Step Up: Serve

Step-up-serveLet’s face it: we men have difficulty serving.

I work hard to provide for my family. I pay the bills, and I keep the cars maintained. I change light bulbs and fix leaky toilets. I make sure the trash is taken out. I wash dishes fairly regularly. I even get the kids ready for bed most nights.

But do my boys see me serve in church? Do I tell them I serve my Lord and Savior, but only in words and not in deeds?

I came across a website that included some interesting facts about men and their service in church. There are quite a few statistics, and feel free to go to the website (click here) to get all of them, and see their footnotes. I will include just a couple:

  • This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.

  • Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants.

  • Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.

  • Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.

  • A study from Hartford Seminary found that the presence of involved men was statistically correlated with church growth, health, and harmony. Meanwhile, a lack of male participation is strongly associated with congregational decline.

Even more than attending church, we need to serve. I find it a little funny how we refer to our Sunday morning gathering as a “Church Service,” yet so few of us serve there. I am challenged to look at the “Service” as a verb and not a noun. How I serve others in the church body is a response to how I understand the heart of Jesus Christ. On his final day, before He was crucified, Jesus served.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13.3-5 (NIV)

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13.14-17 (NIV)

What a great picture of the master serving others! Our sons need to see us serving. Maybe it is serving as an usher. Maybe it is serving as an elder. Maybe it is serving as a janitor. Maybe even serving in the nursery (doesn’t sound very manly, does it?), but we need to serve. We are called to serve. We need to validate our words.

If possible, find opportunities for you to serve with your children. Let them see you actively serve, and give them a chance to pattern their lives after yours, and find the joy in serving your church as a family.

Is God worth serving? Or do I have other things in my life that I would rather serve, that take priority over God’s command to me to serve? Our sons will see right through our words, and either they will believe us when we say we serve the one true God, or they will see us serving something else.
It is not easy. It may even seem awkward. But it is time to step up, and serve.

The New-to-Them Car: A Lesson in Integrity

Most dads want to teach their sons and daughters that being truthful and honest is something our God desires and asks of us. Our personal integrity is highly valuable and should be maintained throughout our lives. I can remember those awkward moments when one of my sons had been caught telling a lie. You know those talks — the “I-am-more-disappointed-in-you-because-you-didn’t-tell-me-the-truth-than-I-am-about-what-you-did-in-the-first-place” ones.

A New-to-Them Car: A Lesson in Integrity

Recently, I received a call from my son, Jordan who lives in Montana with his wife, Katie, and their dog, Juno.  With careers at separate non-profit organizations, they have been able to work in their respective areas of interests and passions, but their combined income these days isn’t as large as their father/father-in-law would like to see.  The call I received from my son that day was about their car. A few days earlier it started to make some noise — coming from the area of the transmission; noise that a 7 year-old vehicle with less than 90,000 miles shouldn’t be making. They had purchased the car several years earlier and had it serviced regularly, but they still a balance on their loan for it. So, Jordan took the car to a mechanic and had him drive the car to take a listen.  The conclusion was that it was probably a bearing and could go bad at any time. The mechanic also explained that this type of transmission repair would require a complete replacement when it failed — to the tune of $2500-$3500!

Jordan’s question to me was simple: What should I do? As we talked and evaluated the options of trading the car in, selling it outright, or repairing it, I began to see the fruit of those earlier lessons play out in his decision-making process. His first step was to find out what a dealer would give him on a trade towards another car. But, after looking at the cost of a replacement vehicle, he felt the difference needed would be more than they could afford. They didn’t have an extra $3000 sitting around, so repairing it seemed to be low on the list of practical solutions. The final option was to sell it outright, but that meant deciding whether to reveal the potential problem or not.

Ah, the integrity question.

Honestly, none of the options seemed ideal, but Jordan insisted he would have to reveal the mechanical issue regardless of which option they chose.

That’s when God showed up.

Jordan received a call from Katie’s dad. He told them that a close friend was about to trade in a 3 year-old Subaru, but she didn’t like the trade in value. She offered it to Jordan and Katie for a few hundred dollars more than the trade in amount. It was a great deal and now all that remained was to get rid of the car with the problem. Jordan decided  he would take it to a local dealer and ask him to purchase it. Unfortunately, the dealer wasn’t interested, but had a personal friend who was looking for a similar vehicle. Jordan took the car to him later that evening and told him the whole story. The man looked at Jordan, said he liked the car, wasn’t concerned about the transmission issue, and wanted to buy it for his daughter. Jordan told him the book value of the car, what the repair would cost, and what he thought a fair price would be. The guy agreed and they shook hands.

