Responsibility Matters

24 07 2016

When a 16-year-old boy crashes his dad’s car and is arrested for driving while intoxicated, who is responsible?

When a 10-year-old boy is morbidly obese from an addiction to food, who is responsible?

When an infant girl is diagnosed with a genetic disease, who is responsible?

The questions are simple, but the answers are complicated.



noun   re·spon·si·bil·i·ty  \  ri-ˌspän(t)-sə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ 
  • : the state of being the person who caused something to happen

  • : a duty or task that you are required or expected to do

  • : something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.


Blame is one thing. Full responsibility is another. Let’s start with blame.

  • Who is the person or group that deserves the most blame?
  • Who else directly contributed to this problem?
  • Who or what indirectly contributed to the problem?
  • Was there any culpable negligence involved?

In the movie, The Big Short, we learned about who was to blame for the housing and banking crisis that kicked off the Great Recession of 2007-2009. You remember that little thing that nearly dismantled the American economy? Most likely, you or someone you care about was deeply hurt by that economic crisis. Millions of innocent people lost something major: job, home, retirement money, savings, home equity, credit rating, etc. And every American felt the stress of it all. The movie went to great lengths to explain who was to blame, and in the end, the fingerprints of blame were found throughout the economic world: some big banks, lots of mortgage brokers, the SEC, the ratings agencies, hedge fund managers, and even some legislators, reporters, and consumers. There was no single bad guy with a black hat or swastika to blame, but rather there were systems of corruption that created wealth for a few with accountability to none. And it was their systems that caused a meltdown in the economy.


The one thing they all had in common was a lack of responsibility. So many were behaving irresponsibly. Sure, some admitted some level of blame, but nobody stepped forward to fix the problem until it was far too late.

Identifying the cause(s) of a problem is one thing: Who did it? How did it happen? But it’s another level of responsibility to fix the problem. That is real responsibility. Who cleans up the mess? Who will work and pay for restoration?

Blame vs. Restoration

Read the rest of this entry »

Thank You & Help Me

26 06 2016

“Thank you.”


These are the best prayers. Simple. Versatile. Powerful.

There are no better ways to relate to God than these tiny sentences. Whether whispered in earnest or shouted in excitement, nothing works better in attempting to communicate with the divine.

“Thank you” and “Help me, please” are also the best ways to relate to other people. Universally, people like other people who are grateful and humble. It’s not mere politeness. When you thank someone or ask for their help, you are connecting with them and affirming them, and they are very likely to reciprocate. It’s the spark and the fuel of real relationships.

Simple. Real. Honest.



Start your day with thanks and an awareness of God and others. Then teach the children in your life to do the same. It will yield health, happiness, and a better world. Remember that you must do it first, for children are much better at following your actions than your words.

–  What can I be particularly thankful for today?

–  What is something that I normally take for granted that is worthy of thanks?

–  What is something I need special help with today?

–  How can I show appreciation to someone today?



Character Matters Sooner Than Later

15 02 2016

Teenagers may think that the middle and high school years don’t matter much, and that having fun is paramount. Or they might think that making good grades, making the team, or being popular is what matters most. Those are common viewpoints held by teens and by the culture at large.

Everybody has their value system, but here is a different way of looking at the teen years. We’ve all heard that the teens are building character, one mistake and life lesson at a time. Let me put it a different way: Teens are building a reputation right now, and that reputation will follow them, unfair as that may be.

If I could speak to every 7th grader in the world, I would say something like this:

“Kids, listen up. Who you are right now in school does matter, and here’s why. Who are you are now is how others will remember you 20, 30, even 60 years from now. It’s a snapshot etched in their memory. It may not be fair, but it’s a fact. People will remember what kind of person you were, and it’s that lens that they will see you through, until you are able to replace that lens, which takes a lot of time. Read the rest of this entry »

(Un)Happy Holidays

30 12 2015

The Holidays — the six weeks of Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Years — are a magnifier. In general, happy people get happier, sad people get sadder, lonely people get lonelier, etc.

