All I needed to know about Leadership, I learned riding my bike!

Dr. Phil, Dr. Seuss, Dr. Spock, Dr. Dobson who is right? I mean each of them tell me they have figured out the best process for me to raise my children, resolve conflict at work and to share a great life with my wife.

Every magazine I read in the grocery check out line tells me they have a lock on relationships, on personal development, on how to manage my life. I wonder if there really is some formula for how to go about improving my stance with those I love, I manage and meet each day.

Somehow it seems that relationship, information, process, all work together but I am really not sure which one, in what order matters most. However, after looking at a zillion different improvement formulas I have come across one that just seems to make the most sense.

The process goes by the acronym R-CAPS and the letters stand for Relationship, Content, Accountability, Prayer and Structures. The process says that in order to grow myself or others that I must first develop a relationship that fosters trust and safety, then I can introduce content that is specific to what I want to achieve, accountability means to have people in place who care enough to help me stay the course, Prayer is asking God to intervene and sustain me. Finally it is important to have structures or situations in which to prove out and practice what I have learned.

father son bikeAs I think back to situations in which I really grew I see these elements in place. As I remember learning to ride my first bike I remember my dad holding on to the seat holding me up. I knew my dad was not going to let me get hurt, I mean I really trusted him. I also remember him telling me specifics about holding the handle bars in a straight line and remembering to pedal to maintain enough speed in order to not fall over. As I began to get the hang of things dad kept reminding me to “steer straight and keep pedaling” he kept me focused on what was important. Pray-you bet! Dad was asking the Dad of all dads to not let me get hurt. Finally, rather than just tell me about a bike, dad had me on a bike, in a safe place, practicing. When the time came to let go, I was ready and away I went.

Flash forward forty years and it is time for me to mentor a young friend. It seems that spending time with him, learning about him and his interests is the best way for us to develop trust and learn to believe in each other. Sure he wants to learn stuff, but I need to listen well and look for the signs to understand just what it is he really needs to learn. As I pay attention to what he says and observe his life I begin to understand just what content to introduce him to. Giving him information is not worth much unless I hold him to his promise to begin to use it. So much I cannot control, only God can know the depth of our hearts and minds, so I spend time speaking to God to ask for His protection and care for my friend. Finally, and often the hard part, is to find a specific activity that will let him use his new found knowledge.

Think about it. What good is it to learn about building a dog house if we do not actually try it out by building a dog house. By the way, dogs do not live in dog house theories they live in actual dog houses! Kids do not learn to ride a bike by reading a book, they learn to ride bikes by……riding a bike! And adults do not learn to mature and grow by just getting more information. Just like riding a bike, maturity takes practice, accountability and the right structures in which to try out what we are learning.

R-CAPS is a method that just makes sense. What is really cool is that it is a process that is over 2000 years old. It has been used on every continent and every nation in the world. The “process” book is well known and easy to find. The teacher, the most acclaimed “growth coach” the world has ever known. To learn more read about the R-CAPS method and the organization that developed it follow this link to the book MATURITY MATTERS.

Editors Note: We are reposting some of our blogs for you.  David Parfitt originally posted this article in 2011.  We think it is worth re-reading!

adult son leaving homeThis just happened too fast. Yesterday I was changing diapers and today I am buying sheets (extra long) for a dorm bed. My last child leaves in four weeks for college and the dreaded “empty nest” is right around the corner.

While I really don’t know where the time has gone, I do know I am so very grateful for the time I have had with my children at home. Sure, I wish I had done some things differently, made a few better choices, and spent more time with each of my children. I should have listened more and lectured less, and all the rest of the things on my regrets list. But truth be told, we haven’t done too bad. My children are able to think critically, act independently and take responsibility. They make good choices and are both helpful and useful to those around them. They love and respect their mom and even check in with their old dad on a regular basis!

