The Power of a Compliment

Twain Quote

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV): Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…

When was the last time you gave someone a compliment? Not because of something they just did for you, but just because.

I received a call this week, out of the blue, from a guy that paid me a very flattering compliment. What he said doesn’t matter, and that’s not the point here. What is the point is how reaffirming it was to me. It validated all the effort and work I have been putting in on a project. Not only did it validate my efforts, it reminded me of why I was doing what I was doing.

We shouldn’t do what we do for the compliments. But, it is nice to hear another guy say, “Hey, I’ve been watching you and I think you are doing a great job. I appreciate what you’re doing for me and others!”

I need to do more of that. I need to look for opportunities to compliment other people for things they do everyday…because they want to…because they have to! It should start with Amber and my boys. But, it should reach way beyond family.

The new dad who is struggling to figure out his new life.

The empty nester who is handling his new stage of life with actions that are to be modeled by others and speak deeply of this character.

The new believer who has a passion for the Truth that simply is captivating and inspiring.

As men (and we do not like to admit this), we need the affirmation.  Especially the affirmation of other men. We need to know our efforts, actions, and decisions are being noticed. When those efforts, actions and decisions are worthy of praise, we need to hear that. When they aren’t worthy of praise, hopefully we have men in our lives to call us out.

So, here’s the challenge: Be looking out for another guy you can compliment and reaffirm. Maybe it’s the way he treats his wife in public. Or the way he works with his kids. Whatever it is…tell him he’s doing a good job. Tell him to keep it up. Tell him to keep up the good fight. Tell him the effort is worth it!

 

Nine Benefits of Trials

As dads, we all experience trials of some kind, whether it’s the repetitive, tiring work of helping raise a house full of littles (like Nathan wrote about last week), the juggling act of being a responsible homeschool dad, or the challenging job of wisely loving and releasing older children as they spread their wings and step out from under your leadership.

It’s tempting to wish life would be easier, or that our responsibilities weren’t so challenging. But the fact is, God says suffering and trials are good for us in many ways.

Nine Benefits of Trials - Tree and road in the fog

Here are nine reasons from Scripture that trials and suffering are actually beneficial. Whatever difficulties you might be facing, God’s Word has encouragement for you:

1. Trials cause us to depend more on God, and less on ourselves.

“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself… But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Cor. 1:8-10) See also Phil. 4:13, 4:19, 1 Cor. 2:5, and Ps. 84:11.

2. If we endure hardships faithfully, it brings glory to God.

“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 2:3) See also 2 Cor. 6:2-10 and 2 Thess. 1:4.

3. Trials allow us to see God’s power and love more clearly as He works in our lives.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (1 Cor. 12:9) See also Isa. 43:2 and 2 Cor. 9:8.

4. Trials can draw us closer to Christ, who suffered for us, and help us learn from His example.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Heb 12:3) See also 2 Cor. 5:15 and 13:4.

5. Trials keep us humble.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” (2 Cor. 12:7) See also Dt. 8:2 and Dan. 4:37.

6. Trials teach us endurance.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” (Rom. 5:3) See also Jas. 1:2-4.

7. Trials can lead us to repentance and to greater sanctification.

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11) See also 2 Chron. 6:36-39.

8. Experiencing trials prepares us to comfort others who experience trials.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

9. Suffering hardship in the name of Christ brings eternal rewards.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:6-8)

No matter what kind of hardships we face, God is with us, sovereignly using the situation to accomplish His purposes. Nothing can separate us from His love. And that should inspire us to persevere, knowing that in Christ we can overcome every hardship that comes our way.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Rom 8:35, 37)

 

Daniel Forster is married to Katelyn, father to two girls and two boys, and the manager of Doorposts Publishing near Portland, Oregon. Those callings occupy most of his time at the moment, but he also enjoys reading, writing, playing the fiddle, working outdoors, and traveling. Daniel graduated from homeschooling in 2002, and he’s excited about raising his own children in the ways of the Lord. He is the author of Because You Are Strong: A Study of Godly Strength for Young Men.

The Dance

Our family traveled from Virginia to Michigan at the beginning of the month to celebrate our niece’s wedding. It was a “white-knuckled” drive through a blizzard but the prospect of everyone being together provided plenty of motivation. For the first time in a year, Cindi and I would enjoy time and stories from our 6 children, their spouses and “plus ones” as we spent a few days together. I have to admit that it was nice having two other men in the room; most of the time I am considerably outnumbered by the women in my life.

