Boring is Not Allowed

Jack London, author of the book “White Fang”, when asked about purpose in life, responded by saying: “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” Our boys must understand that they have incredible adventures ahead of them. They must also see that lived out in our lives. I have yet to meet a boy that wants to grow up and be boring. God designed boys and men with adventuresome spirits. We men often love to explore, take risks, and play and invent games in which we are challenged and pushed to the edge.

This sense of adventure, however, can be misguided during the teenage years. Some adventures could lead down a path towards things like alcohol, drugs, vandalism and sex outside of marriage. These paths should be avoided. It is our calling as dads to tell our boys that many things are out of bounds. When we give those restrictions, it is important for our boys to know that we are preparing them for the future, even if they feel like they are missing out on an adventure that other teenage boys are having.

This does not mean that there are no adventures left to enjoy. Your life is not meant to be boring and empty, and neither is your son’s. Author Wilfred Peterson says, “A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends and taking up new hobbies.” Men should never fall into the trap of believing that a life of adventure is over at a certain age. God called men of all ages and stages to a life of adventure.

As we learn more about the character of God and His Son Jesus, we will come to see God as sending each of us on a great adventure when we become a follower of His. Jesus lived a radical and adventurous life, and He calls us to live the same way. Real men embrace the right kinds of adventures.

My prayer is that our sons will know very clearly from both our words and actions that a life lived for the glory of God is a life of adventure.

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!

 

Boys Club

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting by myself and having lunch. I was reading a magazine, watching sports on TV, and checking email on my phone. At the next table, there was group of 3 guys talking; and I wasn’t really listening until one of them said this:

“There’s no way my wife could leave for a couple of days. I don’t think I could handle it with my kids. All the meals and baths and stuff. It’s more than I can deal with.”

I stopped. I wanted to get up, walk over, sit down, look at him and go, “REALLY?!?” (and then slap him). You couldn’t handle having the kids for a couple of days? Really? You couldn’t handle being the sole care giver for 48 hours? Really?!?

Listen, if you are a dad and you couldn’t be solely responsible for your kids for a couple of nights, without…

…your wife preparing all the meals
…your wife writing out instructions on which kids get which medicines, etc
…your mommy coming over to watch them so you can go golf or to help get them to bed
…just putting them in front of the TV, Wii, or Game Boy for a couple days…

…then you aren’t doing your job as a husband and father. You’re immature at best, selfish at worst, and I guarantee you cause your wife more stress than anyone else in her life. It’s time to grow up.

Your kids need alone time with you. They need to bond with you without their mom around. They need to see how you handle dinner (and carry out doesn’t count…cook something!) They need to see how you do bath time. They need to see you doing dishes, picking up, and keeping the house in good order. They need to see you take them to swim practice, to their basketball game, and to church on Sunday! Quite simply, they need to see their dad being dad.

My boys love Boys Club. In fact, we are just coming off a Boys Club weekend this weekend. That’s what we call it when when my wife is gone for a few hours or for the weekend. They look forward to it. I look forward to it. She really looks forward to it!

Here’s the point: Be engaged AND intentional in the life of your kids. Don’t just be a paycheck.

40% of babies born in White families today have no father in the home. The number jumps to over 70% when you talk about babies born in the African American community. Those are homes where there is no father at all. That doesn’t count the homes where a dad is physically there, but in all the ways that matter he’s not there!

Here’s the challenge: Be alone with your kids for an overnight or for a weekend. Send your wife away somewhere. I’m guessing you won’t have to twist her arm!

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Now, in case you are a mom reading this (or you men want to show her this post when she looks at you funny for suggesting she go away for a night), you need to understand your husband is not a mom. He is not going to do things the way you do.

He’s not going to feed them the way you do. That’s OK.
He’s not going to treat them the way you do. That’s OK.
He’s not going to do bedtime the way you do. That’s OK

Why? Because he is their father. He loves them, cares about them, and will protect them. They will still all be there when you get home. Let your husband test his own parenting skills. Only doing everything you tell him to do when it comes to the kids isn’t having an engaged father/husband…it’s having a male nanny that brings in a paycheck.

You want and need your husband to be engaged in your kids’ lives. You need him to be willing to take them off your hands for a change. You need time away from the kids, and just as importantly, they need time away from you.

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OK, back to the men. I think it’s time more of us men Stand Up, Step Up, and Suck It Up when it comes to being actively involved in the raising of our kids.

So, don’t tell me you don’t think you could handle your kids alone for a couple of days while your wife gets a much needed break.

