Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Casual Sex or Broken Bottles? 5 Things Every Parent Must Start Today

In Parenting on September 3, 2014 at 9:22 am

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The bottle started spinning.

The group had gathered while the parents were busy doing other things.  They found a quiet spot and now sat there cross-legged, hormone infused, and anxious as the emptied bottle spun around and around.  Billy had spun the bottle and desperately hoped that it would fall on Amy.  He, with his shaggy hair, strong chin, and tanned skin after the Summer spent at the lake and she with her long auburn hair, green eyes, and sweet…lips.  This was all he could think about!  How sweet her lips appeared.  He wanted to kiss those lips.  He wanted to touch her body.

The bottle kept spinning.

The group was seated boy/girl/boy/girl so that it created fairness in play.  Palms were sweaty, the room was humid, and everyone was nervous.  To whom would the bottle point?  Who would go in the closet with Billy?  They had no defined any rules.  They were no boundaries spoken, though surely there were unspoken ones.

The bottle stopped.

Many of us might remember playing “Spin the Bottle” or “7 in Heaven” growing up.  It seems these days there is not even that pretense.  The most we might ever do, because we did not really know better is a heavy make-out session.  Today, I hear of Junior High kids sneaking off before school, during lunch, and after school for casual sex.  I wish they knew there is, and never was, anything casual about sex.  Apart from the obvious, why is there such desire?  I am not saying desires have changed.  I was young…once.  I remember.  Reports today suggest that half of the High School population has engaged in sexual activity, which does not include anything outside of intercourse.  Strikingly, 1 of 5 14 year olds are engaged!

A broken bottle.

Casual sex, whether in the classroom, playground, car, or bedroom leads to broken bottles.  The term “casual sex” is being used to denote an all-encompassing understanding.  I believe whether vaginal or oral, sex is sex.  A president might not want to believe this, but it is true.  While hooking up may be overplayed in the media as I suspect it is, there are still high numbers of children engaging inactivity for which they are ill-prepared.  Having knowledge of a subject does not mean you should act.  Broken psyches and lives are a constant result of unpreparedness and improper orders of events.  God has brought light and power into the fragile bottles of our lives.  As the father of a teen and tween, I am daily praying that the bottles in my care stay intact.

Kids are curious creatures!  Out of this curiosity, they explore.  Exploration can lead to infatuation that can lead to involvement.  How can we curb their enthusiasm?

Talk.  Parents tend to talk to their girls more than boys.  Both need education, awareness, and boundaries.  Also, twice as many parents feel they have talked with their kids than claimed by the kids.  We must make sure we are heard and understood.  Helping them see the reasons why waiting is healthy and encouraging them to discuss options with you will certainly help.

Honesty.  Parents who believe their children are saints need to have a reality check.  Everyone knows mine are the only two angels still living on the Earth!  😉  Being honest means to accept that our kids are not the angels we want them to be.  Being honest also means, in careful measures, sharing your life story too.

Openness.  Parents must work very hard to keep lines open for kids to approach them.  We, as parents, say we are open, but we must present that way too.  Our body language ALWAYS says more than we think it does.  If we cringe, faint, scream, or judge we are closing off the doors of communication.  Once the door is closed, they WILL find someone else to be an influence.

Boundaries.  Mediums such as phones and tablets are providing vast arrays of access to our kids.  From image searches to Snap-chat we must stay on the offensive.  Setting boundaries for kids on their web time and TV time is critical.  Confiscating electronics after a certain time of night is tough but healthy.  Taking time off from electronics will also be of value from time to time.

Modesty.  Teaching our children, both boys and girls, to dress and relate modestly will assist.  It is not just the clothes someone wears that is the problem.  Often the way we talk to each other is immodest and creates a culture of disrespect.  If we can teach our kids modesty we raise self-respect and self-esteem both of which are pillars of strength that undergird their spirit, mind, and body.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

4 Ways to Lead Like a Boss Without Being Bossy

In Leadership, Life and Culture on March 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

Have you seen this video yet?

