Category Archives: Content in Christ

Paying Ahead or Behind – Vocational Success

Seems like everyone has heard someone bemoaning their school debt. US News reports that the average college grad has more than $35,000 in school loans. That is a lot of money. Young families often struggle greatly under such a burden, and it puts tremendous pressure on a fledgling marriage. What if both husband and wife have loans? Trying to pay behind for “success” might be the greatest obstacle to their being able to attain it.

Now, picture raising your children with the mindset of paying in advance for success. They learn to make the most of their youth years. From twelve on up, they use their time preparing to be skilled adults while making a reasonable income in exchange for their time. This does not mean that they don’t have fun. They just find beneficial ways of having it. Instead of video games, they thrive on the enjoyment that comes from learning. Instead of hanging out with friends, they work out with siblings or dad or mom, which build strength and family relationships.

Soon they will seek the endorphins adult-type achievement brings as opposed to skateboards and amusement park rides. All choices involve a trade. Will they trade up or trade down for the value of their time? Likely, those trades will have great bearing on the value of their future vocational time. What their time is worth to others will directly correlate with how much time they will have available for their future family and serving the Lord.

Pay for success in advance.

“The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness;
but of every one that is hasty only to want” (Proverbs 21:5).

Loving “Dough” or the Maker?

It takes money to live, and sadly for many, money becomes their reason to live. “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” (Psalms 135:15). Food and procreation can have a similar hold on people’s lives becoming their joy, passion and primary purpose in life.

What really is your purpose with money? Is it to make you happy, to have fun, to eat, or …. is it a means that your Lord directs its use of to make a difference in the world? Everything is His, and He graciously extends the use of it to us for His purposes. “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalms 24:1).

A good way to self-evaluate the place your money has in your life is to analyze your budget. (Don’t have one? Make one and use it. Not having one is a pretty good indication of a likely problem.)

As you look at each category that money is spent on and how much, ask yourself tough questions. Is the Lord pleased and the One ultimately directing in this area? Is this selfish or wasteful? What place does giving have in your budget?

Unless money has its correct position in our lives we will struggle to be content in Christ and debt-free. Growing up years will have had a significant impact on your attitude about money. We can’t ignore the impact of our choices on shaping our children’s attitude toward money.  Are you committed to your children being debt-free?

Content in Christ: Debt Free – Time

God created time. Time used wisely coupled with God’s gracious provision, enables our children to be content in Christ. It is the universal bank account that puts everyone on the same level. We each have twenty-four hours a day to draw from and invest. At the end of the day, week, month, year, lifetime: what will we have to show for it?

It’s a trade, the most basic of all transactions. Read about successful people and men devoted to the Lord. I dare you to find one that squandered his time. When I was young, I traded my go-cart for a ball glove to a teenage neighbor. I mistakenly thought, “The go cart won’t run, so what good is it?” I didn’t value my go-cart as I should have, and I made a bad trade. Today, it seems, so many squander their time away on poor trades.

Some say that self-discipline/will power is the greatest predictor of individual success, even beyond intelligence. I certainly agree. However, in addition, I have to wonder if the driving force behind self-discipline might be how much a person values his time on earth. Possibly for Christians, the next step up is our level of desire to please our Lord in all things. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).

Will we teach our children to value their time? Productively using one’s time is vitally important in having the funds needed for life. That is foundational in being content in Christ and that is a powerful motivator for self-discipline. Learning to spend their time productively will provide dividends that those who spend their time on entertainment will not receive.

Follow-on thought for Dads.
We often receive e-mails from frustrated, struggling moms who are drowning in desperation. They know that their children are suffering from lack of a productive home and will have lifelong consequences as a result. They want to believe managing their lives is possible. Of those who purchase Managers of Their Homes, we know that some number will still needlessly struggle to be successful. The book is capable of helping them as it has tens of thousands of moms, but what is missing is their husband’s support. Many husbands don’t value time, a peaceful, productive home, and their family pays the price.

