Tag: Parenting (page 2 of 3)

10 Things I Guarantee You’ll Never Say

I have said a lot of stupid things in my life. Many of which I’ve said right here on this blog. Things that have gotten me in hot water, cold water, and dry with no water.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the trajectory of my life, how I’m spending my time, and where I want to point. As I’ve thought back over the years, there are things I realize I’ve never said that have significantly shaped who I am. God’s changed me through generosity, community, laughter, my son, my church(es), and my own leadership journey.

Sometimes what’s not said is more important than what is said. And there are things you’ll never say, either.

I’m not a gambling man, but I’d put good money on the line that you’ll never say any of these things. And if you find yourself saying them, stop it.

10 things you’ll never say

I wish I hadn’t been so generous.

Nobody regrets being generous. Even when your generosity isn’t well received, isn’t thanked, or isn’t noticed, the act of generosity changes you as much as it changes others.

Truth: You’ll never regret generosity.

Life would’ve been better if I hadn’t joined that small group.

You will have less “free” time in your life, more heartache, more burdens to bear, more mess to wade through, and more people to pray for. Life will be tougher. But you won’t regret joining a small group, because you’ll have people to journey through life with.

Truth: You’ll never regret investing in people’s lives.

My best friends? They’re the ones I never laugh with.

Get off the boring train, and start recognizing that laughter is a gift from God. You’ll grow more spiritually with a group of people that you enjoy being around than ones you dread meeting with.

Truth: If you don’t enjoy being around you, neither will others.

I wish I had spent less time with my kids.

And your kids will never say they wish that you’d spent less time with them, either.

Truth: Time with your kids is not time wasted.

I love to drink mediocre coffee.

No you don’t. Nobody does. Which is why when I have people over to my house, I serve the best stuff that I’ve got. Or I go get my hands on the best stuff I can find. All coffee is not created equal.

Truth: 1 cup of my coffee just might change your life. 🙂

I wish I had been less regular at church.

Your church isn’t perfect. Neither is mine. But being where God’s people gather to worship and celebrate the work of God is healing and life-giving.

Truth: Getting plugged into a local church will change the trajectory of your life.

“Leadership” doesn’t really have any relevance in my life.

No matter where you find yourself, leadership is playing a significant role. Sometimes it’s affecting you positively. Other times, negatively. Sometimes by its presence. Other times by its absence.

Truth: Focusing on your own leadership development isn’t a waste of time.

My life is much more lovely because of my cat.

Nope. It’s not.

Truth: I hate cats. So do you.

I wish I had not gone on that mission trip.

I wrote about it here, but my life was shifted when I traveled to Costa Rica. Others’ lives were shifted because I was sick for part of the week, too. Whether you go on a trip out of your country or across state lines, you won’t regret the time away from work or the money it cost you to get there.

Truth: Going on a mission trip will mess you up in the best way possible.

Children’s ministry? That’s a waste of time.

If you say this, expect to not be a pastor very long. Or expect your church numbers to dwindle quickly.

Truth: When you invest in children, you are investing in the life of the Church. For today and tomorrow.

Anything you’d add? 


Encouraging boys to be boys

Boys will be boys, so “they” say to the chagrin of moms everywhere.

Let me be honest: my wife struggles sometimes. Her natural instinct is to protect and nurture. And while that’s needed…a lot…sometimes it’s not needed. (FYI, my wife is amazing, and she’s learned how to encourage our son in great ways to be “all boy.”) Sometimes boys need to be allowed to be boys. Sometimes boys need to take stupid risks. Break things. Jump off of couches and counters. Skin their knees.

It’s what makes boys boys. And it’s part of what helps boys transition to becoming men.

The transition to manhood doesn’t begin at puberty. That transition begins lots earlier. It begins on the playground. The monkey bars call young boys out of their fear. The slide that ends in a pile of rocks woos the boy right out and engages him in a way that they’ll be facing in the world as adults. “Take risks now” is what we should be telling boys. “Do things that makes others cower in fear…and don’t wait.”

If you don’t let boys take risks, they’ll always play it safe. Then when God calls them to something huge, something bigger than themselves, something with great risk of failure if God himself doesn’t show up, they’ll cower in fear. They’ll snap under the pressure…just like the boy in the swimming pool who wouldn’t jump off of the high dive.