I did manage to make my way to my “coach’s” home to join 20 other men who get together every Saturday morning for a time of reflection and encouragement around God’s Word. It was refreshing, to say the least. The discussion starting point that morning was a reminder that we are called “human beings,” not “human doings.” It seems many of us get so involved in the day-to-day “shoulds” and “to dos” that we lose sight of who God has called us to be. Let me caution you here: if you find yourself overwhelmed by the “do this and do that” or the do-do-do impulse, you may look back on your life someday and find that all it amounted to was a big pile of dodo!

As the conversation progressed, it soon veered into the area of obedience. It seems that many Christians, especially parents, spend a lot their time on this topic. This is probably due to the fact that we spend so much time trying to get our children to be obedient. The things we do in life should be done out of our obedience to God’s direction. After all, the more obedient we are, the more things we will do for Him, and the more we do, the more He will appreciate us. God’s blessings, therefore, are a result of our obedience to God and the things we do for him. It all sounds pretty logical, doesn’t it?

Yet this flies in the face of the reality that we are to be still and know that He is God, that He gives us rest, and that He is our rest. We were created to be in an intimate relationship with our Creator. We were designed to have fellowship with our God and walk with Him in the cool of the afternoon.

As parents, we desire our children to be obedient to our instruction. Even if it is something that they don’t want to do, we desire for them to choose to be obedient out of love and respect, don’t we?

Cindi and I have been taking basic ballroom dance lessons recently. In those lessons we are learning that arm position and gentle pressure from our hands communicate direction. We are learning that in order for the dance to work, I am to lead and she is to follow. The lead, though, is communicated through the intimacy we have as we dance together. When I lead well and she follows well, we dance. If I don’t lead well or she doesn’t follow well our feet get tangled.

I have learned that obedience from God’s perspective is less about doing what He says regardless of the situation and more about following His lead well as we embrace one another in intimacy. It’s a dance and not a duty.

Intimacy with God is not a morning devotional, prayer 3 times a day, church on Wednesdays and Sundays and the memorization of the entire New Testament. Intimacy with God is an embrace that goes on all day and all night. It is 24/7/365 attention to the gentle and guiding pressures of His hand. It is a closeness that can hear the whisper of His voice. It is intimate enough to feel the beat of His heart.

Try it and watch what happens.

A Legacy of Faithful Obedience

Christmas boydad

Typically at the end of a year, it is easy to become a little pensive as we ponder all that has happened over the past twelve months and realize how fast time is flying by. As I look at last year’s Christmas card while choosing pictures for this year’s card, that truth is driven home in a fresh way this Christmas. And with that truth comes the question: “What kind of legacy am I leaving my sons?” There will come a day, all too quickly, that my time is done and they will carry on without me. What images will be burned into their memories? Matthew paints for us a picture of a dad who left the kind of legacy that I want to be true of me. In 1:18-2:23, Matthew gives us his account of Jesus’ birth and all the events that surround it. The story starts with a bit of scandal as Joseph finds that his fiancée is pregnant, and as he was getting ready to end his relationship with Mary, he received a visit from an angel via a dream; the angel said to him, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20b – ESV).

Stop and grasp that for a moment. Try to wrap your mind around what Joseph was being told (as if the visit from an angel wasn’t mind-blowing enough!). Joseph, you need to get married to a girl who is carrying a baby (you are going to be a dad way sooner than you thought) and this kid is the direct result of God’s hand. Talk about life-changing truth! And so Joseph had a choice. Would he obey the angel’s directive or would he proceed with plans to separate from Mary? A few years later, Joseph has another dream and gets another visit from an angel. The news delivered this time is just as life altering as the first: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13 – ESV). Someone is out to kill your son, Joseph; you have to move- and not just to another city, but to another country, and you have to go now. And so Joseph faced another choice: would he obey the word of an angel and move to a different country with his young son and wife?

