In his book, When Work and Family Collide, Andy Stanley comments on how he wishes there were little gauges on his kids. Cars have gauges and they are cut and dried, simple and helpful! You know when the gas is low, when the engine is about to overheat or when a door is ajar. But, in our relationships, those gauges are just not there. We must seek to find out what they are thinking.
To accomplish this, Stanley said he would ask a series of questions a couple times a week to his young children. In doing this, he was able to get a pulse on what they were thinking about.
Here’s his list of five questions:
- Is everything ok in your heart?
- Did anyone hurt your feelings today?
- Are you mad at anyone?
- Did anyone break a promise to you?
- Is there anything I can do for you?
The fourth question is especially good because too often, our quick responses, without thinking, sound like promises to young kids. “I’ll think about” or “someday soon we will” or other similar quick quips parents have in their arsenal of responses, sound like a commitment to a kid who longs to spend time with us and have our approval.
You may not need another list of questions, or you may want to add to these to change them up now and then, but you do need to slow down long enough to check your family’s vital signs, as Andy Stanley puts it. One great time, at least for kids, is before bed. In fact, there are three critical times to engage with your kids each day – and just before bedtime is one of them. Your investment in those little conversations will help uncover what they are really thinking.
As you talk a few moments before going to sleep, you will be depositing in their emotional bank accounts. It’s so important!
If you are having trouble balancing work and family life, which ministry leaders often do, pick up a copy of this small, 130 book and read it! Buy it here today.