Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

When and Why Do Our Heroes Fall?

Well, it looks like Lance Armstrong's explanations have run out. He appears to be guilty of doping during the years he was winning cycling's greatest race. A lot of us have been let down again, haven't we? I used to live in Austin, Texas, Lance's hometown. Ugh.

And while many will still support him and others will want him crucified, I plan to do neither. But it is worth a look at why our heroes fall so much of the time and how we should respond. What can we learn that puts it all into perspective and reminds us of what is really true?

I mean how many times will we have to sigh huge sighs when another Tiger or U.S. senator or famous minister or movie star takes a personal or moral dive? Probably lots because it will happen again and again. So we need to re-think some things about what a hero really is and the kind of role they should or should not play in our lives.

First of all, there is a place for heroes. They are good to have as long as we don't worship them. Heroes can give us healthy role models to emulate, standards to aspire to and the inspiration to work harder at what we want to accomplish.

But second, we have forgotten that heroes are human just like us. While many of them truly do amazing things and accomplish feats few will copy, they still mess up. They lie, cheat and even steal sometimes. They never were what we probably believed them to be: superhuman? invincible? perfect?  No, their humanity doesn't excuse their often pitiful behavior, but it shouldn't surprise us.  It wouldn't shock us if we initially assumed that they were just everyday people who just happened to be very disciplined and accomplished.

Third, popularity and fame are dangerous entities and the human tendency is to hold on to them no matter the cost. Once the seduction of being sought after, winning all the time and enjoying the myriad perks takes hold, it's difficult to admit anything that could force someone to let go of it all. It seems like Lance finally tired of the charade. Most people just eventually get caught in the act and have no choice. Either way it's ultimately better but there is always a fight and there are always consequences.

Fourth, we need to find and recognize better heroes. And the good news is that they are all around us. They are parents who love their kids even when times are tough, they are service men and women along with police and firefighters who protect us. They include people with disabilities and other challenges who persevere and live meaningful lives anyway. They are giving men and women who serve others in soup kitchens, ministries, churches and agencies out of love for their God and others.

Yes, while there will be others who we've deemed as heroes who will fall, we will be less disappointed if we remember that the ones typically given the title of hero are not. Most of the real heroes will never be famous or rich or write a book, star on TV or play in the Super Bowl. But once we find those genuine heroes, they will change us and be less likely to ever let us down.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Putting Some Healthy Limits on Technology

A popular big-city restaurant recently offered its customers a 5% discount on their meal tab if they would turn in their smart phone for the duration of their stay in the restaurant. Apparently about sixty percent of the customers have accepted the offer. And I have a hunch some very good things have happened during those meals.

I would guess that couples are talking to each other more. They are more likely to be engaging in each other's lives and learning things they should have known but did not.

I would think that families are having more fun together and coming up with special ways to enjoy the moments they have with each other before their food arrives. Children probably have time to tell stories about their day or week and parents have more opportunity to just enjoy the spontaneous laughter and insights their children initiate when talked to and listened to intentionally.

Who knows what other good results will happen but it sure seems like they will be worth it, much more than the five percent discount.

Of course, it's not that technology is bad. I love it. It keeps me learning,  helps me organize my week and to stay in touch with other important people in my life. But it can subtly steal relationship from us, especially during meals and other places where our family is together. I've often seen husbands and wives or dads and a child sitting in silence during their time together in a restaurant, focused on their phone or newspaper. When will they ever get that moment back?  Probably never.

When did phone calls, often inane comments on a website from friends and updates on sports scores become so necessary and important?  We live a lot of life as though we will miss something important and be scarred forever.

The biggest scars,  however, will be those left in children and spouses where a cell phone became more important than they were in the eyes of those they love. We are hurting ourselves and our families when we let the mundane take precedence over the eternal.

So maybe more of us would be wise to put the phone aside at key times during the day, especially when in the company of our family. Who knows?  You might even get a little something knocked off your bill?

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Myth of Having the Smartest Kids

Have you heard that the Baby Einstein products really don't help kids much? Yep, recent research shows that much of what they claim to do really doesn't happen and in fact can even hinder intellectual growth.

And to think that we might not have the advantages we thought we would have over other parents and their children?

Well, relax. It's probably not that big of a deal. Yes, we should do what we can to help our kids have a healthy learning environment, learn under qualified and able teachers and develop study skills that will assist them in getting the most out of their education

But perhaps this recent research is a good reminder that much of a child's learning comes from more foundational experiences than Baby Einstein, Sesame Street and preschool gymnastics. Let me suggest a few.

First of all read to and with your children. Healthy minds are still stirred and developed through creative imagination, regular practice and caring relationships. Too many parents these days have given over the pleasure and specialness of having time with their children exploring the world through books, pictures and stories.

Second, give them opportunities to play. Play is another arena where children have opportunities to creatively stretch their minds, think logically and solve problems. Just watching a video or TV program that does all that for them defeats the purpose and often steals learning from them.

Third, expose them often to the outdoors. Go hiking, exploring and even exercising outside where they can see the beauty of what God has made and the wonders of creation.  Take vacations where you stop and soak in an incredible mountain view, golden forest or powerful waterfall.

Teaching a child is a glorious experience, one that we dare not only relegate to games, videos and dolls. In fact, it's possible that we may be wasting our money in the stores and would do better to spend it doing more things together. Maybe Baby Einstein isn't so smart after all.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Don't Live LIfe With Tinted Windows

I live in Austin, Texas where the summer high averages in the mid to upper 90's. That means a lot of days can be well over 100. So like a lot of people who live in the south our cars are all air-conditioned, the stores keep the temperatures very cool and most of the car windows are significantly tinted to help maximize the cooling.

However, I've noticed something about tinted windows in automobiles. It makes it hard to see who is in someone's car. I remember not that long ago being able to wave to people I knew in parking lots and neighborhoods. But now the tinted windows keep me from knowing who is in that vehicle. I'm sure some people wonder why I don't wave when I'm only a few feet away.

Unfortunately, it's easy for us to live life as though we have tinted windows on us!  We can act like we really don't want people to see who we are, notice our faults and get into our challenging world. We'd much of the time just rather keep things nice, safe and to ourselves.

However, there are problems with living that way. Let me suggest a few.

First, we miss out on true intimacy and friendship with others. If we never bare our souls then we never enjoy the care, love and compassion another might show us. We keep things bottled up and it only raises our anxiety causing us to miss out on the understanding of another that we deeply long for inside.

Second, people miss out on seeing the real us. Instead they just get a facade. We may try to present ourselves as always together and happy but we know better. And frankly, others close to us really want to the real us, not the pretend one. In fact, all of us love to know that someone is struggling with many of the same things we are.

Third, we miss out on some of the growth that occurs in us when we're honest and open about our faults, limping and struggle. When we hide our stuff we don't give others the chance to help us get better, to see our blind spots and to take our skills and abilities to the next level.  God sees us as we are and He still loves us. Let others do the same.

So while sometimes we do need to protect ourselves in relationships, don't stay isolated. Let some people see into your life. They can help make you better, stronger and healthier. And when you do open yourself up you will probably help others. They probably need you too!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.