Learning to Fail

Posted on February 22, 2012 by Phil

My curse is that I’m good at everything. Before I go any farther, I want to be very clear. That last statement couldn’t be further from the truth. The problem is that my kids do see it that way. They are young enough to still believe the lie that Mommy and Daddy are good at almost everything. Well, not even just good at it all, but perhaps the best. At this stage in their lives, it’s not completely a bad thing. We are their heroes! And there is a part of this false truth that we secretly like as parents. But we also know that they have to know the whole truth- that failure is a real & important part of life. It was last week that my wife, Amy, and I were reminded at how important it is for them to know this truth.

Piper, our 5 year old, told us that she didn’t want to go to choir practice at church. She loved choir; but something changed. She broke into tears, desperate to get out of going. As we asked her why, her answer was almost funny. “They play games where people get out…. I didn’t win the game we played last week.” Wow, was she in for a rude awakening.

Had I really taught my oldest that she was the best at everything? Had I taught her that she will always win first place? Was I setting her up to be crushed by real life?

I struggle with this because I want her to know that I love her like she is the best. No matter what, I’ll be her biggest fan. This will always be my message to my daughters. But that is not all I had said.  I had led her astray.

She actually believed that she needed to win everything and be the best at everything. The more I thought about it, the more I saw that I’m not the only one feeding this lie. I know some schools that fail to teach kids to fail. There are even camps that have done away with competition. “Everyone’s a winner” is a dangerous game. The biggest reason? It’s not reality.

As much as it hurts, in real life, our children will fail at things. Just like we did and still do. I want to be a parent that teaches my children that it’s ok to fail and that there is a proper way to fail. Failing is an opportunity to learn, adapt, and move forward in an effort to succeed next time. Even if we fail again.

Here at Ridgecrest Summer Camps, we love our campers no matter what they do. If they win a game, or if they don’t win. When they don’t win, they have a safe place to grow and learn. This begins with games, but continues with social situations, with faith, and with dreams. Learning to fail is a crucial skill that we will use for the rest of our days here on earth.  We love standing beside our campers as they learn these life-long lessons.

And the more I learn about failing, the more grateful I become that my God, Jesus Christ, has already won the ultimate battle for me. I don’t have the worry about failing at life when I rest in His victory. Now that’s something I want to make sure my kids completely understand… His grace.

What are you doing to make sure your children have learned how to fail in a safe place?

Phil Berry
Assistant Director, Camp Ridgecrest for Boys
Father to Piper and Lily

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Conversation Starter: Purity vs. Sensuality

Posted on February 15, 2012 by Phil

walk in love, light, and wisdom

Family Connection

For Preschoolers

Tell your child that you love her. Tell her that you want to always be there to love and protect her. Talk about your favorite age-appropriate shows. Talk about how good these shows are. Let her know that part of your love for her will be to help her always watch things that are good for her.

For School-Age

Many older children attend sleepovers at birthday parties and other occasions. Explain to them that your values and standards concerning television and movies may be different than those at others’ homes. Help them learn how to deal with questionable content when they are away from home.

For Students

By this age your teens have seen the results of destructive decisions concerning sexual issues. Help them understand that remaining pure involves more than just an act, it means guarding from sexual content. By resisting the temptation to view explicit material, teens will curb destructive behavior. Go to for more helpful information from the True Love Waits Web site. Also review a number of earlier posts for parents of teenagers regarding this topic.

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Blessing your children – what does that mean?

Posted on February 8, 2012 by Phil

Following is an excerpt from the Leader Kit of Honor Begins at Home: The Courageous Bible Study.

Jacob provides the most descriptive example in Scripture of a father blessing his children (see Heb. 11:21). Nearing death, he gathered his family together and blessed each of his sons and also his grandsons who were fathered by Joseph. In this time, men would bless others by prophesying over them concerning future blessings. This could include praying to God on behalf of the person being blessed.

Courageous: Honor Begins at HomeMost of the time, the future blessing was given in regard to past behavior. Often, a faithful son received a promising blessing. An ungodly son received a dreadful blessing.

