What are you owning? - Discipleship 184

I can remember the very first time I purchased something with my own money. I had been saving up my Christmas and birthday money in order to buy a brand new video game for my Super Nintendo! My dad and I headed into the city to the local Zellers which had the best selection of games for purchase. I remember being filled with such great anticipation and excitement knowing that this was something I had worked for and planned to purchase. I was a proud owner!!

As a parent and a pastor I've often asked myself the question of what I am owning? The families under my pastoral care and even my own children don't necessarily belong to me in that I own them, but they are gifts that I've been allowed to help shape, model and develop. Knowing this, here are three things I'm learning what I should be owning as both a parent and a pastor:

1. Values, not programs. Programs are wonderful. They allow us to experience a variety of things, and sometimes even help to teach us something (ie, swimming lessons). But...no matter how flashy or fancy the program is, the program itself DOES NOT develop people. Instead of owning a program, I need to own the value that initiates the program. For example, if my hope is that those under my influence as a leader or a parent would learn how to live generously, I should be more concerned about cultivating the value of generosity rather than the programs or initiatives that allow me to be generous. Programs do not have the long-term sustainability that values do. If I value generosity, I will continue to learn how to live generously long after the program that encouraged my initial generosity is gone. Programs do have value, but they should never be valued greater than the values they are designed to develop are.

2. Relationships, not statistics. This seems like a no brainer. The quality of my relationships isn't directly correlated to how many things I've experienced in each relationship. What I mean is that I can't add up the number of dates I've had with my wife and evaluate the depth of our connection based solely on this numerical data. Instead, I need to long for other identifiers for relational growth. These are somewhat more difficult to observe and measure. They include (but are not limited to): trust, communication, risk, authenticity and support. It's impossible to measure the level of trust in a relationship based on a numerical scale. The quality of the relational connections I possess is not directly correlated to statistical data alone. I must have other external measuring devices that help me to describe my definition of success.

3. Character qualities, not to-do lists. Developing people extends beyond behavioural modification. If our goal is simply to have people "do things right," we are unintentionally creating shallow human beings. The question of "why" should be of utmost prominence in all that we communicate instead of "how", "what" or "when." It's not enough for a child to refrain from lying. If the child doesn't understand why telling the truth is important and how lies affect others that long lasting character development will not stick. 

What do you think?

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