As I prepare for my Father’s Day sermon this Sunday, I’ve been asking for wisdom from some of the Dads I respect the most. I asked a couple of questions: What message do you think Dads need to hear today? What would you identify as the key ingredient for raising children? I want to share their responses here in a series of posts over the next few days.
From a lifelong youth minister who has raised a family of Christ followers:
What message do you think Dads need to hear today?
- Be intentional about being a good Dad. Do it on purpose. Good fathering doesn’t just happen because you’re a good guy.
- Establish your own list of family values. Collaborate with your family on what they think the list should be. Post your list on your refrigerator door. I did this and I am really glad that I did. It worked well. Note: This is an extension of the first point about intentionality. Compiling such a list is an intentional collaboration that invites participation from all family members. Posting it in a high-visibility area creates a platform for the family values to be routinely reinforced.
- Create and foster a healthy pace to your family life. Don’t allow the culture to dictate how fast and frenetic your kids’ lives are. Sports, arts, academics and a ton of activities will cry out for your time and attention and will end up dictating your life’s pace and priorities. Too many of us allow this and are too distracted and too busy!
- Anger is a choice. Note: Again, this is an extension of intentionality. Intentionally choose the better way. We tend to think of anger as a reaction. But anger is always a choice.
- Be fully present and engaged. Figure out a way to be present when you’re absent and to not be absent when you’re present. Note: Put the phone down and talk to your kids. Be intentional about maximizing the very limited window of time we have while our children are young and formative.
What would you identify as the key ingredient for raising children?
- To be a good leader, you have to be a good follower. To be the kind of Dad your kids deserve, you need to be a humble, obedient follower of Jesus. Note: Stu Weber, in his book “The Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart”, argues that true masculinity is only actuated through the lordship of Jesus, the Ultimate Man.
- Show respect, admiration, and love to their mother. Note: Modeling a loving husband-wife relationship is perhaps the greatest gift we can give our children. In our culture, children are inappropriately elevated to a place of status that was previously reserved only for marriage. I hear it all the time: “My kids are my life. I’d do anything for my kids.” Look, I have kids, too, so I get it. But what message are we sending our children if this is all they ever hear? What about, “My wife is my life. I’d do anything for her.” Have you ever said that? Or even better, “Jesus is my life. I’d do anything for him.” Outside of your relationship with Christ, the only other relationship that is described in covenantal language in the Bible is the marriage relationship of husband and wife. The human parent-child relationship, as important as it is, is never spoken of as a “covenant” relationship. Your relationship with your wife is more important. Model that for your kids.