How you respond to fear as an adult is often reflective of how you were taught to respond as a child.

If you have boys, let them do dangerous things. Let them go outside and get dirty, rip a hole in their jeans, and bust their lip. Let them climb trees, stub their toes, and splash in muddy puddles. It will feel counterintuitive to your protective, nurturing nature as a parent but in the long run, it’ll pay off.

My wife and I are trying to do this with our son. And he’s turned in to quite the frog catcher. He just hadn’t had one do this on him yet.


Rex & the frog from Ben Reed on Vimeo.

Raise boys to be men. Not boys.


Do you have children? How do you think raising boys is different than raising girls?


Quantity time, Quality Time, & a Clingy son

Recently, I had a bit of traveling to do for work. Nearly 2 weeks worth, to be exact.

Confession: Though I see great value in getting out of your normal environment to dream, plan, and stretch, I hate being away from my family. I hate it.

My son is at the age where he definitely understands that I’m gone. But he doesn’t understand when I’ll be back. Every morning I was gone, he expected I was still going to be there to play with him.

"Show me your 'mean' face!"

Every night before he went to bed, he expected I’d be there to tuck him in.

My wife told him that I’d be home next Friday, but that meant nothing to him. Next Friday is just like tomorrow…or next year. He has no concept of time.

So when I returned home, he didn’t want me out of his sight. Everywhere I went, everything I did, every time took a sip of coffee, he was right by my side. He didn’t want to take the chance that I’d get on another plane without him. That I’d go somewhere and leave him back home. If I grabbed my keys, he heard them jangling together from across the house and came running.

It reminded me that in raising children, neglecting “quantity” time is a big deal. (I know that there are people that travel much more than I do, the demands of their job pulling them away. I interact lots with military families…I get it.) And when I neglect quality time, my son feels it.

Quality Not Guaranteed

You can’t avoid “quantity” time together and be guaranteed “quality” time.

Culture would lead us to believe that it’s the “quality” of your time with your family that is most important. That “quantity” time is a waste, and just isn’t feasible. With the demands of work, hobbies, church, etc., “quantity” family time is a thing of the past.

Truth: you can tell what you value by what fills up your calendar.

“Quality” time is found when you spend “quantity” time. In other words, “quality” time isn’t truly “quality” without a bit of “quantity” to go with it.

Oftentimes, I hear families say they focus more on the quality of their time together rather than the how much time they truly spend. Which is code, every time, for, “We’re too busy to spend much time together.”

Life takes on a different pace for most people through the summer months. A slower, more relaxed pace.

This summer, uncover quality through quantity.

Put your phone down. Don’t “Facebook” the moment. Instagram can wait. Instead of watching life unfold before you on your 3-inch LCD screen, watch it unfold in all its beauty.

Check voicemail later. Respond to emails after bedtime. Your Twitter feed can wait.

And take advantage of every moment.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart(K) and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, emphasis mine)



Creating art with my son

image credit: Creation Swap user http://creationswap.com/joshyates

We created art today,

my son & I crafting a masterpiece.

Weaving figure 8s, sweeping our brushes across,

we dominated the back yard.


We created art today.

He used the green, I the orange.

No blade stood a chance

as we blanketed every square inch of our canvas.


We created art today

amidst a stifling heat.

We left, covered in green bits of canvas

from which we had crafted.


We created art today,

art of the best kind.

Art that gives you hope

and makes you laugh.


We created art today,

art that displays real life.

And spotlights the best this life can offer.

Art that beckons others’ enjoyment.


We created art today

and we’ll do it again next week.

When the long blades call out

for a father and son to create a masterpiece.



Holding on to fortune cookies

Parenting is tough. And I hear it never gets any easier.

image credit mine

It’s easy to feel like a failure, too. Like all of the effort you pour into the work, all of the love you give, all of the consistency in discipline, all of the enforcing bedtimes and pointing your children to God is worthless. Especially when you have friends over and your child is the heathen child of the bunch that runs his Power Wheels into the back of another, smaller kid’s Power Wheels…twice.