Words like “pushy”, “stubborn”, and “bossy” are legitimate terms and should not be banned because they are used poorly or with negative connotations.  If words that are used in different, or worse, ways than intended are to be banned, then why not also ban the following:

  • Grass
  • Weed
  • Gay
  • Coke
  • Christian
  • Passion
  • Sex
  • Epic

Every one of these words are used differently than intended.  Some are used in immoral and/or illegal ways as well.  The point is that we should not “ban” a word, but rather, engage in better speech.  In the above video, good-minded people want to make an adjustment to how the word “bossy” is applied.  The problem is that bossy is a good word at times.  Bossy connotes a particular attitude more than aptitude.  Regardless of gender, I believe there are humans created to lead and those who are not.  Those who can lead need to be enriched with aptitude without engaging in poor attitudinal habits.  Here are 4 ways to lead like a boss without being bossy.

Communicate

The Bible uses the term shepherd when it speaks of leadership.  A shepherd will make decisions at times the sheep may not like.  Changing pastures and drinking holes will be met with opposition at times.  Keeping a dumb sheep from jumping off the cliff might require physical captivity. Each of these are for the betterment of the group.  In leadership today, the same is often needed.  However, the failure to communicate the need for change or denial of discussion about the need for change can be viewed as pushy, stubborn, or downright bossy.  Learning to communicate is indeed critical to successful leadership.

Collaborate

There are definite differences between leader and follower.  Someone has to be in charge and others need to be instructed.  Leading without being bossy can be stemmed by finding those moments of common ground and working together to accomplish a project.  Some projects are best left to the team to handle while the leader is involved in other necessary ventures.  However, when the paths cross lock arms and shoulder the load together.  Additionally, finding ways to serve others under your leadership lessens the attitude and inflates the aptitude to lead.

Cultivate

Developing relationships among the ranks is critical.  If a leader is only seen in the “ivory tower” and never among the people it will be understood much like the Princess who said, “Let them eat cake”, which refers to the oblivious nature of leadership at times.  Learn the names and needs of your people to best of your ability.  Undercover Boss is always entertaining because the boss sees and feels the people and their needs in a new way.

Calm Down

Leaders tend to be highly driven and internally motivated to succeed.  Leaders often have a vision that is years down the road but want it today.  Learning to calm down and work within the construct given gives longevity to the position and to the person.  Those who drive too hard will kill those being driven and possibly stress out themselves.  Many things might get accomplished in the short-run, but the wake of dead left behind tells the real tale.  Good leaders will cast the vision and then provide achievable goals along the way.

Conclusion

Teaching our boys, and girls, the aptitude for leadership while leaving the negative attitudes behind will dramatically change the future of every community and our own country.  If someone, regardless of gender, is behaving in a way that does not care for the needs of others or the best interest of the group then “bossy” still applies.  Besides, if we remove “bossy”, our culture might start using another word we don’t like either.  Teach our kids who have ambition, strength, and leadership qualities to be the boss without being “bossy”.

When On-Demand Breaks Down

In Faith, Suffering, Trust on January 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

waiting Living in an on-demand society has its drawbacks.  Our patience and tolerance of time has been on a diet for years to the point that it is dangerously thin!  We want things our way and immediately.  Servers are not fast enough so we have on-demand drinks.  Speed limits are not fast enough so we drive faster.  Communication is not fast enough so we have cell phones for immediate access.  Now we have social media to have instant results.  Television shows have too many commercials so we DVR and skip the commercials or buy the Hopper and it auto skips them.  Black Friday is not early enough so we camp out for opening at midnight.  Now we even see stores opening earlier.  Who can imagine going back to dial-up internet speeds?  We want our mail now.  We have changed the name to “snail-mail” versus e-mail.  What happens when on-demand breaks down?

God’s Four Letter Word

When we approach God and make a request we tend to expect on-demand miracles.  When God says “wait”, we treat it like it is a four-letter word.  You know those, right?  Those words we were told were off-limits.  Those “bad” words, “vulgar” words, inappropriate words.  Those words the “other-side-of-the-tracks” kids used.  When God says wait we think it is so bad, so vulgar, so disrespectful, that we cannot comprehend it.  John 11 shares intimate moments between friends.  Jesus had 3 good friends, apart from the 12 disciples.  He was in a neighboring town when he received the message that Lazarus was very ill.  The sisters knew Jesus.  They had a strong friendship with Him.  They wanted some immediate response and healing.  Jesus had healed “everyone” else, so what is it to come over for a friend?  They wanted no-waiting, on-demand, front-of-the-line status.

So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus,
he stayed where he was for the next two days.
John 11:5-6

Wait…what?  Exactly!  Jesus took note of the problem and chose to stay for 2 days.