Today, Jordan and Katie are driving a new car that fits their budget and in their hearts they are thanking the God who loves them for working it all out. I’m convinced that God, who loves us unconditionally, really enjoys it when we decide in our hearts to do things His way. Not every story will turn out with a new car, but every time we decide to follow our Heavenly Father’s instruction (His Word) we are acting out true faith. And whenever we act out (in) faith we are pleasing to our Father.

Try it and watch what happens.

How have you walked through lessons on integrity with your sons? Have you or they had opportunities to live out what you’ve learned from Scripture?

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.

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!

Finding The Truth: A Lesson for My Son

Finding-the-truth

If you have little ones, or remember the days when you had little ones, you may be able to relate to the following scenario…

My youngest son, whom I affectionately refer to as a “tornado in tennis shoes,” is regularly getting himself into mischief. Yesterday, I walked into a room where he was holding a desk lamp, and shining it at his sisters.

“Why are you playing with my lamp?” I asked.

“I’m not,” he responded, still holding the lamp in his hand. Even caught red-handed, a lie is the first thing that comes out. He says it because he hopes he can avoid any discomfort. He is trying to take the easy way out.

I repeat words that sound too familiar. I give him consequences for his sin and tell him how lies hurt our relationship.

“We should always tell the truth,” I say, “even when it may mean trouble for us.”

Since he is (almost) 3 years old, I have no doubt this scenario will be repeated often for quite a while. Soon, it will start to sink in, and hopefully as he grows he’ll learn to value truth. But this starts by me modeling truth to him. He is counting on my integrity–the truth that I am committed to him. He’ll learn the truth that I will provide for him and care for him, and that I will follow through on promised blessings. Deep down, today my son knows he can count on me for all those things … he just doesn’t have the word for it yet: truth.

I am reminded that this scenario was first encountered in the Garden of Eden, clear back in Genesis. Adam does not take responsibility for his actions, but blames Eve, who blames the serpent. We are so easily swayed to redirect blame for our sin elsewhere. They were both trying to take the easy way out. God saw through this. He saw their hearts, their motives, and brought consequences to them as well.

I take comfort in realizing that using lies to take the ‘easy way out’ of his problems is not unique to my son, but I am also very sober in my thinking: this is the very heart of the sin he was born into. My mission in his life is to bring him on a journey of understanding his own sinful state, and seeking the redemption and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” John 14:6 (NIV).

There are so many that seek God through paths other than Jesus, but He alone is the very definition of truth. Jesus never said that following His truth would be easy. In fact, he said it would be, and should be, the hard path to take.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 (NIV)

Taking up a cross daily is not taking the easy way out!

So, I am also challenged by the truth of Jesus Christ. It is so easy for me to drift into a life of compromise, thinking that I am not too bad, at least not as bad as the person I am comparing myself to. Do you hear Adam’s thoughts in that statement, as he blamed Eve?

It is only when I compare my heart, my actions, and my motives to those of Jesus Christ that I see my own life in the truth that it needs to be seen in. I so often find myself coming short of God’s best for me, and I need to re-align with the truth of God.

I need to continually embrace the truth of Jesus Christ, so that I may share that with my son. My son needs to ultimately embrace the truth of Jesus Christ, as he understands the deceit in his heart. And when he truly embraces the truth of Jesus Christ, I’ll get to see my son shine the best kind of light–the light of truth–on those around him.

And that is hope worth patiently and lovingly fighting for. Raising my son to be a man of truth is not the taking easy way out.

Investing In Time

Investing in Time

Many years ago, back when we were just homeschooling our two older boys, I was walking with my wife through the book fair of our state convention. In a corner booth, I saw an old friend—the Bible flannel-board set I remembered from Sunday School.

If you didn’t grow up in that kind of church, this was a favorite visual aid in the younger grades. There was a background scene, printed on fuzzy felt, which showed a band of sky over a deep blue ocean. Overlays could change the landscape to a lakeshore, a riverside, or even a desert. The teacher could then illustrate the Bible lesson with figures and props, printed on the same material, which she’d stick up on the background as the story unfolded. And here they were, just like I remembered them!

Since we had four kids under 8 years old, I thought this would be a great addition to our family devotions and morning Bible times. The booth even offered a smaller-scale set for home use.

Then I had a brilliant idea. There were actually two options; you could sign-and-drive the whole set for about $150, but if you bought the printed material uncut, you could take it home for just $90. All you had to do was trim the figures before you needed to use them.

Not only was this an immediate saving, but I was in the middle of a job change and living away from my family during the week. I could do this little bit of finishing work in the evenings in front of the TV, since I was by myself anyway. The timing was perfect.