But just last week, we opened fortune cookies together after a particularly delicious meal at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants. He hadn’t eaten a huge dinner, but of course, he had room for a fortune cookie (or two). I asked him to read his to me. (bear in mind…he’s 3. Which makes “fortune cookie time” rather interesting.) What he “read” I’ll never forget.

“What does yours say, Rex?”

“It says, ‘We have to go to church and to small group.” Before you jump to conclusions that I’ve raised a legalistic Pharisee, let me translate that for you: “I like to go to church on Sundays, and I like mommy and daddy’s small group. Can we go to either one now?”

That’s one of my prayers for him. That my son would grow up enjoying Sunday mornings. That being the son of a pastor wouldn’t burn him. That he wouldn’t look back with disdain on the evenings when my wife and I attended small group. That he would catch just how vital relationships are to his spiritual growth. That ministering and serving and worshipping on Sunday mornings would be a well of joy in his life.

Did he say all of that in his “reading” of the fortune cookie. Probably not. But don’t ruin it for me. Let me think that’s what he meant. 🙂

That’s one of those moments I’m going to tuck away in my back pocket on the days when my parenting seems to be a flop. On the days when I look at other parents and wish I were more like them. On the days when my child is the heathen, I’ll lock back in to this fortune cookie.

Fortune cookie moments are rare in any parenting’s life. But they’re a diamond worth holding on to.

What “fortune cookie” do you hold on to in parenting?



7 Phrases a Pastor Should Regularly Say Off-Stage

I recently wrote a post relaying phrases a pastor should never say.

Though this is important, there are also things that a pastor should regularly be in the habit of saying. And not the passing, “Good to see ya” that every pastor says. Not the trivial phrases that everyone expects.

image credit: Creative Commons, Franklin Photos

There are phrases that every pastor should say that take you off guard. These words help build culture and show what a local church values. As they say, “As the pastor goes, so goes the local church.” (nobody that I know has said that. It just sounds catchy and works here) They speak volumes beyond what a pastor communicates from stage.

 7 Phrases a Pastor Should Say Off-Stage

1. I’ll return that email tomorrow.

There are certain things that are pressing in nature. Everything else should be relegated to email…which can be checked and responded to tomorrow. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were the problems you’re dealing with in this moment. Most of the time, your marriage isn’t going to be fixed if we wait until tomorrow. Your job crisis won’t go away before the sun comes up tomorrow. And your parenting woes can wait until later, too. It’s okay to say, “Tomorrow.”

2. No, I can’t meet on Tuesday evening. That’s my family time.

Setting aside time to be with your family is vital. Letting others know that you’ve made a priority out of spending quantity and quality time with your family is highly important, because your congregation takes its cues from you. If you want them to value their family, you’ve got to value yours.

3. I need rest, too.

Pastor, you’re not a superhuman. We need rest, too. And if we want others to experience the natural rhythms of life, and honor God with their rest, we’ve got to model that. Don’t work 6 days/week, and also Sunday. Take your Sabbath. The work God has called you to deserves your best, which you can’t give without adequate amounts of rest.

4. I don’t know the answer.

Pastor, you’re not a superhuman here, either. Unless you’re the Bibleman. Quit acting like you always have the answer, even when you don’t. We’re pretty good at this, aren’t we? We can fudge our way around theologically even though we have no idea what we’re talking about.

When you model humility in this area, those you lead will feel the freedom to not have every answer before they feel like they can lead. They’ll also not come to you for every answer, creating a culture of self-learners.

5. I need help.

There are certain pastors that try to do everything on their own. In the process, they cap their leadership. The local church was never meant to function under the leadership of one person. Varying gifts are utilized when others are given the chance to lead and flesh those gifts out. Pastors can’t do it on their own. They should bring others to the table. (the same goes for times in a pastor’s life when he needs spiritual/counseling/financial help. Modeling that it’s okay to ask for help in this area is an important step for pastors, too).

When you ask for help, you encourage others to do the same.

6. I value my wife more than I value my ministry.

Say this and mean it. Build your schedule around it. Block off time with her. And if you’re asked about it, don’t hesitate to let people know what you’re doing. (1 Timothy 3:4-5) Protecting your marriage is one of the most important things you can do as a pastor.