Hating to Wait

I admit I hate to wait.  I am a product of society, to a degree, and hate to wait around for something that I think should move faster.  Whether it is pedestrians, cars at stop lights, or doctors running tests.  I clump them all together and often feel things should move faster.  I carry a phone for immediate updates on mail, test scores, sports scores, bank accounts, and more.  When God tells me to wait, I have to really check my attitude.  We are being conditioned to run ahead and away from God who often demands our slowing down.  We run too fast.  We skip too much.  Our babies are having babies before we turn around twice.  I know the need to slow down but how?

Learning to Lean

Mary and Martha had to learn also to wait.  For two days they waited.  For them, tragedy struck and their lives were ruined.  When you read through the passage, Jesus seems flippant.  Now, I know He is not.  But it feels that way.  Your best friend is in a bad situation and you wait?  My son is in agony God and you  wait?  My daughter is not breathing God and you wait?  My Mom is dying God and you wait?  My husband is beating me up God and you wait?  I lost my job last month God and you wait?  I have been stabbed in the back God and you wait?  Learning to lean on God is a difficult lesson and can only occur in the most desperate of times.  Who can learn this when everything is right?  Who learns this when it all goes your way?  The problem is that when things do not go our way we often get mad and walk away from God.  Yet, when God says wait there is a reason.

Challenge Accepted

The next time God says wait what should we do?  Before you dismiss the following as spiritual jargon, consider each item deeply.

Open the lines of communication.  Before you wall yourself off and give God the silent treatment, consider the fact that God is trying to get your attention.  Jesus had specific revelations He needed to make that bring us great joy now but were difficult at the time.  God wants to communicate and our busy lifestyle usually gets in the way.  Take this time to communicate.

Don’t look for God’s logic.  People always say, “God has a reason.”  The problem with that statement is that is so cold and unfeeling.  Don’t look for God’s purpose in the middle of the problem.  You will go crazy trying to figure out the workings of God.  Instead, take a look around and savor these moments.  Write down your thoughts and feelings before you forget them when it is all over.  Look for God’s grace and mercy in the small things and journal it.  Trust me.  You will forget them later if you don’t.  When the bitterness bug tries to bite you can always look back and see God’s hand through the process.

Accept the challenge.  God is always at work to deepen your faith and reach the world with the gift of grace through Jesus Christ.  This moment may have to do with you and your faith.  This moment may have to do with those around you who need to see faith in action.  Either way, express to God your decision to accept the challenge.

Killer Meetings

In Leadership on August 7, 2013 at 10:16 am

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Have you ever left a meeting and wondered what just happened? Have you ever left a meeting needing to check your blood pressure? Have you ever found yourself texting, checking email, or playing Words with Friends during the meeting? Maybe you began posting rants about the meeting on Facebook or Twitter. If you are really sneaky you might have taken pics and posted them too.

I call these Killer Meetings. We get so bored or frustrated because we do not feel anything is being accomplished. We all have so much to do that we only have a certain amount of time. We don’t want our time wasted unless it was our choice. A new form of meeting that is emerging is called the Email Meeting. I appreciate what is being attempted and sometimes it works best with busy schedules. However, there is a creative confluence that happens when we get together that is missed in email. I read in Proverbs the other day that toil brings profit and talking brings poverty. Let’s apply that to the meetings we lead or attend. Here are 4 basic things to remember to move from killer meetings to killing it meetings.

1. Movement. The best way to keep a meeting moving is to have a definite finish moment. This reminds me of counseling sessions that have a timer. You have seen movies and shows that portray the couple in the middle of an emotional moment when the alarm sounds. The counselor interrupts and tells them the session is over and calendars the next session. The point is to keep the couple focused and working hard. Starting and ending on time may feel awkward but creates a respect for the time provided. Reminding people that another meeting will be scheduled if the agenda is not accomplished tends to drive home the need for focus and good flow of information and ideas.  There are times when another meeting is required and some information should not be rushed.  However, many decisions are neglected because we did not move through the discussion in an appropriate fashion.

2. Management. People have a tendency to get off task. Discussions and conversations ensue on a variety of topics. Countless meetings have gone on for hours only to leave everyone worn out and wondering what happened. Many leaders and committee heads have started printing agendas and passing them out. The problem is they are not always used. The leader must keep the group on task. One way to accomplish this is to send out the agenda before the meeting. This way everyone knows what to expect and can formulate their thoughts that aid in movement.  When the group begins to stray the leader needs to guide them back to the topic at hand.  Managing a meeting requires a focus and attention to the task at hand.  If the leader simply lets the conversation prattle on indefinitely then hours pass and no decision is made.

