Posted tagged ‘helicopter parenting’

Helicopter Church Members

April 8, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           April 8, 2016

                                 

The term, “helicopter parents”, was first used in 1969 By Dr. Haim Ginott in his book Parents and Teenagers. Since that time the skies have been overpopulated with parents who hover over their children for a variety of reasons.

The interesting thing is that churches have helicopter members. These are folk who hover over programs, look for mistakes in the Sunday bulletin, pounce on perceived errors, and question the intelligence of the pastor and/or church leaders.

They think the Kingdom would not be able to operate without them, and even then believe the Kingdom could function more efficiently if God would just let them do it their way.

Helicopter church people come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders. Some contribute to a church by sitting in the same seat each week, and they also…sit in the same seat each week. They are the ones who simply critique. That’s it! They aren’t involved in ministry other then that. They see it as their calling…the ministry of correction! They time the sermon, check the scripture references for accuracy, and ration out their smiles.

Others hover over the pastor. They check his schedule, call him in the late evening and get annoyed when he doesn’t answer. Bottom line: They don’t trust him, just because that’s their right! They grab him every Sunday after the worship service and monopolize his time, even though they know there are visitors present that he would like to meet. They ask him why he isn’t doing certain trivial ministry details, and could care less about community outreach, the homeless, and world hunger. They are concerned that two of the rubber stoppers in the pew communion cup holders are missing, and indifferent about missing members who have been dealing with difficulties.

Then there are the helicopters who are loving and caring, but also smothering. They have good intentions, but don’t understand the boundaries. They look you in the eye with sincerity and ask you how you are doing, and after a response of “Fine”, they question it until the person begins to think that maybe she isn’t doing okay. They mean well, and would give you the shirt off their back, but often take it to an uncomfortable level. However, of the helicopter church members they are the ones who most resemble the people of the first century church.

Just as the term “helicopter parents” came into existence to define those who hover, the church also has those members who hover over any activity, program, function, or detail of the ministries involving their kids and youth. Mind you, there are some parents who “drop and shop”…dropping the kids off and going shopping for a while. But most parents are engaged in their children’s church activities in some way. The helicopter parents micro-manage. They are the “Dance Moms” of the church, sometimes seeing the teacher…the “Abby” of the classroom…as their adversary.

And finally there is the “helicopter pastor” who has his hand in everything and knows everything. He’s been called and ordained, and takes that as God’s authorization for him to dominate and dictate. The Sunday sermon is just one of the various ways he sermonizes each week. When helicopter church members fly in the same zone as helicopter pastors there is bound to be a mid-air collision.

Thus, a new skill set for the church is appearing. One that could be labeled “air traffic controllers”. Controllers guide the helicopters in moving in a safe direction. They discern possible crashes long before they happen, and chart new paths for those who are flying around. It is a special kind of ministry that almost all pastors have no clue about. Seminary education focused on homiletics, Greek, systematic theology, and pastoral counseling. It did not offer a class in “positive movement in ministry”, or “the guidance of agenda-dominated church members.”

In fact, the air traffic controller can rarely be the pastor. The pastor is more like the pilot of one of those helicopters with multiple propellers. He’s usually carrying a heavy load. The air traffic controller has to be trusted by those he/she is guiding. He must establish principles for people to fly by that will not be questioned, for, without a doubt, the hovering members will try to balk when they are told to keep moving.

The thing is…the church needs passionate people who are invested in the ministry. Those saints are to be encouraged, but there comes a point where being invested in needs to be differentiated from owned, and that is sometimes a messy separation.

The Pressure To Be Perfect

March 3, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        March 3, 2016

                                

A recent study out of England has concluded that parental pressure in many cases causes young athletes to resort to doping to enhance their performance level. Daniel Madigan, a PhD student at the University of Kent, writes that these “tiger parents” push their teenaged children to high levels of achievement. The athletes choose to turn to doping in order to meet their parents’ expectations and dreams.

