I was having a conversation with a friend over at Dad-Blogs. We were discussing the negative tone in politics when he said (paraphrasing),
“I just want what’s good for our country. I want to be able to HOPE again. I don’t care who the president is.”
It made me think for a moment. We have lofty expectations for our leaders. It is easy for us to criticize from afar, but take no action on our own. It is simpler to live our lives in a vacuum rather than actually doing something. I am proposing that we indeed, do something to become better citizens (and better parents in the process). Here are a few of my thoughts:
- Serve others sacrificially. There is no better gift that you can give than the gift of serving someone else. The practice of servant leadership is deliberate and meticulous, but the reward is great. If you teach your children the principles of serving others (not submitting to others), this can be their greatest inheritance.
- Let your “Yes” mean “Yes and your “No” mean “No”. Say what you mean and stick to it. Be honest with others and don’t make promises you can’t keep. A person’s word garners more lasting respect than his signature. Teach your kids that lying is an act of cowardice.
- Give freely. No matter how bad things might be for you, I guarantee that someone has it worse. Giving with an open heart opens the door for more blessings to come your way. Have your kids learn to give with you.
- Get Engaged in the Process. Run for office or support your favorite candidate with actions. Write to your representatives or learn to protest peacefully. It is easy to complain about the process, but much harder to do something about it.
- Debate with facts, not insults. If you have to resort to insults when defending your point, you have already lost the argument. Learn the art of persuasion through valid arguments/
- Make your criticisms constructive. Following the previous suggestion, make sure that your criticism leaves the other person with something positive to work towards. This goes a long way towards not raising our children to be nasty and hurtful individuals.
- Follow the Golden Rule. Ask yourself if you want to be treated the way you treated the last person you came in contact with. If the answer is “no”, make amends.
- Practice what you preach. Our kids are too smart to follow the ‘do as I say and not as I do” philosophy. Your neighbors and your community will also admire your leadership in this area.
- Love unconditionally. Easier said than done, but certainly worth doing.
- Avoid mediocrity. Be the best at whatever it is that you do. Don’t settle for average. If you demand excellence on yourself, then you have removed many of life’s limitations.
- Humble yourself. Christians believe that the least among us will be the greatest in the Kingdom. How can you apply this in your life?
- Talk to your kids. Really talk to them. Challenge and engage them. They are thinkers and want to share with you. Give them the opening to do so. Teach them what you know. They will live the values that you instill in them and become better citizens in the process.
- Don’t be a sheep. Be a leader. There is a time to follow and a time to make a decision. Be on the decision-making side of life and impact your community.
- Encourage someone. It amazes me how genuinely kind words leave such a lasting impression. You never know who needs to hear something good about themselves.
- Learn something new everyday. Beer and inactivity are two destroyers of the grey matter. Since I know you’re not giving up the brew, make it a point to constantly challenge yourself in a wide area of subjects. Knowledge has the ability to enrich your life.
- Be a Change Agent. Facilitate change and be open to it. Those who don’t tend to be left behind.
- Be a Producer, not a Taker. Figure out your way to contribute to society. Art, music, writing, and public service are a few of the ways that you can be a producer.
- Celebrate Freedom. We live in the greatest country in the world. We need to act like it more often.
- Take responsibility for yourself (and at least one other person not in your family). Don’t depend on the government or anyone else to take care of you. Don’t blame others when things don’t go your way. Only you can decide your future if you choose to own it. Seek out someone else and invest in their lives.
- Be Accountable to someone or something. Left to our own devices, our natures always manage to get us in trouble. It is important to have a check and balance system in your life. Hold people accountable and allow yourself to be held accountable.
- Admit your failings. We all have them. We cannot learn from them if we pretend they don’t exist.
- Learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t be so serious all the time. There is often humor in our own humanity.
- Self-worth comes from within. Let no one define this for you.
- Learn to agree to disagree. You won’t win every argument. Sometimes its okay to call it a draw.
- Pay It Forward. Give good things when goodness has been given to you. Refer to #1-24 of this post for directions on how to do this.
There are many items on this list that we all can do a better job at (including The Man). While this list is not all encompassing, it is a move in the right direction. If we learn to practice these simply rules, we’ll rediscover that there is hope, love, and a future for our kids and our country.
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