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

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!

 

Lessons Learned From a Family Missions Trip

Family Missions Trip
I’m not sure why it takes me leaving the country to make everything in my brain and heart line up correctly, but it does. I get out of whack here in the US– or, at least, my priorities do. I get into routine, comfort, and expectations for what I believe should be normal, and it all goes south. And impressively fast.

For the past three years, I have taken one or both of my boys on a trip to Honduras to serve with a ministry that we love and support. When I step my foot off of the plane in Honduras, I remember with my very heart what it means when Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I get to smell, touch and see those who are (by all the world’s standards) poor, but yet very, very rich in what matters. That is something I want my boys to experience as well.

I want my boys to see that they don’t know hunger. As we step out of a van into trash, human waste, and decay, they see a child about 11 months of age. No shoes, no diaper, and a tattered shirt, waiting patiently in line to receive a meal from our team. Possibly the only meal that has not been retrieved from someone’s trash in quite some time.

I want them to know, and I want to be reminded, that I become impatient if my meal takes more than 15-20 minutes in a restaurant. To think that I flippantly say, “I’m starving” if I’ve gone more than about 4 hours without a meal. Yet, this child waits patiently, not complaining, and with a smile on her face. Grateful. I want to be and I want my boys to be hungry like this for Jesus. Hungry to always know our need for Jesus.

I also want our boys to feel. I want them to feel the joy of seeing other believers who love Jesus with a fire and passion that I want them to have. I want them to feel the happiness of a boy who does not carry our last name on his birth certificate, but who has his name branded on our hearts. A boy who knows how to embrace life with arms wide open despite abandonment that left them empty not so long ago. I want them to feel the sorrow of so many that stare into hopelessness day after day.

Finally, I want them to be humbled. Humbled by a God that would come down to this earth so that this would not be the end. That created a way for us to live for something beyond ourselves. To give a purpose, a hope, and a future. To have them come undone so that they might come together with a one-track heart and mind.

I know that taking your family to serve in another country is a big commitment of your time and your money. I also know that there is plenty of work to be done in our country as well. But I do think that there is great value in a father showing his son that men must be champions of service. That is better modeled than discussed.

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.” –C.S. Lewis

What lessons have you learned from serving with your kids? How has it shaped their worldview?

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————————

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

Investments That Are Worthwhile

Investments That Are Worthwhile

On May 25 my middle son turned 13. Now I have two teens in the house and a third one closing in (he will turn 12 in June). We try to make birthdays special in our home. Not by focusing on gifts, which we do give, but by reaffirming how uniquely and purposefully God made them.

Here’s one way we did that for Cademon on his birthday. I asked each one in the family to tell something they appreciate about Cademon and why they are glad he was born. It had to be something that related to Cademon’s personality or character (his ability to ice skate well is great, but not as important as his way of being a loyal friend).

Getting gifts is awesome and receiving them from friends and family does insinuate that you are loved. But, the luster of material things eventually fades, tears up, or loses its attraction. Just like other “gift-giving” holidays such as Christmas, Easter, or Valentine’s Day, we tend to focus on material gifts rather than gifts that are INVESTMENTS. Investing in gifts that develop the heart and character of who they are is  more likely to yield worthwhile results.  As a matter of fact Webster defines investment as an act of devoting time, effort, or energy to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.  That sounds a lot like the journey of parenting to me.

Two things that stood out to me about this particular definition of “investment” were the words expectation and worthwhile. Let’s look at the first…expectation. Most of us think in financial terms when we hear the word investment. And just as those in the arena of finance must consider, or better yet, speculate, the “who, what, when, and where’s” before investing, we as dads should consider likewise in relating to our sons. Financial advisers/planners will utilize all the resources, tools, and information at their disposal to make the best choice for the best result…BUT…they only do so with the expectation of a positive result…there is no guarantee! They understand the outcome is out of their control. They must rely on their due diligence and hope their decision was the right one.

photo(3)

Investing in relationships is much the same. We as fathers give and give and…well, give some more. We sacrifice and labor in love. Our time, effort, and energy compile into countless hours of fatherly duties. But we only do so with an expectation…not a guarantee…that our investments will yield the “fruit” we desire in our sons.

One of the most challenging things to accept in the process of parenting is surrendering the “right” that our children turn out OK, or safe, or comfortable, or even Godly. Yep, that’s a tough statement to swallow. I didn’t say it’s wrong to want these things for your children; but if these expectations cause us to falsely think they are “rights” then we are setting ourselves up for a potentially dangerous let down.

Finally, I noticed the word worthwhile. I love this unassuming word because it invokes a sense of caution. Carefully considering how and where we should give ourselves will make the biggest difference in the life of our sons. I’ve heard many times that having purpose is paramount to accomplishing our goals in life. I would clarify that by saying it’s not enough to have purpose. You must have the right purpose. It’s like the guy who worked so hard to make it to the top of the ladder only to realize he leaned against the wrong wall.