I would like to take credit for this, but know I cannot. The truth is my wife and I chose, even before our first was born, to raise our children according to God’s direction and to share raising them with like-minded friends. We have prayed for them every day, deferred our “rights” to those God believes is right and sought the counsel, and support, of parents who went before us and raised great kids. We see parenting as both a right and a privilege and have worked at it every day. We are not “holy rollers” or “religious extremist” but we have taken to heart the Lord’s direction regarding love, respect, justice, grace, forgiveness, service, truth, work and a host of other life skills He teaches in His book, the Bible. Old fashioned? I don’t think so. Structured, balanced, honest, caring, trustful, fun and responsible–you bet! Proverbs 15:33 tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and that humility comes before honor. It’s a verse we have tried to live by.

Advice, I guess I have a little, but most of all I would say to just love people like Jesus did. Take the time to learn His leadership model and concepts and then just apply them to your life. The model is not complex, it goes like this: Spend the time to develop real relationships, share real world life skills, talk about ideas and concepts, hold those you love accountable for living what they have learned, pray (a lot), and finally, find situations for your kids to practice what they are learning.

Too often we talk about issues, concepts and ideas without a practical means of letting our kids try them out. Put them in the position to use their knowledge then spend your time catching them doing things right! Praise often, correct when needed, and continuously remind them of their incredible value and worth. Be a parent—every day.

I am not looking forward to the drive home after dropping my son off this fall. My heart is sad just thinking about it. I know he is excited, I know he is able, and I know he is ready. He, like his sister, will make a difference with his life. I say this with confidence because of the knowledge of his relationship with Christ. He knows the truth and he knows how to live truth. However, I will miss having him around. I have come to value his opinion and to enjoy his sense of humor and cutting the grass is going to take a whole lot longer. I remember the same sense of loss dropping my daughter off three years ago. But, it’s not about me…it never was. It is their time to grow and shine, and my time to cheer them on!

The issue is really all about maturity. Growing our children (and ourselves) is the goal and there is a plan that works! If you would like to learn more about parenting according to Jesus Christ’s model of leadership (we call it RCAPS: Relationship, Content, Accountability, Prayer, and Situations or Structures) click here.

I welcome your comments about releasing your children. Please comment below and share your experience, challenges and advice.


Originally Posted on JULY 16, 2012.  This was so good we thought it would be good to read again!

Emotional-IntelligenceYou’re in the grocery store with your 4 year old, in a hurry, stressed. You have to buy something for dinner, and get home to cook it fast so you can take your 9 year old to soccer practice. You had a bad day at work. Right in front of the check-out counter, in that wide area where all the other shoppers are standing and waiting to check out, your 4 year old flings a major fit. Yep, complete with yelling, falling on the floor and crying.

Your 11 year old comes home from school complaining about how nobody likes him, and he has too much homework. The bus driver accused him of doing something that he didn’t do and now he is getting punished for it. The school lunch was terrible, his teacher hates him and life is unfair.

Your 16 year old daughter wants to go to the school dance with a boy that you don’t know and you don’t know his parents and you just generally don’t want to release her yet. When you tell her “No” she cannot go, she yells at you that you are the meanest parent ever and stomps out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

How do you handle these scenarios? 

All parents have been, or will be, in similar situations. Times when it will be necessary to help your child deal with and handle his emotions. In order to do this, you, as a parent, will have to be able to deal with and handle your emotions.  (See Parenthood:Thing 1 and Thing 2  for more on your emotions.)

So let’s take a quick look at a concept that will be helpful to understand, Emotional Intelligence (EI). EI is a skill that we can learn and that we can teach our children.

If you have never heard of emotional intelligence before, listen up. If you have heard of it, here is a refresher course.

Simply defined, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand what we are feeling and why, the ability to manage our emotions, the ability to notice emotions in other people and the ability to use our emotions to relate to other people.

Research has shown that people with Emotional Intelligence skills are more successful in work situations, do better in school and have better relationships. Sounds like something we would all want for our children, right? Also, children with EI skills are more resilient when bad, uncomfortable or unfair things happen to them. Which they will in this world.

We learn EI skills by relating to other people. As parents, we have a huge opportunity to model and teach these skills to our children. So with that in mind, here are four basic ways that we can help our children become more emotionally intelligent.

