Thursday, April 20, 2017

When you grieve over a prodigal child

Have you ever been heartbroken by, or disappointed in one of your children?  Have any of your kids messed up, maybe they even embarrassed you in the process?  Did they run away, come home with an embarrassing/bizarre tattoo, experiment with drugs, stay out way too late with a boyfriend/girlfriend, wreck their car, maybe they called home for bail?  Did they ever tell you they didn’t believe in your God anymore?  

It hurts whenever our children exhibit behaviors that contradict their upbringing.  It can be devastating when a child you’ve raised pursues a divergent path.  During such dark times, it feels like the pain will never dissipate, and the future seems hard to navigate.  

One of the greatest mysteries in this life is how godly parents sometimes raise ungodly young adults.  You try your hardest, you do “everything right,” and in the end, some children reject everything you ever taught them.  It simply doesn’t make sense how some of the nicest, most faithful believers can have problems with their children.  

Nothing can be more painful for parents than watching, helplessly, as their children make choices that carry devastating consequences.  What can we do as parents when our children take a different path than the one we hoped for?  

This isn’t the time to make it about you.  If your child is on a self-destructive path, or simply slips up a little, that’s not the time to tell your child about how their actions are reflecting poorly on your reputation.  Chances are, they want to develop their own individuality/identity, and this time of acting-out reinforces they don’t care about your reputation anyway.  Besides, what are you really concerned about, in the big picture, what’s more important here, your image or their well-being?  

This isn’t a time to seclude yourself either.  Surround yourself with close friends who will support you spiritually and emotionally.  God put certain people in your life for a reason, trust in them, lean on them.  You might be surprised to find out they’ve been through some very similar situations with their own children too.  

This also isn’t the time to lock yourself in the basement until the storms of life clear up.  Go on a mini-vacation, get away for a day or two, and distance yourself from the situation so you can think clearly.  When we are anxious our ability to think rationally diminishes drastically; you need to relax and unwind so you can think logically.   

This isn’t a time to give up.  Don’t lose hope.  Keep praying.  Everyone has within themselves the potential to change.  Prov 22:6 isn’t a promise that your kids will never make mistakes or they will always be faithful, but it is a truism that when you lay the right foundation your kids will have a more stable future and a heritage to fall back on when they need it most, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This isn’t a time to build walls or lock the door.  Don’t punish them forever.  Reality and consequences can often be punishment enough.  Will you need boundaries?  You’ll know, or your close friend will tell you.  The point here is trust in your children, that they can “come to their senses.”  Keep a lifeline open so when the time is right, you can welcome your prodigal home.

This is a time to reflect on your relationship with God.  Think about how you have, in your own ways and in other times, let Him down. No, I’m not talking about your parenting style, I’m not saying you failed as a parent and this is why your kids messed up.  I’m talking about you when you blew it in general.  How did you want Him to respond when you sinned, when you rebelled against His will, when you disappointed God?  You wanted grace.  You wanted redemption.  You wanted His acceptance and unconditional love -- therefore give away to others what you wanted most and let God be your example, not your excuse.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The unforeseen problem when states offer free college tution

I think the free two-year college tuition Tennessee offers has been great, in fact one of our sons is currently benefiting from it.  Now, Tennessee is offering free two-year tuition to adults as well, which I think is wonderful too.  Recently I heard New York is offering free four year college tuition to their residents.  Personally, I have no issue with states offering free college tuition, but I see a problem just around the bend.

I'm not a Socialist, not by any stretch, but I'm glad to see the shift towards free State college coming about.  Free college really makes sense, in a society that provides K-12 education already.  The problem with free college isn't, "Where will the money come from?"  Tennessee has shown, successfully, that their lottery proceeds can be utilized quite well to cover these costs.  What could be wrong then with free college?

Again, I'm in favor of free college, such as what we have here in Tennessee, and I hope as many people as possible will take advantage of this, so this post isn't a rant against free college.  But, I do see a serious problem when higher-education is free.  Namely, we as a society will eventually devalue a college education if it's free.

Only a generation ago, you could do well supporting your family with a high school diploma, but in the last few decades, better paying jobs required a Bachelor's degree and we've seen that shift to where now often times a Graduate degree is becoming a necessity.  Making college free will only exacerbate this trend.

It's basically a supply & demand issue and a perception problem.  When more people are able to enter the workforce with college degrees, there's more competition for the same positions, thus giving employers more leverage.  And, we tend to place value not only on the education which is received in college, we also value a college education because of the cost of the education itself.  Free degrees will not carry the same clout in the minds of the masses.  Therefore, when you add these factors together, it seems like in a few years a Bachelor's degree will be viewed no differently than a high school diploma is viewed today.

I doubt I have an answer as to "now what?" or how to avoid free college from being devalued in the minds of most people.  But, I'm still in favor of states offering free tuition.

So, my suggestion to the people being blessed by free college degrees is the same advice I've given to freshman college students for years: Do well in your studies and get good grades so you can shoot for a good scholarship and make it into a Graduate program of your choice.  Effort and hard work are rewarding, and no one can take your education away from you, so soak up all of the free education you can and go out and make a difference in the world around you.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

United Airlines and our inability at Recognizing Failure For What it is

My Iphone crashed this morning after downloading the latest software update.  I can't get into the Sprint Store until 10:00 a.m. (who opens a business that late?!?!?!?), so as I look through Facebook this morning, the above meme is everywhere, I mean everywhere.  Yes this picture made me laugh, and I can appreciate the gallows's humor in it.  Still, to me, if you think this issue is about United Airlines, you are mistaken.

Okay, I'm old enough to remember when people died from the Tylenol poisonings.  I also remember the mess the Catholic church was in after the mass molestations of young boys was mainstream news.  Point being: For everyone to lay the blame of the forced removal of the Asian doctor at the feet of the entire organization of United Airlines, or for people to say they'll never fly that airline again (and I could care less what airline you choose, I don't think I've ever flown United) is ridiculous.

Let me try to say this another way, we all still take pain-relievers, even though people died taking Tylenol, and most believers still attend church even though there were sick perverted warped people preying on young boys.  Though I imagine for those young boys and their families, religion will be forever tainted.

United isn't the first and they won't be the last to have their image tarnished though an embarrassing event like this.  But I think this whole thing reflects more on us as a society than it does any single company or organization.

I think the United removal of a passenger is being way-over-exaggerated, and though it's entertaining to poke fun at the faceless corporation United, we all need to take a step back.  Stupid people make bad choices, and the employees that forcibly removed that passenger have no excuse for their actions.  They were idiotic and their actions are inexcusable, and those are the people we should focus on.  I don't even know their names, and I doubt most people do.  

I hardly think it's fair United's stock plunged 1 billion dollars over the actions of a few poorly trained employees.  I think someone should have suffered the consequences for this idiotic incident, but that would be the people the who did the removal and their immediate supervisors who trained them.  But the whole organization?  Come on!  Think about it.

I could care less if United fails over this, and I'll be laughing at the Negan memes for days to come.  But, I do care that we as a culture jump on the bandwagon that major corporations are always evil and must be to blame when things go wrong.  I say make the individuals responsible for this accountable, make them pay the consequences, and be fair to those who aren't directly involved.

Yet, in a culture that's lawsuit-happy and always looking for someone in the boardroom to lynch, this is a hard sell.  If this is where we end up, perpetually blaming the entire organization for the actions of a few, hammering those who are further up the food-chain and who had nothing to do with this, then we are misguided and we fail as a society.