Some time later, Joseph has a third dream and another visit from an angel who told him to, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” (Matthew 2:20 – ESV). And so Joseph was faced with another choice: would he trust what the angel told him, that the danger was indeed over, and move Mary and Jesus back to Israel? Three dreams, three visits from an angel, three commands, and one response from Joseph: Faithful obedience. It was faithful obedience that caused Joseph to go ahead with plans to getting married to a girl who was already pregnant. It was faithful obedience that caused him to move his family to another country in the middle of the night. It was faithful obedience that caused Joseph to move his family back into the “lion’s den.”

It is this kind of faithful obedience to the words of God that you and I are called to leave as a legacy for our sons. But I don’t want you to think that it is now up to you to muster up the will power to force yourself into faithful obedience. That will never happen. The way that you and I are capable of faithful obedience is the same way that Joseph was able: because we have a God who is faithful to His promises.

The main point of Matthew’s birth narrative is that God is faithful to His word. In these 31 verses, Matthew shows us five different Old Testament texts that were fulfilled, which screams to us that we can be faithful in our obedience to God because He was faithful to His promises. Joseph obeyed because he believed the promises of God. The secret to our obedience is the same… belief in the promises of God. This is what Christmas is about: God’s faithfulness to his promises made visible, the word becoming flesh, that we might believe in His promises and live lives of faithful obedience. This is the legacy we are called to, dads. Is this the legacy your sons will remember?

A letter to New Dads, Old Dads, and New Dads That Feel Old

A-letter-to-new-dads(Note: This is really a letter to new fathers, but if you’ve been a dad for awhile, I hope this will have some meaning for you as well.)

Dear New Dad,

I know, I know. The baby is finally quiet and the last thing you want to do is read this letter. You want to sleep. Actually, you might be too tired to sleep, so collapsing on the couch in exhaustion may be more like it. Relax, it could be worse: You could be the new mom!

But, while you have a minute I wanted to write you this note. I remember so well the day my first son was born. I had no idea the impact him coming into the world would have on me. Looking back, I want to give you 4 things to tuck away and remember. Even with 4 boys (ages 10, 8, 6, 4) these are things I still need to hear too. I hope you find them helpful.

1. Pursue God more now than ever – Don’t lose sight of the fact your most important relationship still needs be with God and His son, Jesus. In fact, now that you have a child of your own, I bet John 3:16 (…his only begotten son…) looks a bit more real to you. You understand how much God must love you to put His son on the cross to die for you. Remember, He doesn’t want your money. He doesn’t want you just going to church. He wants a relationship with you. As a new father, you are going to need His strength now more than ever.

2. Love your wife – It’s so easy to get in the habit of raising kids that, if I am not careful, I can begin to interact and treat my wife as a business partner. No doubt sometimes it feels like Kaehr, Inc. instead of The Kaehr Family, but I want to be married to my best friend, not a business partner. Create space for just you and your wife. Create moments where you can be close to her, talk with her, and spend time with just her – remember, loving her means leading her. Now more than ever, she needs you to step up as the Godly leader in the home!

3. Check your blind spots – There are going to be areas of your life that were never an issue before and now that you have kids, those areas may become blind spots (things that are affecting you that you just don’t see). You need to be meeting with other men in discipleship/accountability to keep your life in check. You also need to have a mentor you can lean on for wisdom. If you don’t have these men in your life, now would be the time to get them. You are going to need other men to share with and help you down this path.

4. Enjoy it – Children are gift from the Lord. Enjoy the new blessing in your life. Remember, don’t just enjoy them now (when they are sleeping). Enjoy them in the middle of the night when they are screaming. Enjoy them when they throw up all over you. Enjoy them when they begin to walk or say “da da”. Enjoy them when they poop out of their diaper all over your jeans at the restaurant. Don’t ever stop looking at them like the miracle you keep saying they are right now. Believe me, that is SO much easier to write than say, but it’s true!

I could probably go on and on, but I won’t. Enjoy the quiet. Give your wife a back rub. Rest. You are going to need it.

But, let me tell you: If you will be an engaging husband and father, if you will pursue God, love your wife, share the experience with others, and enjoy the moments…there is no greater job or reward this side of Heaven. Absolutely nothing!

To quote a PBS legend, “Red Green”…Remember, I’m pulling for ya’. We’re all in this together.

Congratulations!
Dustin

A Steward of God’s Blessings

In the church I’ve grown up in, we have a tradition. Before a wedding, the men will gather for a “men’s advice night” and share lessons, stories, and marriage wisdom with the new husband-to-be. I just participated in one such advice night for my new brother-in-law and another friend who was also about to be married.