7. I don’t have time for small group either. But I make time.

You’ve got the same number of hours in a day that those you lead have. You can’t make time any more than you can make dirt. You have to take time if you want to live life in community. If this is truly a value of you and your church, then model it. Block off the time once/week to minister, and be ministered to, in authentic community.


Did I leave anything out? Anything else you think a pastor should regularly say off-stage?

* image credit: Creative Commons, Franklin Photos








50 things you should tell your children

image credit: CreationSwap user Justin Knight

Yesterday, I compiled a list of 50 things you should never tell your child. Ever.

But that’s only half of the story. While there are plenty of things you should not say to your child, there are also plenty of things you should tell them on a habitual basis. I’d be remiss to leave out that part of the story.

Most of these are applicable no matter what the age. Whether your children are 2 or 60, you can and should speak them.

Some of them may need to be uniquely suited if your children are older than 2, though. And some (like #19) may not work if you’re a single parent.

50 things you should tell your children

1. I love you.

2. I will always love you.

3. No matter what you do, you’ll always be my child.

4. I love you, but I’m still going to punish you.

5. Yes, I’ll forgive you.

6. Will you forgive me? I messed up.

7. You’re so valuable to me.

8. Let’s go to church.

9. Yes, I’ll drop what I’m doing to play.

10. No, I’m not too busy.

11. You drew that?!? Amazing!

12. I’m proud of you.

13. You slipped up, but you’re still precious to me.

14. Can we talk?

15. Let’s hang out.

16. You don’t have a choice here. You’re 2 years old.

17. You’re safe with me.

18. Yes, I’ll help.

19. You’re not the most important person in my life…your mom (my wife) (or your dad (my husband)) is.

20. Honoring God is always the right choice.

21. Learning to obey mommy and daddy is important.

22. Let’s pray.

23. Let’s go on a date! (dad to daughter, or mom to son)

24. To boys specifically: Never treat your mother with disrespect. Never.

25. To boys specifically: stand up for yourself.

26. To boys specifically: it’s okay to cry.

27. To boys specifically: it’s okay to be dangerous.

28. To boys specifically: being dangerous can leave you hurt. But playing it safe isn’t what men are called to do.

29. To boys specifically: fight for things that are eternally valuable.

30. To boys specifically: stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

31. To girls specifically: You’re worth far more than rubies.

32. To girls specifically: you’re beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not.

33. To girls specifically: you’re my princess, and you always will be.

34. Love those that nobody else loves.

35. Love others more than you love yourself.

36. Love and respect those who don’t love or respect you.

37. Serve others like your life depended on it.

38. Learn to respect those in authority over you. Life will be much easier if you do.

39. There is no problem so big that you can’t come to me.

40. You’ll never do anything to lose my love.

41. You have so many gifts. Can I help you use them?

42. I will always want what is best for you.

43. It’s okay if you mess up. I mess up, too.

44. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, if something’s wrong, call me. I’ll come running.

45. I don’t care if your friends get to do that. I’m your parent, not theirs.

46. Be a good friend. Others will love you for it.

47. It’s okay to be upset.

48. You can never do anything so bad that God would desert you.

49. You’re a ____ (insert your last name), and ____s (insert your last name again) don’t back down from our convictions.

50. Your mom and dad aren’t perfect. But we love you unconditionally.


Anything you’d add?

* image credit: CreationSwap user Justin Knight


50 Things to Never Say to your Children

image credit: CreationSwap user Marian Trinidad

I’m not a perfect parent. In fact, I’m far from it. I say the wrong things, do the wrong things, and am learning more and more every day.

And I’m not one to judge.

But I heard a mother say something the other day, and it made every bone in my body cringe. She was walking up to the door of a building, texting on her phone, while her young son walked in front of her. I noticed that they stood at the door for 15-20 seconds, and the son hadn’t opened the door yet. He was staring around, noticing the nice day, looking into the building, and…well, not opening the door. Apparently, his mother expected he would have already opened it. So she blurted out, loud enough for everyone to hear,

What is wrong with you?!?

He was stunned. He didn’t cry or yell back or stomp his feet because he was angry. He just stood there and looked up at his mom. Obviously thinking it was ok just to take in the scenery and move at a slower pace, it took him aback when his mom, who was distracted by something on her phone, snapped at him and degraded his very existence. I’m sure that what he heard was

There is something wrong with you…otherwise, you would’ve opened the door already for me!!