  1. Be available and accessible to your child. When relating to your child treat him with respect, develop empathy for him and model assertiveness.
  2. Help your child identify and name his feelings. Sometimes a child won’t even know what he is feeling. When you as a parent are empathetic, you can guess what he might be feeling and give it a name. Children need to have a good “emotion words” vocabulary.
  3. Encourage your child to talk about his feelings. A child needs to know it is okay to talk about feelings, both good and bad. This will help him to not be a “feelings stuffer”.
  4. Validate your child’s feelings. In other words, let him know that it is okay to feel whatever he is feeling. Then, help him express his feelings in healthy ways to the right people.


Using these skills with your child will help him feel good about himself and his world.  And when a child feels good, his behavior is less likely to be bad.


So consider this…..

Do you understand your own emotions well enough to help your child understand his?

Are there ways and times when you have noticed that relating to your child in an emotionally healthy way has been beneficial?

Since God created us as relational beings, wouldn’t it be wonderful to help your child be able to relate well to other people (especially you!)?

For more on this and a great read for anyone with children, I recommend Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman.


“When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles

and the bottle’s on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles…

…they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle

bottle paddle battle.”

From Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss



Isn’t this sometimes how being a parent feels?

Don’t you sometimes wonder how to cut through the deluge of advice and information?

Especially, in the day-to-day activity of living life as a parent?


Below we offer a few goals to consider that might simplify your thinking.

Almost any job we have at any point in our life encourages us to set goals. Every school we attend has goals for us to reach. As adults, we usually have goals, both big and small, that we would like to accomplish. Sometimes my goal for the day is just to get out of bed. And maybe get dressed. Later on.

When I think back to my early years of being a parent, if you had asked me what my goals for my children were, I would probably have said “Oh, I just want them to be happy!” or “As long as they are successful at what they do!” How many of us have said that at one time or another? I think probably quite a few.

I am not suggesting that happiness and success are bad goals, but they are kind of vague. Well, actually they are very vague. Ensuring our children’s happiness as a goal is pretty unrealistic. And how do you actually measure success? And are happiness and success really that important to live your life well?

As we know, hindsight is usually 20-20 (my children are grown) and our life experiences can definitely change our opinions. So with that perspective in mind, here are four goals for parenting derived from slogging through the trenches as well as thinking and listening to God.  Hopefully, this list will be an encouragement for those of you still in the parenting game.

1.  We need to prepare our children to love and to be loved.

Wow, that is different from wanting them to be happy, isn’t it? Notice the action verb “prepare” in this goal. This implies that there are some actions we can take as parents. So, how do we actually do this, prepare our children to participate well in the act of loving? The best answer is found in our previous parenting blog 

If we are attempting to love God well, love others well, and understand ourselves well, we will most likely model love to our children on a daily basis. This prepares them to love and to be loved. I like to think of this as the “grace” goal.

2.  We need to teach our children to follow rules and set limits.

This is pretty self-explanatory. To get along in the world we need to understand that wherever we are, there will be rules. If a child understands that the rules are for his protection, he may be more inclined to obey (although he will rarely let you know this by his actions). Children also need to know how to protect themselves by setting boundaries. As children grow, they should be taught to set appropriate boundaries. Parents can model this behavior for their children by the way they interact with rules and set personal boundaries. I like to think of this as the “truth” goal.

3.  We need to empower our children to perform the daily tasks of living.

What this means is that over time we transfer power to our children. To do this, a parent must understand a little bit about age-appropriate activities and a lot about their child’s own unique personality. Empowering children involves exploring solutions, having faith in your child and letting go. When we help children explore solutions and make their own decisions, it gives them the message “I can do this!” I like to think of this as the “anti-entitlement” goal.

4.  We need to prepare our children to make a decision to follow Christ.

As followers of Christ, and as parents, one of our greatest desires is to see our children become true, devoted followers of Christ. This requires input from several different sources. We need to involve our family within a community of believers so that our children will have various Godly adult influences in their lives. We as parents need to provide spiritual direction and guidance for our children. This means that we must be continually growing and learning in our own relationship with Christ. And of course, we need to daily model our faith, to reflect the image of God to our children. Most adults form their conception of how lovable they are to God based on how lovable they were to their parents. I like to think of this as the “Supreme” goal.