An example is bedtime/wakeup time (BTWT). We often hear how a husband likes to stay up watching the news or movies and won’t go to sleep nor get up at a consistent time. We have found over the years that BTWT is the single, biggest predictor of a mom’s success in managing her day. Yet, Dad won’t inconvenience himself to have the discipline to go to bed and get up when he should in order to be an example, leader, and help to his family.

Valuing time is critical to your children’s success. If you aren’t consistent with BTWT, I would encourage you that it is time to begin. Support your wife by being consistent. Your children’s futures are worth it. Don’t you agree?

Steve

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5:16

Content in Christ: A Biblical Understanding

I hope you are being purposeful about raising your children to be content in Christ. If it is just a desire and there hasn’t been any follow through, it might seem more of a wish, than a commitment. Your children are several months older now than when we began this series. Do you have any gains to “show” for this time?

There are several key aspects to consider which come after your example. (I don’t believe you can understate the power of your example.) Next, is the foundation of wisdom and understanding from God’s Word.

A Biblical understanding of God’s provision and overall plan of economy will come from daily time in the Word, in family Bible times, and personal time in the Word. As you read together, look for verses that are applicable and discuss them as a family.

You might also consider buying some highlighters (I love the Sharpie Gels: the link is from Amazon, see our affiliate policy here), and have everyone highlight verses that apply to the particular study. Then there will be rich opportunities to discuss how those passages are applied to life needs. Whenever they reread highlighted verses, it will be a clear reminder of God’s provision. “To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:2-4).

For example, we just read Matthew 14. Notice how verses 13-21 have great application to this topic. You will be surprised how much God has to say about this subject once you start discussing and highlighting. Look for verses regarding stewardship, giving, money, time, vocational skills, borrowing, and lending. You may have more topics that you feel apply as well.

Steve

Content in Christ: Daily Opportunities

It would be a good time to remind ourselves that the goal of this series is to encourage those parents who are committed to raising children who will want to live debt-free. As we learned, it is far better to be content in Christ than to just be debt-free. Will your child trust Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, to provide for all his needs. Can you imagine what a blessed start in life that would be? Don’t you wish you had had that?

Let’s get real about something. There is no quick-fix, silver-bullet. First there is the heart-work that must be done in a life, which involves a real relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and experience in trusting in His provision. Then we build on that through teaching moments.

This week Teri and I drove to a meeting 5 hours away. Teri’s mom loaned us her car. As I drove that car, I found myself thinking how nice it would be to have a car like that. It was such a pleasure to drive. Teri and I had to remind ourselves that our 2004 Honda Civic is a very reasonable car that gets us around economically. God has provided for all of our needs. He is faithful. Will I rest in His provision or covet in accordance with my wants?

I’m confident you will have daily opportunities to teach your children what it means to be content in Christ. Teach by example that the Lord provides for our needs, not our wants, but there are times that He even blesses us with our wants. That is even more exciting! Praise Him for all those provisions.

Be faithful to continue your weekly meetings and look for weeds in your children’s lives. What are you seeing and what is your remedial plan?

Steve

“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3).

Debt-Free Series: Meetings

My son, Jesse, used to mow our lawn. Then I took over mowing from Jesse and began noticing  weeds in the yard. When I wasn’t mowing, I didn’t see them, but once I started spending time with the lawn, there they were! The first step in getting rid of weeds is being aware that you have them.

I recommend you look closely at your children’s lives. Listen to them. How do they spend their time? What excites them? Observe. What “lights them up”? As you do this, you will likely start to see weeds in their lives. Our definition of weeds in the content-in-Christ yard— “activities that consume time or money that are not beneficial or edifying.”

It is amazing how little time many (most?) dads spend with their children. In Keeping Our Children’s Hearts we describe weekly meetings. If you aren’t having dedicated, purposeful, weekly, one-on-one talking time with each of your children, I plead with you to begin. Next to family Bible time, it’s the best investment you will make in their lives.

Weekly meetings will help you experience a genuine heart-connection with your children.  You will also develop a hearing with them because as you share, they will listen. They may not automatically accept difficult challenges from you, but the beginning point is for them to hear your heart. This is critical to being able to redirect their hearts, time, and money. The first step, though, is recognizing the weeds.

“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;
but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life
everlasting” (Galatians 6:8).