So I bought the set, proud of my economy as well as my forward-thinking spiritual leadership.

Ahem.

Do you have any idea how many people there are in the Bible?

Or how many objects they handled?

Oh my word.

Those four little boys are all licensed drivers now, and three of them have left home for college, but there are still Bible figures imprisoned side-by-side in their fuzzy felt sheets. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but when I got home, I found I’d bit off more than I was prepared to manage. I’ll cheerfully set off to read a 400-page book, but I didn’t have the patience to cut out 400 fabric people.

It was an important lesson for me. My time and attention are worth something, and sometimes worth more than money. It would have been a better investment for me to spend another $60 and have a usable tool for our family, than to launch a project I was capable of doing but which didn’t match my temperament and motivation.

And here’s the rub: the same thing is true for our wives’ time. We might be able to point to our paycheck and say, “My time is worth $15 or $25 or $150 an hour—I really shouldn’t be doing this particular task.” But my beloved friend who stays home to care for our children, without a paycheck to brandish, has valuable time and attention as well. Who else will nurse our babies? Who is going to train up our children? Who will make this house a home and a safe harbor for our whole family?

If I can put out a few dollars to free up my wife’s time, it’s a good investment. It may mean buying paper plates or installing a second-hand dishwasher I found on Craig’s List. It might mean running by McDonald’s on the way home from work on the really busy day of the week. Or it might mean encouraging her to buy curriculum and workbooks which make school time go smoother for her and the kids—even if it isn’t the cheapest alternative.

Reducing the frustration and drudgery in her life may give her more time to exercise her unique gifts, whether it’s cooking, or counseling, or investigative journalism, or managing a business … all of which my wife has done.

Meanwhile, I look at the charming young daughters God gave us, now about the age those little boys were then, as they cut out their paper dolls and folded snowflakes. I wonder … can they count to 400?

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!

 

I’ve Dropped the Moon He Thinks I Hold

 Boydadsmoon

 

Photo Credit: jessehoover.com

I step through my front door. Another work day has concluded and the first thing I think about is sitting down, soon followed by how many hours till I get me time. Meaning, how many hours ‘till the kids are in bed, until I get to have an hour and half to myself before I set the alarm for another grinding day at work.

Guilt ensues after I look at this thing called fatherhood as just an hour glass waiting to be turned. 

My son approaches and greets me at the door and says, “Hey daddy, did you have a good day? I hope you had a good day.” I betray him with a smile to hide my discontentment at the day. I’m invariably hoping he doesn’t ask me to play with him in that instant.

More guilt consumes me.

My guilt reveals my true colors of selfishness.

It’s funny how parenting does that to us, shows us what we are made of.

It has showed me how I can be a selfish jerk.

I battle constantly inside with my selfishness. I hate that somedays I look at my son and can’t wait for him to be more independent so he doesn’t need me as much. 

It’s painful even writing those words.

I feel like I’m racing to the finish line, and not the finish line Paul was talking about.

This finish line of comfort wrapped up in selfish vain conceit.

To my son, I hold the moon.

I wonder how long it will be till the moon dissolves through my fingers and I’m left empty handed?

I want to be the moon holder.

I want to be all that is grand in his eyes– the way he sees me.

God, help me look at my son as an opportunity to raise a godly warrior for You. Change my selfishness. 

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”  Mathew 18:10 

Son, I want to be your moon holder. I want to live up to all that you see me as. Let me guide you by the hand and joyfully walk with you as you become the man God already sees you as. You are filled with a vibrant passion that is contagious. I pray that my selfishness will not forbid me from actively and purposefully pursuing your heart to see the man you will one day become.

Don’t ever give up searching for the moon in me, nor will I ever give up on holding it.

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You can find Jesse writing about his attempts (and 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

About

The Gray Line Between Attraction and Lust

Guard Your Heart's Door

 

My son and I traverse the aisles looking at shoes for me. Small talk carries us through to pass the time as I can’t quite make up my mind about what looks good or what’s comfortable. He points out some wild shoes that could have passed as advertising from Skittles. Yes, it had that many colors, bright colors.

He tries to convince me to buy them.

I could only imagine the looks I would get wearing those crazy shoes.

I laugh and choose a different pair, to his dismay.

We make our way to the counter and are greeted by a young woman.

Her attractiveness is written all over my son’s eyes.

With his hands in the pockets of his shorts and his feet planted firmly in his cowboy boots, he seems mesmerized. He’s entranced by her.