You can do it.

It’s called being a dad.

Finding a Father Figure to Follow

I spent 22 years of my life observing my father’s actions: the way he treated my mother, his children, and others around him.  I concluded that I really didn’t want to grow up and be the same kind of person he was.  I also noticed that my grandfather and uncle on my dad’s side of the family behaved a lot like my dad as well.  Could that behavior have been handed down generation after generation?  Was it possible that earlier generations modeled the same form of manhood as well?

The kind of manhood and the type of father I wanted to model simply wasn’t available to me as I was growing up.  So try as I may, I really didn’t have any hope of becoming a different kind of man than my father and his father.  Those were the men I caught my manhood and fathering behaviors from.  You see, manhood and fatherhood are caught more so than taught.  Like a cold virus, you will contract the same virus from the one you are exposed to.  Even though I didn’t want to be like my father, it is no surprise to me now that I became just like him.

Why am I telling you this?  Because you need to see your own shortcomings as a man and father and then expose your life to someone who models the type of behavior you want to demonstrate in your own life.  It is up to you to take the necessary steps to make a lasting change in your life.  Otherwise, your children and their children will carry out the family tradition.

The first and most important step is to look carefully at the life of Jesus as a son, how he related to his Father, and how the Father guided him through his life as a man.  For all of the talk about being a Christian father, the one thing our heavenly Father wants for us is to be sons.  If we learn how to be sons, He can guide us into the role of fathers.  This will take a lot of time reading His Word and listening to his voice.  Ask him to show you how he functions as a father and how Jesus functioned as a son and as a man.

The second step is to ask your Father to show you men around you that model the character and wisdom you would like to see in your own life.  When he shows you someone, go and talk to them about it.  Ask them how they learned what they know and how they would help you catch it from them.

A couple weeks ago I was in Michigan visiting friends and watching my daughter play volleyball.  An opportunity came up to spend a couple hours with my coach and mentor.  Although I hadn’t seen him in nearly a year, I really wanted to spend that time with him.  I met him 23 years ago when he was my age (60) and he has been a valuable contributor to my life for all of those years.  Now in his 80’s, he still opens me up to the kind of man and father I want to be.  Just as importantly, he opens me up to the man and father my heavenly Father desires me to be as well.

It’s time to stop ignoring the things that you don’t like about yourself as a father, husband and man. Replace that bad character and behavior by catching the good from someone who has it.  Try it and watch what happens.

Let Him Help You

Let-him-help-you

I should have known my son would be different. After two girls, I expected a boy would be different, but I didn’t know just how different he would be from the get-go.

At age one, he would watch me split kindling and giggle every time the wood popped. While I was under the sink trying to fix the garbage disposal, he wormed his way in beside me and poked at it with a screwdriver.

He’s not even two yet, but he peeks under the car and hands me tools while I’m changing the oil. He’s thrilled to sit with me in the driver’s seat and pretend to drive the car in the driveway.

He loves anything motorized, and he cries whenever he has to stay in the house while I’m mowing the lawn. In fact, anything (besides “CAR!”) with a motor is exuberantly called “MOW!” right now.

I can see that a desire to DO things is deeply rooted in my son. He’s watching what I do, and he wants to help me. I want to encourage this attitude! Here are several good reasons for letting our children (no matter how small) work beside us:

  1. God made us to work (Gen. 2:15, Eccl. 9:10), and our inborn sin nature has not entirely erased that desire, even in a toddler.
  2. When they’re little, it seems like they always want to be with us. We need to take advantage of this. They’re watching everything we do, soaking up all that they see, and forming their own view of the world. If your children want to be with you, make the most of it, even if it’s inconvenient at times.
  3. They will also learn to be diligent (that is, if we set an example of diligence ourselves). I want my son to be a hard-working, creative man who knows how to take initiative. A man like this will always be in demand. If he knows how to work hard, he’ll be a valued employee or a capable entrepreneur. Proverbs says a man like this will “stand before kings.”

So let your children get in the way. Slow down, and let them “help,” even when it’s inconvenient. It won’t be inconvenient for very long!

(For some practical ways to encourage young children to help, read my blog post Raising Children Who Help over at the Doorposts Blog.)

Show Some Heart

Show-some-heart

Boys need to see the heart of their father.

It may be something you do very naturally with your daughter, but struggle with your boys. Remember, we need to be tough for our family, not tough on them…especially our sons.