I think that striving for these basic goals for our children and achieving them in some measure, might actually lead our children to happiness and success the way God might define those terms.

Stay tuned for some thoughts on how to implement these goals.



What are some ways you have empowered your children?

What are some of your experiences with preparing your children to follow Christ?

What have you seen other parents do that worked? Or didn’t work?


Recently I have been reading a book with my wife by Eugene Peterson called Like Dew Your Youth.

Growing up with your teenager. I was really hoping to find a book that would be titled something like 3 easy peezy steps to fixing your adolescent. Fortunately, Eugene Peterson’s experience as a pastor, teacher and parent helped me get past “I hope I will be able to survive the teenage years” to “I wonder what God is going to do in me through this process.”

Here are three things from Peterson’s book to remember that might make you a better parent and keep you growing while walking through the adolescent years with your teen.

1. Adolescence is a Gift to middle age.
Peterson makes the point right off the bat as he reminds parents of the experience of a new baby.

“At the very time in life (young adulthood) when it is most easy to suppose that we are in control, that the world owes us a living, that through our education and training we have reduced our environment to something manageable – at this time God gives us a child of God, so we may experience a renewal of the prerequisite condition for entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:1-3).”

This new baby provided a way for parents to grow not only as parents but to see greater spiritual insights as well.

“But the adolescent, though not so obviously, is no less a gift of God. As the infant is God’s gift to the young adult, so the adolescent is a gift to the middle aged. The adolescent is “born” into our lives during our middle decades.” During this time, many face stagnation or see outward success but inner dryness.

“And then God’s gift: in a rather awkward packaging of the adolescent, God brings into our lives a challenge to grow, testing our love, chastening our hope, pushing our faith to the edge of the abyss.”

I think most of us focus on the wrong thing. We miss the gift.

2. Adolescence is not a problem to be solved but is an experience to be entered into!
Peterson says we should “Embrace the experience offered…as a gift of God, a means of grace… to mature into ‘wisdom and favor with men and God.’ This isn’t easy and doesn’t preclude pain or bewilderment, it usually includes it.”

“But God-ordained means of grace, regardless of appearances, and any feelings we might have toward them at the time, get us to the end that God intends for us, in this case the ‘measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’”

Just as the life of the Christian is to be a place for growth, God in his wisdom uses this time of life to change us as well!

3. This is a whole new world so be prepared to change and do it in community!
“Prior to adolescence, parents are used to being in nearly total control of their children. They are both stronger and wiser during those years.”

“New ways of sharing strength and new ways of communicating insight are needed. In order that we may function adequately as parents to an adolescent, new skills have to be developed. But they are not the parenting skills that can be packaged and purchased, they are the skills of being a person, which are only developed in a community of persons who share a common task and rely on a common faith. The worshipping church provides this community.”

Sorry, not even reading this book will solve this problem; learning and growing to parent teens can’t be packaged and downloaded as a new ipad app.

No one will do this alone. Dads need other Dads who can share and lament together! Older Dads need to help younger Dads. The same is true for mothers, but I mention Dads since we normally don’t do this!

Remember this process isn’t about changing your child; they will and are in the midst of changes: physical, emotional, and spiritual. What I need to remember is that I’m not finished growing either!

Where to go for help?
1. Learn about growing from WDA.

WDA can help you figure out what growing up looks like! Everyone needs to mature to Christlikeness. The principles of discipleship follow closely with the new role of parenting a teenager! We learn to come alongside, we take time to build relationships, we evaluate where they are going and we call them to walk with us as we walk with Christ. Read our Blogs on Maturity.

2. Get connected with other parents, talk to the other parents in your church or neighborhood.

3. Find some resources that help.

Growing Spiritually Pocket Principles from WDA

Growing Spiritually Blogs

Like Dew Your Youth – Eugene Peterson

Boundaries with Teens – John Townsend

How Children Raise Parents – Dan Allender


Where do you see most parents get stuck parenting their teens?
What are some of the ways you are being challenged to grow?