3. Making Decisions. I am constantly battling this issue. Often I sit through meetings where there has been grand discussion without any decisions. An agenda that does not drive toward a decision is not useful. Meetings that stay on time and are managed well but do not make decisions leaves the people tired and possibly deciding it was not worth it. I have seen groups dwindle because nothing is happening. A skilled group leader will design the agenda that demands a decision before the end. Certainly we are to discuss. However, some people like to talk about something without conclusions. These types will kill a meeting, a ministry, or any group. They can hijack the group and drive to derision and not decisions. I am not saying that rash decisions should be made with discussion and debate. Excessive talk and off-topic discussion must be squelched in order for the greater good of the group to be experienced.

4. Maintenance. When the alarm sounds, so to speak, the clean up begins. Have all the items been completed? Is another meeting needed? After the meeting the leader or secretary sends a report to the group reminding them what happened. Also, a report needs to be sent up the leadership ladder for accountability. Without this work, we all forget what happened. The decisions made at this meeting might affect other groups in the organization. If these are not shared there could be overlapping resource needs which leads to difficulties.

Adjusting from killer meetings to meetings that kill it takes courage and consistency.  This change does not happen in the first meeting of a group that has a history of babbling without anything beneficial.  Allow for some flexibility and over time your group will start killing it!

 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23 ESV)

Mirror Mirror

In Journey on February 28, 2013 at 9:59 am

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Mirror, Mirror, on the wall who’s the fairest of them all?

Who doesn’t remember that line?  The Queen always wanted the mirror to reveal her as the fairest of them all.  However, the reflection was not her own but of Snow White.  Self-image and self-esteem are often defined, unfortunately, by what we see in the mirror.  The best looking can see someone who is fat and ugly.  The ugliest can see beauty.  There are dangers in not seeing reality for what it is in any case.  It is important that we see the proper reflection…our true self.  God has created you in a particular way.  Obviously, the way we treat this gift from God can alter the perfection that God intended.  That is not the discussion today.  In this post, I would like for us to look at who God has recreated us to be.  At our birth we are innocent before God.  We have been “made in His own image” in that our Spirit is at peace with God.  When moral accountability begins so does spiritual accountability.  Sin twists, bends, and disfigures.  Because of this we are no longer suitable to be in God’s presence at death.

There is hope!  Knowing our condition, God sent Jesus.  He did what we could not so that we could be changed.  At the moment of faith, we are made right before God again.  In this right standing we must give honor to the one who did the work.  We did not do anything but Christ did everything.  God looked upon the perfection of His Son coupled with our belief and we are made right.  The apostle Paul would comment in a letter that it was no longer Paul that lived, but Christ that lived within. So when you look in the mirror, we should be reflecting Jesus.  Look beyond, the wrinkles and scars.  Look past the blemishes.  Let Jesus shine through for your benefit and for the benefit of others.

In Hebrews chapter 1 we see the idea that Jesus Christ is the perfect reflection of His father God.  The Son reflects God’s own glory and everything about Him represents God exactly.  If it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me, then I should be reflecting Jesus who is the perfect reflection of His Father.

Am I?  Am I really reflecting God?  If I were to ask those around would they be in agreement?  The Mirror wasn’t for the Queen.  What would the mirror of your friends and co-workers reveal?  If you don’t like the answer you believe you would get here are a few tips to help you along:

Choose.  Jesus had to choose what He would follow.  Jesus had to choose His responses.  These decisions are not always easy but are worthwhile.

Communicate.  Jesus stayed in communication with God.  He knew what was desired.  He knew the plan because of the communication that was maintained.  Reading scripture and talking with God are more than tic marks on your daily journey.  They are the lines of communication needed to receive up-to-the-minute notifications.

Capitalize.  Let one victory become the next one.  You cannot eat an elephant more than one bite at a time.  Set small goals that lead to medium goals that lead to larger goals.  You want to win the championship, but today’s game comes first.

Calibrate.  I was always told to make small corrections before making dramatic corrections.  If, at the end of the day, you notice something out of whack then make small corrections to get back in alignment.

Have a great day!!

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