For some, life is going pretty well, and the holidays are the most wonderful time of year, chock full of sentimental decorations, music, food, smells, and traditions that celebrate love, peace, family, friendship, and all that is good in life. The holidays are the icing on a good cake. Bring it on. All of it.

For others, the holidays are not so happy. Instead, it is a time full of the most painful reminders of what is not present in their lives.  Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrating Our Families Online

14 12 2015

DSC05328 copyMy boy had a great soccer season this year as a junior; the kid can flat-out run, and he loves to fight for the ball. He was voted by his teammates as Hardest Worker on the team and will be a captain next year. More importantly, he’s an A student and is enjoying his teachers. He loves to play electric guitar, and he’s really funny when you get to know him. He’s a renaissance man. He makes us proud in the way he goes about his business every day.

IMG_4381And then there’s my girl. She’s pretty special too. Everybody loves her, and that’s not an overstatement. She loves her high school classmates, and they love her. She gets high fives and hugs all day long. She smiles as much as anyone I know and loves to tell jokes to anyone who will listen. All of her teachers adore her; even the school’s security guard says she brightens his every day. She is kind, loves to share, and totally digs just being herself, especially when she is playing in the marching band or doing her thing in theater class.
Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.06.31 AM

My wife deserves the credit for those two. She’s the real brains of the operation at home. She genuinely cares for people, and they sense that immediately. I wish I had her way with people. Plus, she’s smart and incredibly hardworking. It doesn’t hurt that she’s naturally pretty. She doesn’t need any makeup or a hairdo to look great. I think it’s her smile that’s so attractive. Or maybe it’s her ability to talk with anyone about anything in such a way that they feel important. I marvel at her.

Too much? I would think so, if I were reading this from someone else. At times, I hate when people humble-brag like this.

It’s that time of year when our mailbox is full everyday of glowing family photos and newsletters. Facebook is aglow with beautiful pictures and sentiments of family bliss. Everywhere you go, there are people you know, walking in a Winter Wonderland of happiness and family togetherness. It’s just too much sometimes.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Social Combat of Being 13

12 10 2015

A New World Order for Young Teens

tired stressed girl7th and 8th grade is when the social life of a child amps up in three ways: importance, intensity, and consequences.

At 13, a child’s social standing becomes extremely important to them, as it has become more important to all the other 13 year olds. For some, it is the most important aspect of life itself. Most teens would rather go without food and shelter than suffer any sort of social trouble.

At 13, a child’s feelings of insecurity, awkwardness, and fear are at an all-time high. The hormones are raging, the insecurities are constant, and the emotional swings are intense. The biggest concern of every day is how to get through that whole day without any public embarrassment. Their fears are fueled by the intense anxieties of their peers. It’s a sea of fears as far as the adolescent eye can see. Read the rest of this entry »

The Work Hards

3 10 2015

There is a strange insult on youth athletic fields these days.

“Don’t be such a Work Hard” is a slam that is meant to mock the hardest working players at practice. In most cases, it’s more a tease than a direct insult, but we all know that “I was just joking” is no joke.

GH_FBALL_2_1“Yeah, he’s a Work Hard” is meant to discourage the sort of aggressive play that requires extra-hard running, physical contact, and mental intensity. It’s a sarcastic swipe at the up-and-comers. Often it comes from the older or starting player who is feeling the pressure of a younger harder working player. It’s a way of saying, “Dude, take it down a notch. It’s just practice. Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.” In most cases, the coaches are not aware of it because it is said out of their earshot. 

This attitude of entitlement and laziness has no place in youth sports. It’s an insidious message to young kids that says, “Talent is better than effort. Hard work is just annoying.” It’s an elitist attitude that says, “Hey, back off, this is my position on the team. You aren’t entitled to it. Your extra effort reveals your lack of talent.”  It represents all that youth sports should NOT be about. Read the rest of this entry »


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