And in that moment, I realized that knowing what not to say to your children doesn’t automatically come to you when you have a child. I guess I thought it did. 🙂

So I thought I’d put a list together of things you should never say to your child. Even in jest, these can be damaging to a young mind.

50 Things to Never Say to your Children

1. What’s wrong with you?!?

2. You’ll never amount to anything.

3. I don’t really like you.

4. You’re worthless to me.

5. You’re stupid.

6. I wish you’d never been born.

7. I wish you were more like ____.

8. If you’d just shut up…

9. Stop being loud so I can work…

10. It’s okay to lie a little bit

11. You’re such a disappointment.

12. If you do that again, I’ll hit you.

13. YOU made me this way.

14. YOU caused the problems between your mother and I.

15. You’re dead to me.

16. I don’t love you right now.

17. You’re an idiot.

18. Hard work will never get you anywhere.

19. I hate you.

20. I don’t have time for you.

21. Quit bothering me.

22. Until you fix this problem, I don’t love you.

23. Left up to me, I’d never see you again.

24. You’re not important to me right now.

25. I hate coming to your games.

26. Quit dreaming, that’s never possible.

27. This is your art? It’s awful…

28. Quit being so creative. That’ll never get you anywhere.

29. When you grow up, I hope you’ll be more like your brother/sister.

30. Quit acting like your mother.

31. Your father was a loser, too.

32. If you keep acting like this, your mom and dad might get a divorce.

33. From mother: Don’t listen to your daddy.

34. From dad: Don’t listen to your mother.

35. If you do that again, you’re going to make God not love you anymore.

36. Was it your birthday yesterday?

37. I don’t think I can ever forgive you for what you just did.

38. If you choose to do that, our relationship is over.

39. I’m ashamed to call you my child.

40. Do as I say, not as I do.

41. I know I’m right. There’s nothing you can do or say to convince me otherwise.

42. No, I won’t listen to you.

43. God loves you because you’re good.

44. Go talk to someone else. I’m too busy with work right now.

45. No, I won’t read to you.

46. To boys: real men don’t cry.

47. To girls: don’t cry.

48. You better stop, or I’ll give you something to cry about.

49. Quit being such a little baby.

50. Do what you want, I don’t care.


Anything you’d add?

* image credit: CreationSwap user Marian Trinidad


How to hold your Baby if you Need Both Hands Free to take a picture

I know this is random, but I thought you’d enjoy the laugh.

(HT: 22 Words)


Bad Parenting Lessons from Curious George

Ever read a book from the series, Curious George?

image via Zap 2 It

I’ve got a 2 year old son, and we read a lot to him. Curious George is one of those books he likes. “Monkey book!” he says.

And I’m a critic. I read and listen to things with a critical eye. Sometimes, that’s really helpful. But many times, it’s just annoying.   I wish I could just read and flip that little switch off in my brain…because I’m sure that the author producer wasn’t trying to communicate the strange things that are now running through my head about his book…but I can’t help myself.

Curious George is a great children’s series…but when I read it, here’s what I see.

5 Bad Parenting Lessons from Curious George

  • Don’t worry about listening to your Dad. Everything will be okay. Even if you do what he would never want you to do, within 20 minutes, he’ll be laughing with you.
  • Don’t worry about listening to your Dad.  You’ll have more fun that way.  Especially if ice cream is involved.  And at the end of the day, the disaster you caused means everybody wins…except the ice cream shop.
  • Don’t worry about listening to your Dad. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Everybody will love you more.  The more trouble you cause, the more people will end up liking you.  Ignore the rules!
  • Don’t worry about listening to your Dad.  You won’t ever get punished. (The man in the yellow hat never dolls out any consequences).  That chocolate factory that you nearly destroyed…ahh…don’t worry about it, little guy!  Just laugh about them losing thousands of dollars of chocolate!
  • Your poor decisions don’t ever cause any real trouble. You may wreck the local library, let all of the animals out of the zoo, and ruin everything of value in your friend’s new restaurant, but just give it a few minutes…everything will be even better because of your mischief.  In fact, thank you for your bad decisions.


Ever read Curious George?  Am I the only one who sees these things?


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