Raising Kids with a Growth Mindset

Honestly, it's tempting to tell my daughter how smart she is and how special she is to me.  After all, being a father is one of the things that I enjoy most about life. She and I are also extremely close. However, I don't want to look back when she's an adult and wish I had prepared her better for the challenges and successes of life.  

Raising Kids with a Growth Mindset

Our life is not without its challenges, but we have been truly blessed.  My wife and I have great jobs and we have very little debt (that should be paid off within three months of publishing this post).  As a result, there are few material things or experiences we can't provide for our daughter.

Having "made it," our daughter won't have to struggle before adulthood, but that doesn't mean she doesn't need to struggle before adulthood.

While it's easy to frame this challenge of parenting as whether to spend money to make her happy (um, no), it's really a more complicated discussion about how to allow her to have a sufficient amount of challenge and learn to overcome those challenges.  While we could send her to a school where she would be labeled as one of the "smart kids," that wouldn't help her once she failed her first college exam or failed on her first job or business.  I should know, that's what happened to me.

I also grew up a child of privilege.  My parents, having grown up in poverty and segregation, made sure I would never have to endure the pain they went through.  Little did they know, there's pain just waiting for all us out there, but we need tools to overcome that pain when it comes.

I was the kid who won spelling bees and science fairs.  Learning was fun because I was good at it and I had role models that emphasized the importance of getting a good education.  I believed I was destined to become a physician like my uncles.  It was just a matter of time.

To my surprise, I wasn't going to become a physician after all.  As a result, I had no idea what I was going to do for several years afterward.  I could have spent my twenties building a career or a business.  Instead I spent my twenties clinging to what made me feel safe: school.   I found a new motivation in graduate classes.  Then I had career stints as a hospital administrator and graduate student Doug cancer research. Then the best thing sort of salvation happened to me.

I reconnected (another story for another time) with the woman who would later become my wife.  She had no breaks in her work history.  She didn't have a winding career and life path like I did.  She made logical moves from career station A to career station B.  It was clear I had found my Yoda and was in need of some serious Jedi training.

She had not had an easy life.  She, however, had overcome those challenges to become the leader in her field she is today.

Our life stories highlight the difference between the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.  As Carol Dweck described in the book Mindset, people with a fixed mindset believe that people either have intelligence or talent or they don't.  People with the growth mindset believe anyone can get better at anything with effort.  After reading this book, I'm on a mission to become a growth-mindset person, and that means being a growth-mindset parent.

I believe you want to be a growth-mindset parent too.

Why else would you have read this much?

To practice growth-mindset parenting, DO:

  • Praise effort and behavior
  • Reward effort and behavior
  • Provide constructive feedback on effort and behaviors
  • Discuss improvement over time
  • Help your kids learn from their mistakes 

To practice growth-mindset parenting, DON'T:

  • Praise outcomes alone
  • Reward outcomes alone
  • Tell your kid how great they are all the time
  • Tell your kid how bad they are

Part of becoming an adult is realizing that your parents did the best they could in raising you in most  cases.  Like my parents, there are some experiences I don't want my kids to repeat.  However, I don't want to shield my daughter from experiences that will help her better handle life's challenges.

  • How can you practice growth-mindset parenting?
  • How do you practice growth-mindset parenting?
Let me know in the comments!

Also, read Carol Dweck's Mindset for yourself.

Why You Need Grit

At some point in life, things will get tough.  We all face challenges.  How we respond to those challenges separates top performers from the rest of the pack.  Here are some life lessons from Grit
by Angela Duckworth.

Talent is overrated

Our culture is obsessed with talent.  We idolize athletes, singers, and actors.  We celebrate winners and troll losers on social media.  Naturally, when we are looking for someone to join our team, company, or school, we look for the most talented.  However, talent distracts us from the true indicator of success: grit.  Many times the most talented quit or fail.  Sometimes this is because they have been coddled because of their talent and not receptive to the feedback that will help them improve.  Other times they think they don't have to improve because they are so talented.

While grit might sound ambiguous or like a characteristic that some people have and others don't, fortunately, you can grow grit in yourself and others.

Elements of Grit: Interest, practice, purpose, and hope

If you (or someone you know) is going through a challenge, it will help if you can find something about the challenge that's interesting.  You may have to find an area of interest for yourself.