See, before the Industrial Revolution, boys spent the days with their dads in the fields. A son saw the best hours of his dad’s day. They saw his strength and work ethic. They spent time with dad pouring his life and energy into his work. All that changed once men went to work in factories, and the only part of dad a boy would see is what was left when they got home from work (which was usually just enough strength to sit in a chair, read the paper, and have a drink). It began a trickle-down effect that put women (wives, school and Sunday school teachers) spending more and more time with boys. As men began to throw their lives into work, they quit calling their boys to manhood, and boys had to grow into men without anyone modeling it for them.

OK, all of that’s a bit of a rabbit trail (maybe for another time) from where I really want to go with this, so let me re-focus.

It is important your boys see you work. They need to see you get passionate about things (not just cussing and angry, but passionate). They need to see you problem solve. They need to see you love their mother.  They need to see you come alive. They need to know it is OK to get “fired up” about Stuff. Fun Stuff and Important Stuff.

They need to see your heart.

Not only do they need to see your heart, but, as importantly, they need to feel your heart.

You need to tell your boys you love them. They need to hear you say it. They need to know it is alright for them to show love towards each other. They need to feel your strong hands hug them and show them love. Rub their backs while you hug them. Cuddle with them. Run your fingers through their hair. Touch them gently.

If your boys are like mine, they love to wrestle and test their strength against mine. That is great and can be a lot of fun! Until they get too old and then I am going to worry they may hurt me!

I came across a song by a folk artist named John Smith.  He has a song called Father’s Day.  The song is about the first time he heard his dad say, “I love you.”  (You can listen to the song and read all the words HERE).  But the last chorus does a beautiful job of capturing why it is so important to tell your sons you love them.

The Strange thing, about it is

I never knew I had a hole inside that big
But I guess I did, because there it was
Cryin’ right out loud, saying fill me up
Yea so now I try, to do my best
To tell my kids I love ‘em every chance I get
Funny how a few small words, can run so deep
Make a baby smile, make a grown man weep.

I love the line, “funny how a few small words, can run so deep.

How true.

Those words (and the heart behind them) will give your boys the strength they need to be boys.

Boys that, with their father as their guide, will grow into authentic men.

Teaching Your Son What You Don’t Know

How do you teach your kids something you don’t know?

Or, more generally, how to you help your kids excel in areas where you don’t? Where, perhaps, you’re an abysmal failure?

teaching-your-sons-what-you-dont-know

It’s hard enough to pass on those values, skills, and ideals we possess in abundance. I can teach my sons how to be kind, patient, forgiving, faithful, and so on, because these happen to be some of my strengths; and even these will be transmitted to my boys only by concerted effort, diligence, endurance.

Harder by far is it for me to teach them decisiveness, strength in leadership, financial intelligence, even healthy aggression, because these are areas of weakness for me–areas where all my best efforts and concentrations are hardly enough to propel me toward any noticeable growth. But they are qualities I admire, aspire to, and desire for my sons. I want them to be well rounded, strong in the areas where I am weak, protected from my own shortcomings.

But how, exactly, am I supposed to pass that on to them? If I don’t possess certain abilities or character traits in abundance, how can I teach those things to my sons?

Being keenly aware of my various and colorful shortcomings (as you probably are of yours), I’ve thought a lot about this question. And, as a young dad, I’ve thought of several ways to help address the issue—ideas that are helping me as I implement them, and which I believe are applicable to fathers from any life stage. So, here goes: My list of How To Teach Your Sons What You Don’t Know…

1. Become a student

Come up against an issue that baffles you? Something outside your comfort zone, and beyond your strengths? Read up on it; study the issue in Scripture; begin trying to work it out in your own life. Experience, it’s said, is the best teacher. So, for example, if you struggle with making wise financial decisions, start by reading sound financial advice from a biblical perspective—then put it into practice. Always be willing to learn—for your benefit, and for your sons’.

2. Surround your sons with mentors

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed.” From an early age, our sons need to understand that we, their dads, don’t have everything they need: we are not perfect, not able to completely prepare them for all that life brings. We are their primary teachers, yes: God has designed it that way, and we should never shrink from that responsibility. But, let’s help our sons one more step along the way: let’s help them learn to be mentored. By accepting mentoring in our own lives, and by surrounding ourselves—and our sons—with godly friends, they will see a more complete representation of God-honoring masculinity.

