Posts tagged “power of choice

Wintley Phipps says love is . . .

Wintley Phipps

Wintley Phipps and I have something in common – we both hail back to Kingsway College in Oshawa, Ontario. He attended there as a student; I got my first job as a new Physical Education teacher there in 1978. The things we have in common cease at that point. Even as a young academy student at Kingsway it was becoming obvious that he had a special ability to sing. And as most are aware, he went on to achieve worldwide notoriety with his amazing baritone voice. He has sung before six different U.S. presidents and countless others from the ranks of the important and famous. In spite of his own fame, he remains humble in his role as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and continually gives God credit for any good that comes from his voice or otherwise.

He came to Pacific Union College earlier this school year and blessed us with his message and his singing. The dude can sing, is all I can say! Anyway, during one of his messages he shared the following description of what love is, a definition, if you will, that seems to capture its essence quite well.

“Love is when you choose to be at your best when others around you are not at their best.”

This, to me, is a significant choice theory statement. Choice theory really is about love and belonging and connection, and love is really about choice. Having a feeling of love is great; savor it while it is present. More often, though, love is a choice. It is a choice, as Pastor Phipps reminds us, to show up at our best, with warm regard and compassion for others, with a desire for others to be successful, not because we feel like doing it, but because Jesus asked us to join Him in His quest to shower the world with love.

I hope I am not coming across like I have my act together when it comes to loving others. When others are not at their best it can be very difficult to not behave like that, too. How Jesus maintained His love and dignity during His trial and crucifixion, being so abused, is beyond me. Yet what an amazing example of what is possible for us through His Spirit! As I have said before, choice theory does not make us perfect. It provides insight into our behavior, but that is all. Insight like that is no small thing and I appreciate choice theory because of that. Choice theory supports the choice to love; the desire and power to love comes from the Spirit and He Who is Love.

Influence vs Control

Your comments regarding the 7 Worst Things Good Parents Do got me to thinking. I was drawn to #7 – Expect your child to fulfill your dreams as an important one on which to comment, but now I see that each of them might be instructive under the choice theory microscope. We’ll do one at a time so that it won’t take (Tom) so long to read. Add your comments to fill in ideas that I leave out. Let’s start with #1 – Baby your child.

The 7 Worst Things Good Parents Do

1. Baby your child.

Providing support and guidance, and certainly exerting supervision and control when it comes to safety issues, is necessary and appropriate. We wouldn’t let a three year old cross a busy street on his own, even if he pulled his hand away from ours and insisted that we leave him alone. We would grab his hand right back and keep him from running into traffic. There is a difference, though, between appropriate supervision and overprotective babying.

Often the difference has more to do with our need for control than it does with the needs of our children or students. Choice theory is based on the idea that every human being is guided by an internal control mechanism. We were created with free will, an incredible attribute that God has gone to incredible lengths to preserve, and, by extension, have been given the power, and the responsibility, to make choices. God values our freedom a great deal.

With this in mind it becomes clear that children need to learn about this freedom and, as soon as possible, learn to make good choices. The teacher or parent who understands choice theory will want to wean children from their control, rather than seek to perpetuate their control. Our goal is to fit our children for healthy lives, not because we are controlling their decisions, but because they are making good choices even when supervision is not around. We want them to be self-supervisors, right? (Think of Jochabed preparing Moses to leave home at 12 years of age.)

The paradox here is noteworthy. The important thing is influence. To have influence with our students or children is what we really want. Yet the more we attempt to control children, the less influence we have with them. There are too many well-meaning parents who have literally fought to control their children, to supervise at every turn, to oversee every event, threatening and punishing all the way, only to lose the thing they want most – influence. (When I visited my mother when she was living in a retirement center, I would hear stories from her about how some of the residents’ children – the children being 50 and 60 years of age – would have nothing to do with them, would never come to visit them, still angry about how they are continuing to be treated by their, by now, aged parents. A controlling spirit can last a long time.) The important thing is to stay connected. No matter what – stay connected. Because as long as you are connected to your kids, you have influence.

2. Put your marriage last.

3. Push your child into too many activities.

4. Ignore your emotional or spiritual life.

5. Be your child’s best friend.

6. Fail to give your child structure.

7. Expect your child to fulfill your dreams.

Friel, J. and Friel, L. (1999). The 7 worst things good parents do. New York: Barnes & Noble.

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