If you're familiar with the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, you may know that becoming an expert at anything takes about 10 years or 10,000 hours.  Grit is consistent with this finding, but adds a layer of challenge.  In high school, my coaches used to say "Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect."  It's not just spending time, it's working to improve during that time.

Put another way, I hope to be able to be able to run a mile and a half in 12 minutes.  I'm not there yet, but my times are improving.  I have to keep practicing, but I also have to celebrate each second by which I improve my time and push myself to shave off additional seconds off my time every day.  Seconds add up to minutes, after all.

Purpose is another important component of grit.  If you find purpose in what you do, you will keep trying when it gets difficult.  As an educator, I find purpose in making a difference in the lives of my students so I don't complain about the challenges that come with that responsibility.  I would think people who serve as soldiers, police officers, pastors, or fire fighters deal with the challenges of those jobs when they could make more money doing other jobs because they find purpose in their work.

Do have hope that things will get better if you keep trying? If you don't, you'll probably quit.  If you do, you're more likely to keep trying until you reach your goal.

Parenting for Grit

As a parent, I obviously want my child to be successful in achieving her life's purpose.  While it's easy to tell her how great she is all the time, I have to remember that doing so isn't really helping her to achieve that goal.  Going back to an earlier point, I need to encourage growth and effort instead of talent.  If she struggles in some area, telling her she's great is dishonest and not helpful.  In addition, I don't want her to learn that if she is not meeting the standard today, that she will always be below standard.  Also, getting her used to receiving positive feedback will help her improve.  I can can be supportive while still providing constructive and honest feedback.  That way she'll know what to do with feedback in the workplace or in school.

I can also help her develop grit by reinforcing the importance of keeping her commitments.  If she wants to join a team or participate in another activity, she will need to continue to do so when times get difficult.  This will teach her how to manage multiple commitments and manage her time effectively.

Build a culture of grit on your team or in your organization

If you supervise others, you can help your team members develop grit by providing effective feedback and a growth plan.  Also create a culture where growth plans aren't viewed as punitive.   You can also develop grit in people you don't lead through your influence by modeling and communicating principles of grit and growth mindset, which I discuss in a related post.

How do you handle life's challenges?

How do you develop grit in others?

Let me know in the comments.

Nine Ways to Use Facebook Groups to Increase Engagement at Your Church

Many social media managers have seen Facebook engagement decrease as the Facebook algorithm began to favor posts from individuals over posts from pages.  How can you turn this challenge into an opportunity for your church?  Answer: Facebook Groups!

Advantages of Using Facebook Groups for Your Church

1. Individuals join Facebook Groups instead of pages so Facebook's algorithm values the posts of group members.
2. Allows your Facebook Page to focus on turning potential visitors into visitors and guests into members while allowing your Facebook Group to focus on turning members into disciples.
3. Group members are notified of all group posts. Even if people follow your Facebook page, many of them will not see your posts.
4. Group members can create posts as well.

Ways Churches Can Use Facebook Groups

1. Distribute church announcements
2. Create Facebook events to allow people to indicate attendance and share with others
3. Post weekly prayer targets
4. Share Facebook page posts inside the group
5. Create Facebook Groups for small groups
6. Create Facebook Groups for ministry teams
7. Create Facebook Groups for church committees
8. Create Facebook Groups for pastors at the church
9. Post successes and celebrations involving church members

How does your church use Facebook Groups or other social media tools to increase engagement and promote discipleship?

Let me know in the comments!

Discipleship Dictionary

Discipleship Dictionary


The Church is God’s People (who we are) saved by God’s Power (what He has done and is doing) for God’s Purposes (the good works He created us in Jesus Christ to do) - wearesoma.org

The Church is the entire Body of Christ - not just a building, service team, worship service, or an individual local church. - Tony Edwards

Covenant Discipleship:

Based on John Wesley’s Bands and Classes, Covenant Discipleship Groups develop a group covenant and meet weekly to hold one another accountable to the General Rule of Discipleship and individual commitments to works of devotion and compassion as well as collective commitments to justice and worship. - Tony Edwards

A disciple is one who worships Jesus, is being changed by Jesus, obeys Jesus and teaches others to do the same - wearesoma.org