Godly men who’ve been married ranging from 1 month to 30 years shared stories of their mistakes and discoveries. They gave advice like “Read the Bible together daily,” “Start your own family traditions right away,” “Take adventures together,” and “Let her know you are thinking of her throughout the day.” We all wanted these young men to learn from our experiences and start marriage out on the right foot.

A-steward-of-God's-blessings

Photo credit

That night, also I heard several men say “I wish I’d had this kind of advice when I got married.” Not all of the men gathered had a Christian upbringing, godly parents, or even godly friends when they got married. And yet, God graciously worked in their lives, even through the rough times, and today God’s grace is clearly demonstrated in their lives and marriages.

This made me stop and think about all the blessings God has given me. I’ve experienced God’s grace, mercy, and blessings in more ways than I can count.

We need to be wise stewards of the blessings God gives us. We aren’t blessed just so we can be comfortable and happy; we’re blessed so we can praise and thank God for His grace. We’re blessed so we can share that grace with others around us.

How has God blessed you?

Were you blessed with faithful, godly parents?

Were you taught the Word of God and raised in the Christian faith?

Do you have a heritage of godly grandparents and ancestors you can look up to?

Are you a survivor of a rougher, less godly upbringing? God’s grace is still at work. No matter how you were raised, I’m going to assume, if you’re reading this, that God has brought you into a saving relationship with Him. You have a unique story to be thankful for and to share with others.

Are you blessed with a godly wife? Are you growing and learning in your marriage?

Are you part of the body of Christ, the Church? How has this been a blessing to you?

Do you have godly friends who care about you?

Have others invested in your life? Parents, teachers, friends, pastors, mentors… we’ve all learned from other people God has put in our life.

What about God’s provision? Have you seen God’s hand at work times of financial difficulty?

Has God given you success in your calling?

When has God answered your prayers, or given you wisdom and guidance?

You may not have experienced all of these blessings, but look around you. God is at work in your life. What blessings can you see?

What you do with these blessings matters.

Thank God for them. Tell the stories to your children. Mentor someone else who needs help. Share these blessings and be a conduit for God’s grace, reaching others around you who desperately need it.

If we gratefully steward God’s blessings in this way, we’ll be a strong influence for good in the lives of those around us, especially our sons.

 

Daniel Forster is married to Katelyn, father to three little ones, and the manager of Doorposts Publishing. He also writes for the blog Doorposts of Your House. You may enjoy his blog post How Grandpa Influenced Me.

Enjoy Your Son

Enjoy-your-son-1

I was given the unique gift of three weeks at the beach with my family this summer. We all love the beach, but it holds a very special place in my heart. I marvel at the awesomeness of the ocean, the power of the tides, and how the beach changes in form every day. I love sitting quietly and taking it all in. I love reading a book, then leaning back in my chair, closing my eyes, and nodding off as the sounds of crashing waves wash over me. I love walks down the beach, gazing at the extravagant houses and the unique people.

I love all of this and more; but that was not what I experienced. You see, we recently adopted three boys ages 4, 3, and 2, and times of peace and quiet seem to be a thing of the past, at least for now. Time for ‘self’ just seems ever elusive.

And so, week one began with great expectations of sleeping in, having some personal quiet time on the deck of the beach house, reading a good book, and all the other personal experiences I already mentioned.

But then reality set in.

At 6:00 a.m. the boys begin to wake, the two-year-old calls for Daddy: precious, yet untimely. We subdue the restless with Mickey’s Playhouse, Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Cheerios until they’ve had their fill. Next we begin beach preparation. We spray them down with sunscreen (thank God for spray cans), put on swimmie diapers just in time for one of the boys to have a less than solid poop )which, by the way, swimmies are not well designed for).  We outfit them with their color-coordinated swim suits and shirts, strap on their flip flops, fill the cooler with drinks, the stroller and wagon with snacks, toys, towels, life jackets, chairs and a tent, and off we head for a ‘restful’ time on the beach.

