bear at any time if this is His chosen method. Though it is no less a miracle for a knowledgeable child to be converted than a child with little knowledge; God always uses the gospel seed in every conversion.

6. Your own disobedience in the past will not ultimately keep your child from becoming a believer. It is pointless to berate yourself for any wrong behavior on your part as if it were the reason your child is without Christ. This doesn’t mean that we as parents should not repent and do better, and even admit wrong to our children. But the reason your child is without Christ is ultimately related to his or her own sin. Every Christian parent is inconsistent in some way and is in a process of sanctification that leaves the parent short of perfection. This has never been a barrier to God if He desires to save your child. Illustrations abound of children who come from far less godly families who are nonetheless converted to Christ. In fact, this may have been the case in your own experience.

7. Some children may need the experience of being away from parental care in order to face up to their own need for Christ. The sense of need for many may be discovered only in the context of difficulties. We should not be surprised if it takes some solo flying before a child learns that he or she really needs another as his pilot.

8. Remember that there are lots of people who have come to appreciate their history prior to coming to Christ. I’m not saying that these people would not have wanted conversion earlier, but that the pain of the their pre-conversion history has left them with compassion, understanding, knowledge, testimony, and a burden that they would perhaps not have had any other way. They’ve seen God’s wisdom in the timing of their conversion. This may well be so with your child. Paul said that there was a reason he was chosen to be converted even though he was a murderer, blasphemer and violent aggressor—so that people will see and have hope that God can save anyone. God has a unique journey for each child.

9. You cannot save your child yourself no matter how hard you try. You are in a position of trust alone. This is good because it is the only way to please God (Heb. 11:6). Your rest in God, while simultaneously praying to the God who answers prayer, will be an encouragement to others in the same situation. It will also help you respond to your child more positively, and will make your life far more joyful than your anxiety ever could.

10. Finally, remember that God has a purpose in all He does. We will one day rejoice that God has done a perfect job of ruling His universe. When we acknowledge this and put God even above our children, we will actually demonstrate to our child the way a Christian is to live.

Revised 2014

Copyright © 2003 Jim Elliff
Christian Communicators Worldwide, Inc.
Permission granted for not-for-sale reproduction in unedited form
including author’s name, title, complete content, copyright and weblink.
Other uses require written permission.

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Assigning Chores; Civic Responsibility

A major US newspaper recently ran a piece detailing all the ways children benefit from doing chores. Well, not all the ways. They failed to mention the most important benefit: chores, properly managed, teach citizenship values. “Properly managed” means children are not compensated monetarily for doing chores.

Democracies cannot survive when citizens have no need to perform uncompensated service, as in when big government provides everything. Since we are still a democracy, however tenuously, it is vital that children be taught proper citizenship values. And as your great-grandmother probably said, “Good citizenship begins at home.” During his 1961 Inaugural Address, President Kennedy succinctly defined proper American citizenship: “Ask not what this country can do for you; ask what you can do for this country.” The strength of a democracy depends on service. Likewise, the strength of a family is greatly enhanced when everyone pitches in to do what needs to be done to maintain a clean, comfortable, organized environment.

My experience with my kids, who were doing all the housework at ages 10 and 6, is that chores are a source of legitimate pride. They also prevent the development of a generally ungrateful (i.e. entitled) attitude. Contribution also assists children in “bonding” to the values of the family. Fundamentally, it teaches what “family” really means.

The ideal time to begin assigning chores to a child is shortly after the third birthday. If you’ve ever lived with a 3-year-old, then you know threes want to help when their parents are doing housework. Capitalize on that! Give the young child his or her own chores to do. Responsibilities define roles, so provide your child with a functional role in your family.

-John Rosemond (taken from the John Rosemond Facebook page)


Leadership consists of

nothing but

taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong

and giving your subordinates credit

for everything that goes well.

Dwight D. Eisenhower,
34th US president

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The Benefits of Positivity and Cost of Negativity

The Benefits of Positivity

and Cost of Negativity

11 Benefits of Being Positive:

1. Positive people live longer. In a study of nuns, those that regularly expressed positive emotions lived an average of 10 years longer than those who didn’t (Snowdon, 2001).