When a father gathered the family together to pronounce blessings, both positive and negative moments were relived. In the case of Jacob, he reminded Reuben of his sexual immorality and Simeon and Levi of their violent anger (see Gen. 49:3-4, 5-7). He praised Joseph for his fruitfulness and steadiness (see vv. 22-24). With such verbal blessings, a gift of land was often distributed. The weight of these blessings was felt deeply because the prophecy surpassed the son’s life, on to his descendants.

While biblical prophecy occasionally ventured into set days or events, the prophets usually presented messages similar to those a parent would deliver to a child. “If you continue to do this, your future will look like . . .” “If you don’t stop, I’m going to have to discipline you.” Prophecy usually addressed the natural progression of a person or people concerning their obedience or disobedience.

Apply that to Jacob’s blessing, and we understand more clearly. Simeon was a violent man. Jacob discerned that in his son and prophesied that violence was in Simeon’s future (see v. 7). From Jacob’s example, we learn that fathers are to bless children with appropriate words and gifts.

Appropriate words

Blessing a child with appropriate words means telling the truth. “Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right, but a false witness, deceit” (Prov. 12:17). Fathers are not to enable children for continual disobedience.

If your children are walking down a path that leads to destruction, the best blessing you can give them is to tell them of looming danger. Conversely, if your children are walking faithfully in the Lord tell them of the great joy they give you (see Prov. 10:1).

Appropriate gifts

Jacob played favorites with his sons. While his extreme favoritism with Joseph caused family drama (see Gen. 37:3-4), Jacob still resolved to give gifts of land to his sons in a way he deemed appropriate. Normally, the more trustworthy the son, the more generous the gift. Jacob had experienced so much of God’s gracious provision that he did not want to see it thrown away by unreliable sons.

The blessing on Jesus

The idea of a father’s blessing is not as prominent in the New Testament due to the church’s functioning as the people of God. In these pages the best example of a father blessing his son is evident in Jesus’ baptism.

Within the pages of Scripture, biblical blessings happened at pivotal moments (near a father’s death, baptism, etc.). God chose to bless His Son at a pivotal time. Coinciding with His inauguration into ministry, Jesus traveled to the Jordan River so John the Baptist, His cousin, could baptize Him (see Matt. 3:13). “After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matt. 3:16-17). At the transfiguration, the disciples heard the Father say, “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him!” (Matt. 17:5).

Through the Father’s words, we see how a father should bless his child in three specific ways.

Acceptance – The Father wanted listeners to know that Jesus was His Son. Fathers show their acceptance by addressing children according to who they really are, not who they desire them to be.

Adoration – God had no problem telling the world that He adored Jesus. As a beloved Son, Jesus knew that His Father was crazy about Him and didn’t care who knew it. Fathers should express the type of love that treasures their children and delights in them.

Approval – Not only did God tell people that He accepted and adored Jesus, He also wanted all to know that He approved of Him. He told the disciples to listen to what His Son had to say. When a father tells a child that he is good at something and everyone should know and benefit from it, few compliments in this life will ever surpass this one.

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Conversation Starter: Arguments

Posted on February 1, 2012 by Phil

At Ridgecrest Summer Camps, we want to do our best to help you excel through the challenges of parenthood. As we think of you when Camp’s gates aren’t open, we know that you are fielding the “follow up” questions from the summer. So, we want to try to equip you the best we can.

I’m sure that arguments never occur in your household. But just in case they do, here are a few questions to spark good discussion with you kids.

For Preschoolers
What is an argument?
If a friend wants to play a game you don’t like, what would be the nice thing to do?
How can you love somebody when they might be mad at you?

For Children
Do you remember your last argument with a friend or family member?
How did it end?
What can you do to still be nice to someone when you disagree?
Would you let somebody have their way over something you disagreed about (give an example)?

For Students
When do disagreements begin?
How do disagreements go wrong?
What is most difficult about being the peacemaker?
As a Christian, why should you try to make peace?

I hope your conversations are fruitful. If you get any exceptional responses, please feel free to share then here…

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