After carting everything and everyone to the beach and laying claim to our territory, I am ready to sit and rest; but NO! The four-year-old wants to go in the water. I try to convince him through my refined power of persuasion that now is not the time, but his insistence and persistence win out. So up I rise, and hand-in-hand we make our way to the cold water. I like to gradually get used to the water, but the four-year-old pulls me in faster than I am comfortable with. How is it that the strength of a 35-lb. preschooler is greater than that of a 220-lb. man?

Bested, I finally immerse myself and take him in my arms. He loves it! He is courageous! We make our way beyond the breakers and begin to rise and fall with the waves. He wants me to let go so he can swim about freely in his life jacket. I concede. After many minutes have gone by, I am ready to return to the comfort of my beach chair. I suggest we go in, but once again I am met with opposition. My young warrior has yet to grow weary; he wants to stay and continue to battle the waves.

It was then that I clearly heard my spirit complaining. This was supposed to be a time for me to relax, for me to get away from the demands of work, for me to spend time with God.

And then I felt like I heard the voice of God saying, “Just enjoy your son as I enjoy my Son.”

Conviction flooded over me. I had become so focused on SELF that I failed to enjoy my son, not to mention the Son. I was seeking a fleeting joy over an eternal joy. At that moment, I stopped and just set my eyes upon the smiling face of my water warrior as he propelled himself over the waves. This was a precious and memorable moment that I almost missed because my focus was misplaced.

It’s hard being a parent of young, energetic boys, but I was reminded this summer at the beach that engaging with them is so much more fun and productive than trying to corral them and make them conform to a lifestyle that is peaceful and comfortable for me. These days will pass quickly, and before we know it, our boys will choose sleeping in or playing video games over time on the beach with us. This is a special phase of life where things are new and adventures abound for boys; we just need to enjoy our sons as the Father enjoys His Son!

 

Does Your Son Know You’re Proud of Him?

Excitement was permeating through the truck cab. With a brand new fishing rod in the bed, my son keeps asking, “Where are we going fishing?!” He keeps asking how long till we arrive.

Moments later we arrive, fishing pole and worms in hand. He’s rushing me to bait the hook as he sees fish swimming near the surface.

He casts, the worm still wiggling at the end; and then a subtle splash.

Delight covers his face and is replicated in the ripples across the water.

Ripples turn into convulsive splashing as a fish struggles to free itself from the betraying meal.

As my son reals in the fish you would have thought he had struck gold.

As the fish makes landfall my son, in all the excitement he can muster, yells,

“Daddy, you’re so proud of me, you’re so proud of me, daddy, you’re going to be so proud of me!”

He then turns to me with fish in hand looking for any sign of confirmation.

He asks, “Daddy, you’re proud of me right?!”

And there’s a pause.

An anticipatory pause.

In that brief, tiny moment, he needed to be affirmed. He needed to know that I was proud of him, before he could go on celebrating his catch.

To know that I was proud of him in the moment was just as important as the event taking place. In my mind I was thinking, “Of course I’m proud of him, why wouldn’t I be?” But he wanted and needed those words verbalized.

“I’m proud of you, son!”

Just as quickly as I gave him those words, he returned to celebrating his catch.

That need to be affirmed. To know that your father is proud of you, never goes away. Some men live their lives seeking it. Some never get it.

I still need it.

I remember, distinctly, moments when my dad has said he’s proud of me. That sense and feeling of knowing your dad is proud of you is a unique feeling. That wanting and need to hear the words I still seek. In times when I feel like fatherhood is hard and I don’t know if I’m doing it right or well, I need to hear those words.

Just as I need to hear those words, so does my son.

He needs to know that I’m proud of him even when he’s not being “good”; I’m still proud to call him my son.

The importance of telling our sons we are proud of them is found when the Father said to His Son He was proud of Him:

“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Mathew 3:17 (NIV)

Have you told your son lately that you are proud of him?

CaedCatchingFish

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You can find Jesse writing about his attempts (failures) at being a good father, husband and follower of Jesus. The good news is, Jesus is the redeemer.  And that is what he clings to.  There is no amount of failing or screwing up that He can’t redeem.  He writes on his own blog here.