The pressure to perform has been raised to now be a pressure to be perfect. I see it quite often in athletes who are more afraid of not meeting their parent’s expectations than letting their teammates down.

What now seems intolerable is failure! The reality, however, is that every game between two teams has a winner and a loser. The middle school boy’s team I’m currently coaching has won most of it’s games, but the other side of that is there are other teams who lose most of their games. Is that a bad thing? No, losing a game is just as much, and maybe even more so, a teachable moment as winning a game.

How often, though, do we look at falling short as total failure? “Falling short” is the reality of each of our lives. For some of us it surfaces in our athleticism, for others it appears in our school report card, and for others it becomes evident in the falling apart of our marriages or separation between ourselves and those who used to be close to us.

“Falling short” is part of our DNA.

Enter into that a reluctance to failing. Not a “Rocky” kind of perseverance, however, but a pressure to win that causes us to cheat, and fabricate, inject and falsify. Having perfect kids  becomes what parents press for, no matter the costs.

Little Johnny gets his own personal trainer who makes a living off “tiger parents.” The parents, however, expect Johnny to make them proud. They will not accept the fact that their son can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Johnny feels the pressure to perform and perfect and looks for that substance that will give him the advantage.

The pressure to be perfect is casting an ugly shadow over our schools and communities. Here’s the thing! Wherever there is some kind of unnatural or “unholy” pressure there will be an unhealthy reaction.

A high school junior gives up the sport he’s been playing since he was four because the pressure to be perfect has made the whole endeavor detestable to him.

A volleyball player suffers a major shoulder injury because she has overused the parts of her body that she spikes the ball with.

A student gets rushed to the ER because he has consumed too many high-caffeine energy drinks in his attempt to study for endless hours and hours in order to receive a 4.0 GPA.

A college student drops out of church, because his parents made him feel guilty all through high school if he missed any kind of church function. He began to think that God loved him only if he had perfect church attendance. Now he rarely goes, as he wrestles with this new thought of a God who is gracious.

The pressure to be perfect happens in just about any area of our culture, and it is often a very unhealthy experience.

Facebook Grandparenting

June 26, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  June 26, 2015

                                      

My good friend, Steve Wamberg, and I were sharing over coffee this morning about our grandkids. Steve has a four month old and my quiver is almost full with three. Grandparenting is exciting, and an excellent source for new sermon material.

Steve made the revealing statement that Facebook has become an excellent way of checking in to see how the grandkids are doing. Everyday…multiple times…my daughter and his son post pictures, videos, updated news, Christmas gift lists, and if all the grandkids are healthy that day on their Facebook pages. It’s like we can watch our grandkids grow up without being helicopter grandparents.

This morning I watched my newest grandchild, Corin Grace Hodges, talking to a stuffed animal that was dangling in front of her face. Last Sunday when she was dedicated in our morning worship service a posted picture on Facebook showed the displeasure of Corin’s big sister, Reagan, as I was saying the dedication prayer. Reagan likes to pray, and she was borderline pouting that I was leading it instead of her.

I’ve watched my grandson Jesse’s mugging of another boy in the midst of a Buddy Basketball game from last season. Jesse might tell you that he got all ball, which he did! The problem is he also got both arms and a couple of ribs with it!

Steve and I see Facebook grandparenting as being almost like a monitor camera in our grandkids’ lives that we can look in on. “What’s Jesse up to, I wonder?” Click…oh he’s reading Charlotte’s Web! Awesome!”

Understand  that Facebook grandparenting will never replace face-to-face and sitting-on-lap grandparenting, but it does keep us in the loop without being a pest.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be baptizing Jesse on a Sunday morning. I’m sure it will hit Facebook within ninety minutes of the event…and I’ll watch it and watch it. But even more awesome is the fact that our families in Illinois, Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, and Kentucky will be able to view it. call it Facebook “Uncle-ing” and “Aunt-ing” and other family relative terms.

And just so you know…Reagan said the prayer before lunch last Sunday. She was quick on the draw and left me in the dust. She’s a sly one! I have Facebook videos to attest to it!