2. Positive work environments outperform negative work environments (Goleman, 2011).

3. Positive, optimistic salespeople sell more than pessimistic salespeople (Seligman, 2006).

4. Positive leaders are able to make better decisions under pressure (Institute of HeartMath, 2012).

5. Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions, whereas when the ratio approaches 1-to-1, marriages are more likely to end in divorce (Gottman, 1999).

6. Positive people who regularly express positive emotions are more resilient when facing stress, challenges, and adversity.”

7. Positive people are able to maintain a broader perspective and see the big picture, which helps them identify solutions, whereas negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems (Fredrickson, 2009).

8. Positive thoughts and emotions counter the negative effects of stress. For example, you can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time.

9. Positive emotions such as gratitude and appreciation help athletes perform at a higher level (Institute of HeartMath, 2012).

10. Positive people have more friends, which is a key factor of happiness and longevity (Putnam, 2000).

11. Positive and popular leaders are more likely to garner the support of others and receive pay raises and promotions and achieve greater success in the workplace.

The Cost of Negativity:

1. Ninety percent of doctor visits are stress related, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. A study found that negative employees can scare off every customer they speak with—for good (Rath, 2004).

3. At work, too many negative interactions compared to positive interactions can decrease the productivity of a team, according to Barbara Fredrickson’s research at the University of Michigan.

4. Negativity affects the morale, performance, and productivity of our teams.

5. One negative person can create a miserable office environment for everyone else.

6. Robert Cross’s research at the University of Virginia demonstrates that 90 percent of anxiety at work is created by 5 percent of one’s network—the people who sap energy.

7. Negative emotions are associated with decreased life span and longevity.

8. Negative emotions increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

9. Negativity is associated with greater stress, less energy, and more pain.

10. Negative people have fewer friends.

Excerpt From The Positive Dog

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A question of character

A question of character


Who would you rather have in your life — a person who lies and cheats or a person who is gracious and supportive?

If both of these people said, “I’ve got some feedback for you,” it is very likely that the lying person would provide insights from their self-serving perspective while the kind person would provide insights from a “service to you” perspective.

What would cause a person to lie and cheat, or to be gracious and supportive, or to be somewhere in between? I believe the core driver of such behaviors is character.

Human character can be defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” One’s character can be beneficial to self, to others, or some combination of both (which is an unusual pattern, but it happens).

Since humans don’t walk around with a billboard that proclaims our mental and moral qualities, people around us are left to interpret our character based on our plans, decisions and actions — how we treat others, who (or what) we are serving, and the like.

Our actions with strangers might consistently reflect our character. I might open doors for others or give a lady the cab I just hailed, choosing to wait for the next cab down the street. Or, I might open the door for myself, closing it right behind me, not noticing others following. I might grab that cab and pull the door closed, ignoring others that might also need a lift.

Our actions with those we interact with regularly — work colleagues, family, and friends — certainly provide evidence of how much our character leans toward serving self or serving others.

If, at work, I am mean, dismissive, call people names and find fault with others more than I find value, it’s unlikely that colleagues would describe me as having a servant character. It’s also unlikely that people would like to work for or work with a person displaying those behaviors — those of self-serving character.

They may not have much choice if a person of self-serving character is their boss or a team member.

I choose to insulate myself from those of self-serving character. I coach others to do the same thing. Life is too short to willingly expose yourself to jerks.

My servant character friends and colleagues are not passive players on this stage of life; they demonstrate passions frequently. The difference between people of self-serving character and those of servant character is they can debate ideas heatedly while continuing to honor the value of their fellow humans.

I’d much rather receive feedback from a person of kind, caring, servant character than from one of self-serving character.

Can we change our character? What causes our character to evolve? Experiences. Reflection. Feedback. These things can cause us to shift from self-service to servant interactions.

Ultimately, we must be vigilant about how we treat others, how our character plays out with strangers, friends, family, and colleagues. If we’re not serving others, we must shift our behaviors and our methods to embrace serving others.

What kind of characters (pun intended) do you work with? How do you manage those self-serving characters around you?

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