Twitter: @jessemhoover

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessehooverwrites

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Vacate and Relate

This month, we took our first vacation with our newly adopted children. To be honest, I was not looking forward to it. First of all, it involved a 34-hour (one-way) road trip with three children under 6 years old, followed by helping our oldest son move out of his second-story apartment. I am more of an “amusement park or ocean cruise” kind of vacation guy, so this particular vacation was definitely not on my bucket list. (I will save my thoughts on bucket lists for another day.)

vacate and relate

After an all day, all night, and half of the next day of driving, we arrived at our little vacation cottage in northwest Montana. From my estimates, the cottage was older than all of our ages combined. That was okay, though. It had internet. (Who needs a microwave with a popcorn button while on vacation anyhow?) We were tired and ready for baths and showers. The cottage had a bath and beds, so we were set.

Most days, we would visit friends and family, but we also made sure that we were at the cottage by 7:00 pm, so we could get the kids in bed by their bedtime. To me it felt like so much time lost preparing the kids for bed, and just hanging out as a family, when there were so many family members and friends that we had to catch up with. I had people I wanted to see and things I wanted to do.

Then something happened. My youngest son and I started having fun together! In the six months that we’ve had together, my almost-three-year-old and I have not had too much time alone. With all the busyness of adding two new children into our home, my individual quality time with this little guy was pretty sparse. Now we had an entire week of being together, and what a difference it has made for both of us. There wasn’t one specific moment that stood out, but just the daily routine of hanging out together that bonded us.

Now my son actually misses me when I am gone or at work, and to be honest, I miss him too. God used this vacation to bond our family in very dramatic ways. It reminds me of my need for quality time with my Heavenly Father. He is there and waiting to visit with me. I just need to be more intentional about acknowledging His presence in my days, and inviting Him into my world. In an ironic twist, the more time I spend with my son, the more I desire to. The same with God.

When things get busy, and I think I don’t have time to spend time with God, I am reminded of Matthew 6:33. The last section of Matthew 6 talks about our vain attempts to “worry our way” into getting what we need.

Jesus said “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NASB).

God is telling us here to focus on our relationship with Him, and He will provide the rest. Relationship should trump all, as it is the most important. Our relationship with our God first, and then our families.

Do I want my children to value a relationship with their Heavenly Father? It starts with me valuing a relationship with them, and leading them towards a relationship with God. The great part about it is, I am loving this new-found relationship.

Disclaimer: While I cannot stress enough the need for focused quality time with our children, I am not condoning three days quarantined in a car with steady stream of fast food and gas station snacks to meet the goal.

 

Take Aim and Release

father-son-bow

I recently had the amazing opportunity to listen to a challenge from Dr. Duane Litfin. If you are not familiar with the name, he is the President Emeritus of Wheaton College, and brought some great reminders to me in his presentation.

We read from Psalm 127. I have to admit, I had never taken the whole chapter as a single topic, but after hearing this, I felt compelled to share.

You see, I find myself challenged with the notion that my day-job needs to matter. From what I have read in management literature, I am not alone in this. We all need to have a sense that we are not just wasting our days and that we will come to the end of our lives wondering if we really made a difference.  Here is what the Psalmist had to say…

1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves. 3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. (NIV)

I have never really connected verses 1-2 with 3-5 before. Solomon was passing along some wisdom that really struck home with me. It is not an accident that he starts by saying that the Lord needs to be in the center of the work, but then he wraps it all up talking about our kids and the blessing they are.

Solomon was really onto something here. I have always said that my definition of success in this life is that my grandchildren are serving God. Regardless of where I work, and what I do, my first, and most powerful, field of influence is my children.

C.S. Lewis once said “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.”

How much of the daily work I do is outdated the moment I finish it? Is my career really all about things that no one will know about, or care about, decades from now? I contrast that against the generations before me, and the generations that come after me. My dad does not have much in the way of material possessions, but he did leave me and my siblings a legacy to follow: A passionate legacy of living a life with God unashamedly.

Am I looking at my kids as a blessing? Many days – yes. Some days I forget and need this reminder.

Am I intentional in how I aim their lives towards the Lord? I need to be more so. When I am not placing a priority on my children, and their need for seeing who God is, it is because I am guilty of placing too much emphasis on other endeavors. Endeavors that, regardless of how noble, pale in comparison to my role as the father, mentor, leader in my home. My boys need to see the God I serve. They need to know that I am here for them. They need to know that true manhood is experiencing a personal relationship with the God of creation.

Disclaimer: I often refer to myself as a Jack of all Trades, Master of None. May I learn to be a Master of One Trade – Dad.