3. Seek wisdom from God

James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” The greatest tool we have for fathering, and especially for teaching our sons the things that are beyond our capabilities, is the wisdom of God. I believe it’s possible, through our inexperience and failure, that God can help us find the teachable moments our mess ups create. We can teach our sons through the dumb things we do, if we’re willing to admit our mistakes and seek the better path for next time. Even better, God can grant us the supernatural wisdom to understand that which is beyond us, and to make the wise choices. We can allow the Spirit of God to lead us, even in situations where we have no experience or aptitude, into victory.

These are general ideas, yes, but they are ones I’ve found extremely helpful as I consider my many shortcomings and how to raise my sons to avoid them. Become a student of the areas where you fall short, surround yourself (and your sons) with godly mentors who have different strengths than you do, and, most of all, seek God’s wisdom through HIs word.

Dads, what are some ways you’ve found to teach your sons what you don’t know? How do you pass on what you don’t have?

Dads as Yardage Finders

I have been playing golf for almost 30 years now. I started at an early age and have loved the game and the life lessons it teaches. I was playing in a tournament with three friends the other day, and I noticed that all of them had one thing in their bags that I didn’t: a yardage finder. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is a binocular-like device that tells you a number of things about your upcoming shot. It is a great device, and is very helpful to have around. As I went through our round, I began to think about all the parallels this device has with being a father.

Yardage-Finder

1) The yardage finder tells its player the yardage to the front of the green, the back of the green, and the pin, but the player still has to swing the club. We can teach as much as we want, but our kids still have to make the decisions. This places the utmost importance on how and what we teach our children.

2) The yardage finder warns the player of dangers that might lie ahead on that particular hole. Dads must make sure their children are aware of the dangers of making poor decisions and help them avoid certain dangerous situations.

3) The yardage finder helps the player understand the distances and the layout of the course. Dads must make God’s Word the ultimate guide in our homes. Our children must also be taught how to apply the lessons learned to everyday life.

4) The yardage finder’s purpose is ultimately the end of the round. The goal of the yardage finder is to help the player finish with the best possible score. Dads must always be thinking with the end in mind. We must disciple our children and teach them to be life-ready so that they can launch into their next season of life in the best way possible.

Hopefully, we all can take lessons from a modern-day device and apply the lessons learned to be more strategic and intentional in parenting. It is so easy for dads to get stuck in the mundane routine of life and not think about the bigger picture. Without that yardage finder, I would really have to guess about how far I have to hit the ball. Dads, we cannot leave our sons to guess about what it means to be a godly man and how that fleshes out on a daily basis, both now and in the future. It is up to us to cast and model the vision of godly manhood for our boys. I pray that we all will step up and meet this important challenge. Don’t let let your son guess about his yardage anymore!

Twelve Ways to be a Strong Man

Twelve-ways-to-be-a-strong-man

When I was a teenager, wiser men would tell me “Life just keeps going faster. You’ll never be less busy than you are now. Make the most of it.”

I believed them, even though I thought I was working pretty hard at the time, and I wondered what those future, “faster” years would feel like when I got there.

Now I’m almost thirty (how did that happen?), and I suspect that life still hasn’t reached full speed, but it’s definitely getting faster. Now there are more responsibilities, more relationships, more decisions to make, and more work to be done.

You’re probably in the same boat.

As a husband, you have a wife depending on you for love and leadership.

As a father, you have children depending on you for guidance and protection.

As an employee or entrepreneur, you have co-workers and/or customers who depend on you to do your best work.

As a Christian, you’re part of the body of Christ, with others depending on you to love and serve them in varying ways.

Add to these roles any other responsibilities that weigh on you every day, and this all adds up to a heavy load to carry. It’s hard to keep up with everything. It’s easy to get tired.

That’s why we need the strength that only God can give.

As Christians, we have a relationship with the God of the universe, who is the source and model of all strength. Also, in God’s Word, we have a clear definition of true strength and many godly examples of strong men we can emulate.

As my wife and I have studied strength in the Bible, we have been amazed at how much encouragement the Bible gives us to be strong (and boy do we need it right now!).