A disciple surrenders every area of life to the Great Commission and makes one’s entire life an act of worship and service to God and God’s people.  The mission field includes one’s work, family, friendships, and community service. - Tony Edwards

General Rule of Discipleship:

To witness to Jesus Christ in the world, and to follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. - Book of Discipline


Your personal resources.  This could be money or it could be other assets (land, vehicles, etc.). Robert Schnase describes our intended relationship with our resources to be one of extravagant generosity.  All of our resources come from God and we are entrusted as stewards, not hoarders, of God’s resources.  Ultimately, we should challenge ourselves to release more of our personal resources to make disciples of Jesus Christ. - Tony Edwards


The story of God. This story includes the themes of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.  The Gospel helps us understand who God is, what we did for us, who we were, who we are now after experiencing Jesus, and what we must do as a result.  God created our world, sent Jesus to earth to die on the cross for our sins and to be our Lord and Savior, and sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter and guide.  He did all this because He loves us in spite of our weaknesses, sins, and desire to make our own decisions.  God is the hero of our story.  We strive to understand and communicate our story in the context of God’s story. - Tony Edwards (adapted from wearesoma.org)

Great Commission:

Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” - Matthew 28:18-20 (CEB).

Make disciples:

Making disciples involves leading by example and mentoring others move to deeper levels of spiritual maturity by serving God with their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness in all areas of life. - Tony Edwards


The mission is the Great Commission - making disciples of Jesus Christ.  This is the mission of each believer in Christ, lay or clergy.  The mission is bigger in scope and longer in duration than a particular mission trip of church ministry activity.  The mission is a 24/7 mission that permeates all of our relationships and activities, including but not limited to typical church activities. - Tony Edwards

Missional Community:

A community of Christ followers on mission with God in obedience to the Holy Spirit that demonstrates tangibly and declares creatively the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a specific pocket of people (neighborhood, school, nursing home, gym, etc.). - Todd Engstrom

Missional communities make disciples of Jesus Christ through Bible study, social justice/activist groups, evangelism, small groups, support groups, weekly meetings, and church gatherings. Churches with missional communities exist not to bring people in for meetings, but to send disciples out to make more disciples. Members of churches with missional communities don’t go to church. Instead, they are equipped and empowered to be the Church in the lives of others. - Tony Edwards (adapted from Seth McBee)


Prayer is our opportunity to communicate with God. Prayer is our opportunity to remain in awe of God, thank God for what he has done, acknowledge our disobedience to Him, and ask for him to transform a situation.  You can pray alone, with a small group, or as a congregation. - Tony Edwards


We are not intended to walk with God alone.  You can’t make disciples without interacting with others.  Every member of the Body of Christ has unique spiritual gifts, and the Body of Christ needs your gifts to help us be more effective at making disciples.


Service is acting on the Great Commission.  This can happen inside or outside a church building, in a church ministry or small group, or a one-time ministry opportunity.  Service is serving the mission field to which God is calling you. - Tony Edwards


Any area of our lives that tempts us from submitting completely to God’s will. - Tony Edwards


Witness is accountable discipleship or evangelism.  Witness is being willing to talk about your journey to spiritual maturity and help others mature spiritually as well.  Witness is sharing your testimony and the Gospel in a natural way.  Witness is living by example.  Witness is mentoring a group of disciples. - Tony Edwards


Worship is living in amazement of God. In a world of smartphones, drones, and driverless cars, it’s hard to be surprised by anything anymore.  However, God is more amazing than any of these technological achievements.  Also, it’s easy to take God’s blessings for granted in a society where we are taught to believe that we accumulate resources based on our own efforts.  Worship is a lifestyle of gratitude for God’s salvation, love, acceptance, and provision. That’s amazing. - Tony Edwards


Attended church two or less times in the past twelve months. - Thom Rainer

Your LinkedIn Profile Checklist

Use this list to get your LinkedIn profile ready.  The more informative your profile, the easier it will be for employers to find you.