I grow increasingly embarrassed and nudge him rather hard in his side. I can’t shake him. He’s staring intensely. She smiles politely, hands me my receipt and I thank her.

With his hands still in his pockets, he wears a cowboy swagger as we exit the door. He looks up at me and says, “She’s pretty, I really like her hair.”

I’m half laughing and half scared.

Scared because now I feel a little unprepared for how to deal with him ‘noticing’ girls.

Thoughts run through my head as we walk to the car.

How do I tell my son that the attractions he has are normal and ok, but there is a gray line between attraction and lust that will one day make war with his heart and soul?

I don’t want my son to ever feel shame for seeing a woman as beautiful and attractive. I also don’t want my son to ever blame a woman for his lustful thoughts or his wandering eye. I want him to see a woman the way he ought to: To look upon her with dignity and to see her as unique individual who has been crafted by God. And if she is beautiful, then that is okay to recognize that. Nothing more.

I want him to also know that when his attractions break that barrier, it is a barren wasteland that will never satisfy. I want him to know that he needs to guard his eyes, heart, and soul against lustful passions that will clash with him from the inside as he grows into a young man.

He needs to know that he doesn’t have to be ashamed for being attracted to a beautiful woman, for God has made us to admire beauty. What I want him to be mindful of is losing respect for a woman by how he chooses to imagine her. The loss happens when he values only her beauty and worships her body with his eyes in the most degrading way.

My son needs to know ‘the gray line’ will never go away; it will be constantly banging on his heart’s door, wanting to draw him in. If he lets his temptations take over, and he opens the door, destruction is near.

 “But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15

I want him to guard his heart with the fiercest sword.

I want him to never let his guard down.

When failure comes, because it will, I want him to know that he is still loved by the King. He is His beloved. And He sees him as so.

Son, you are loved by me and the King. Guard your heart and your eyes and it will be well with you. Know that you will have failures, but when you do, turn your heart back to the Maker.

“Hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” 1 Thesolonians 5:21-22

  •  How have you talked to your son about lust and attraction to women?
  •  What are some things that have worked for you?
  •  What is your approach?

 

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You can find Jesse writing about his attempts (and 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

About

Sharing the Glory of the Mundane

Gloryofmundane

I sometimes look around me and wonder how in the world I can communicate a concept to my sons. I have a great batch of guys here, two adults and four younger sons, and I am humbled and delighted by the men they are growing to be, every one of them. God has blessed our efforts to raise them to know their Savior and their duty, and to embrace them both.

But there’s something I recognize in myself that I never expected when I was younger, and no one ever really spoke to me about. Like most young guys, I had visions of the different roles I hoped to play. The childhood dreams of military glory and academic honor moderated to the actual achievements of a decent education and an honorable four years as a lieutenant.  My late-high school decision to pursue an engineering degree led to a useful twenty years in government and industry service, before striking out in a different direction as an entrepreneur (and occasional consultant) – not as chief engineer of a large industrial site, but as CEO of a tiny company of my own.

More intriguing than those kinds of vision changes—after all, who hasn’t changed careers or employers, or recognized their boyhood fantasy wasn’t the stuff of reality—more interesting to me is the change I found in my daily outlook.

When I went to college, my parents gave me a monthly allowance for incidental expenses—a massive $100 a month. Yes, it was a few years ago, but not that long ago. It was sufficient for someone of conservative tastes living in the dorms. I remember my dad remarking, a bit wryly, “You know, I think you have more disposable income here than I do.”

No way, I thought. Dad was always truthful, but surely that couldn’t be accurate.

As an adult, I realized that he was probably right. I’d still like a hundred dollars a month to just spend “however.” But what I never expected was that as an adult, I would look at that and say It’s okay. I would consider the money we had tied up in our house, groceries, taxes, electricity, and say, “It’s the cost of being a grown-up and having a family, and I accept it.” I would see a more affluent friend and not envy the BMW he drove to work, but admire his new 15-passenger van instead.

Recently I read an article by a professor at Liberty University, arguing for the value of marriage as a cornerstone of our adult lives – not a capstone, to add once we achieve our career plans and financial goals, but as a foundational part of our lives that we build upon with those other dreams and aspirations. One phrase leaped out at me: she spoke of learning “to luxuriate in the quotidian.” In other words, we discover satisfaction, and really, delight, in the everyday duties and responsibilities of marriage and family. I never expected that, but I’ve found it to be true. And that is an idea I hope I communicate to my sons—sure, dream, aspire, work hard for noble and ambitious goals, but realize that at the end of the day, there is a treasury of happiness in the simple and profound calling of husband, father, and householder.