Here are some qualities of true strength, as defined in the Bible, that you and your sons can cultivate:

  • A strong man looks to God, not within himself, for strength. (1 Sam. 17:37, Prov. 14:26, Prov. 18:10, Gen. 18:14, Matt. 9:26, Heb. 13:6, 1 John 4:4)
  • A strong man seeks God’s glory, not his own. (1 Sam. 17:45-47, Prov. 10:29, Hebrews 11)
  • A strong man is faithful, even in the smallest things. (1 Sam. 17:20-22)
  • A strong man is identified by the attitude of his heart, not the strength of his muscles (1 Sam. 17:32, Judges 16:16-17)
  • A strong man pursues wisdom by seeking counsel from wiser men and women. (Prov. 20:29, 24:5)
  • A strong man is grounded in God’s Word. (Ps. 1:2-3, Matt. 4:1-11, 1 John 1:14)
  • A strong man is self-controlled (Prov. 16:32)
  • A strong man uses his strength to serve others. (1 Chr. 19:12-14, 2 Chr 16:9, Rom. 15:1-3, 1 John 3:16)
  • A strong man is a channel for God’s strength because the Holy Spirit is at work in him. (1 Cor. 2:5 Eph. 3:14-17, Zech. 4:6, Judg. 15:14)
  • A strong man doesn’t fear trials, because God uses hardships to make him stronger. (2 Cor. 12:9-10, Heb. 12:11)
  • A strong man fights indwelling sin and will not allow Satan a foothold in his life. (Gen. 39:10, Heb. 12:1, Neh. 13:23-26)
  • A strong man perseveres and does not give up. (Prov. 24:10, Gal. 6:9, Heb. 12:1-4)

These biblical qualities of true strength came out of the Bible studies in Because You Are Strong. If you want to study godly strength with your sons, reading the above Bible verses together would make a great Bible study in itself.

Also, I want to recommend Mark Atteberry’s book, The Samson Syndrome. I just finished reading this thoroughly biblical, highly practical study of Samson’s life, written by a pastor with many years of counseling experience. Atteberry exposes common pitfalls that cause strong men to stumble and shows how we can avoid these mistakes and reach the full potential God has for our lives.

May God make each of us stronger as we seek the true strength that is found in Him!

Photo credit

Daniel Forster is married to Katelyn, father to three little ones, and the manager of Doorposts Publishing near Portland, Oregon. He graduated from homeschooling in 2002, and is now getting excited about homeschooling his own kids. He enjoys reading, writing, playing fiddle, working outdoors, and spending time with his family. Daniel contributes to the blog Doorposts of Your House and is the author of Prepare Thy Work and Because You Are Strong.

Come Write with Us

We’re beefing up the content here at BoyDads and we’d want YOUR help!
Write with Us
We have this vision that the space we create here at BoyDads isn’t exclusive, or country-club-esque — although a secret handshake would be pretty sweet.

We’re all walking this parenting journey together — we may be at different stages and we may have different perspectives, but the goal is the same: raise godly men.

So, we’re looking for some guest posts from readers, bloggers, authors, pastors, grandpas…you name it, we’re open to reading it!  We’re hoping to find some incredible pieces of encouragement, advice, perspective, and humor to share with our  community.  Maybe you consider yourself a writer…maybe not…it doesn’t really matter — if God has laid something on your heart that you think would resonate with our readers, we want to hear from you!  Who knows what God might do with it — many of the people we ask to join our regular writing crew start out with a killer guest post!

So, here is what we need from you:

  • Your top-of-the-line, ORIGINAL, pre-edited work between 500-700 words (Note: We don’t accept posts previously published on another site.)
  • A post image: sized somewhere around 500 x 300 and make sure you’ve got all the credit info to be kosher (Note: Using your own photos is the best way to go!)
  • A brief bio and photo of yourself with any appropriate links to your own site and social media spaces

Keep this schtuff in mind if you’re planning on submitting something:

  • This is a family-friendly website. Our Editor, Nate, reserves the right to accept, deny, or edit all submitted posts. No questions asked.
  • If you’ve got older kids and plan to illustrate a point by talking about a mistake they made, write about it with grace and make sure to check with them first!
  • Use care and grace in the way you talk about your wife.  None of us are perfect, so make sure to ask yourself this question before you submit, “How would I feel if she wrote about my shortcomings and hangups this way on a public blog for all the world to see?”
  • If we choose to run your post, please shout it from the rooftops on your website (where applicable) to send your traffic to us that day. But don’t copy and paste the article word-for-word at your blog. This is a major SEO killer (search engine optimization) and hurts us both. In fact, stretch your creative muscles and give it an entirely different title if you can and don’t include any of the text from your post on your own site. Thanks, man!

Ready to send something our way?  Simply send an email to nate@findingedenmedia with the subject line: BoyDads Guest Post Submission — after reviewing your work and our editorial calendar, you’ll receive a reply to let you know if we can run your submission or not.  Please don’t check up on the process, we’ll let you know as soon as we can!  If we decide to move forward with your submission, we’ll let you know the date and time it will go live so you can share!

And hey, do you know a BoyDad who you think would have a killer post for us?  Send them our way!