  • Intro

    • First Name
    • Last Name (add degree and certificate abbreviations after your last name)
    • Headline (Your current title or value proposition statement)
    • Current Position (title)
    • Education (default is most recent institution attended)
    • Country
    • Zip Code
    • Locations within this area (Dallas Fort Worth area, Fort Worth, etc.)
    • Industry (think broadly about what you do)
    • Summary (include keywords that will help potential employers understand what you do and find you more easily)
    • Media (links or uploads of your work, assignments, or projects)

  • Your Articles & Activity

    • LinkedIn Articles (reflections on your work, assignments, or projects)
      • Respond to others' articles
    • LinkedIn Posts (talk about leadership or work-related happenings at work or school)
      • Respond to others' posts

  • Experience
    • Work
    • Internships

  • Education

    • Degrees
    • Certificate programs

  • Volunteer Experience
    • Service projects

  • Skills & Endorsements
    • Skills: what you think are your strengths
    • Endorsements: Number of people who agree about your particular strengths

  • Recommendations
    • Instructors
    • Supervisors
    • Customers
    • Coworkers

  • Accomplishments

    • Publications
    • Certifications
    • Courses
    • Projects
    • Honors & Awards
    • Patents
    • Test Scores
    • Languages (employers love multilingual employees)
    • Organizations
      • Student Organizations
      • Community Organizations
      • Professional Organizations

Social Media Discipleship: 4 Tips for Creating Content People Will Share

Who are you trying to reach with your church's social media posts? Members? Future members? Both?  While you can use the same accounts to communicate with different audiences, you might consider creating different accounts to communicate with people at different stages of the discipleship journey.  For example, with Facebook you could have an inward-facing Facebook group focused on helping members grow as disciples.  You could then use your church Facebook page to focus on the people in your community outside your church.

From a discipleship perspective, church leaders should help members grow their evangelism.  One way to do this is through social media.  Your members likely want to share your posts, but may feel that they only appeal to members or may be more preachy than their friends can handle at the moment.  Many of your members and their friends probably face challenges.  As a church you could share content that can help them overcome those challenges.  Better yet, you could create the content and host it on your website or blog.  Here are some suggestions:

1. Make a list of challenges people face, including (but not limited to) anxiety, depression, debt, marriage, and parenting.

2. Use a title that will draw readers in, but not overwhelm readers who have limited biblical knowledge.

3. Show people how God's word can help people overcome their challenges.

4. Include a call to action for people to communicate their progress with your tips or subscribe to get more information from you by email.

Following these tips will help you create content your members will share so they can share God within their spheres of influence.  This will allow them to engage in conversations about God with their friends more comfortably and naturally.

What tips for social media evangelism would you add?

Let me know in the comments!

25 Ways to Share Your Witness within Your Sphere of Influence

Believe it or not, I don't think you need to shout from the rooftops or make all your friends feel awkward or ashamed to be an effective evangelist.  In many ways, I think evangelism is very similar to marketing. Not in the sense that we treat church like a business or people like customers, but I do think we can all more effectively communicate the message of Jesus Christ.  If done right, you can communicated a way that makes people want to ask you questions to learn about God rather than telling people who aren't ready or have no interest yet.  You can also grow  in your witness by starting within your sphere of influence and then expanding your sphere of influence.

Witnessing to Yourself 

  • Recite Scripture daily
  • Recite affirmations daily

Witnessing To Your Spouse

  • Pray in front of your spouse
  • Read the Bible in front of your spouse 
  • Talking about your faith with your spouse
  • Encourage your spouse to pray
  • Encourage your spouse to read the Bible
  • Encourage your spouse to discover his or her spiritual gifts and use them

Witnessing to Your Children

  • Pray in front of your kids
  • Read the Bible in front of your kids 
  • Talking about your faith with your kids
  • Teach and encourage your kids to pray
  • Teach and encourage your kids to read the Bible
  • Involve your kids in serving others
  • Help your kids discover their spiritual gifts and use them

Witnessing to Your Co-Workers

  • Let colleagues who confide in you know you will pray for them
  • Thank God for success at work
  • Start or participate in workplace Bible studies

Witnessing to Your Friends

  • Let friends know you are praying for them
  • Thank God for your friends' successes
  • Help your friends in need
  • Show your faith on social media

Expanding Your Influence by Witnessing in Your Community 

  • Find out your community's challenges
  • Get involved in your community 
  • Join a nonprofit board, serve on school board, and get more involved in church activities 
What other ideas do you have for sharing your witness with others?

How can you more effectively witness to those in your sphere of influence?

Leave a comment and let me know!