Every day so many things vie for our attention, our energy, and our gifts. Most of those things don’t deserve them. Only those things that yield worthwhile results are worthy of our devotion.

So, what’s worthwhile? I think our sons are a good place to invest!

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.

One Of The Greatest Gifts To Our Sons

On April 22 my wife and I celebrated our 18th Anniversary. It’s natural to reflect on the many adventures we’ve shared during those years. As with all marriages, we’ve had our share of challenges. We’ve fought through financial setbacks, weathered thirteen moves, and experienced three different career paths. But the most rewarding aspect of these 18 years has been our three boys. For most of those years, fifteen to be exact, a son has been listening to and observing us together. You could say they have been the source of much of our happiness and delight. They’ve been the source of some of those challenges as well. Nevertheless, they bring an added sense of purpose and meaning to our family. And for that reason I am thankful for the woman that God has given me as a wife and mother.

IMG_0665

When I consider the purpose and responsibility of a family, it’s imperative that I acknowledge how my sons observe the way my wife and I treat each other. How we speak to one another, support one another, and handle conflict are all paramount in raising our boys. Obviously, we aren’t perfect. We have made countless mistakes. Many times our boys have observed our messiness. Unfortunately, they’ve expressed those mistakes and failures in their own life at times.

Therefore, I want to share with you one of the greatest gifts you can give your son(s). For some of you this may seem obvious. To others, it might be unassuming. Either way, do not take for granted how important this is in raising your boys.

Gifts To Our Sons
One of the greatest gifts you can give your boys is the example of loving, honoring, and esteeming your wife. I understand there is more to unpack here than I have time for in a blog post. But here are some questions (and some added comments) that might open the way for reflection. I find myself pondering these often. Ask God to help you be real, honest and humble. By the way, it’s not easy to be real, but the reward is always underestimated.

How does your son feel about girls/women in general? Does he view them as inferior or second-class?

(Your son is learning, whether or not you’re aware, so you be the one to teach him. Is he being taught a clear understanding of how God intends for men and women to relate to each other: work related, friendship, dating, marriage, etc?)

How does he hear you talk about your wife when she is not around?

(This tends to be most telling when you and your wife are experiencing conflict. What does he learn about humility, honor, esteeming another person, responsibility, blaming, courage, and selflessness?)

Is the physical more important than the other aspects of her being?

(Women love to hear that they’re beautiful, but include the inside as well as the outside. Boys need to see the beauty of Christ is multi-faceted as it’s expressed in all of us. This includes a woman’s intellect, emotions, creativity, gifts, talents, and aspirations)

Do you find ways to serve her in front of your son?

(I say in front of your son not to show off or to be a fake, but genuinely offering yourself in a way that honors and esteems her as a woman of God. The small things go a long way. If you don’t know how or what that is, then ask her. This is the beginning step to teaching your son about having a servant’s heart)

Do you participate in discussions, often with other guys, where it casts women in a demeaning or slanderous light?

(Our boys are growing up in a generation where TV, media, and entertainment cast women as objects and men as bozos. Teaching them to treat girls with respect, tenderness, and selflessness begins with being a leader in the marriage)

Do you ask for her opinion or insight when making decisions? Does she feel she is in partnership with you or just a bystander reaping the consequences of what you decide?

(Are you always right? Is it your way or the highway? Teaching our sons to be inclusive to others in problem solving is not only honoring to them, but also helps teach selflessness and tolerance)

Do you compliment and praise her? Her looks, her accomplishments, her attention to the home, the kids, the meals, YOU!

(The best way to ensure your son learns gratitude is to express your gratefulness to your wife. Show it, say it, and share it…make it a habit)

How does she know you are leading her? What are the ways she would say you are leading in the home?

(This takes humility, so be prepared for her honesty. Having a date night speaks volumes about relationship to your son. He will notice much of what has been discussed above: esteeming her, showing her value, being selfless, and making the people we love a priority)

By no means are these questions meant to be exhaustive, or to “guilt” you into a performance-based way of relationships. Rather, I hope they spark some self-evaluation as you consider the messages your son might be getting as he observes you and your wife together. What a responsibility AND opportunity we have as fathers. We have a direct influence on the next generation of leaders…our sons. We also have an empowering influence on the next generation of husbands and fathers. I would argue there is nothing more important to a man’s success in life.

IMG_0684

 

What A Man’s Gotta Do

WhatamansgottadoMy wife, weak from the stomach flu, came out of the bathroom where she’d been hiding out—hiding by my request, I should say.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, shakily. “I feel like I shouldn’t have left you out there to do that.”

She had just stepped into the bathroom for the bedtime rituals when one of our younger children stumbled to the door of our bedroom and was gloriously sick—on me, on the laundry beside the door, the surroundings generally. Knowing Melanie was in a dicey state already, I had called out to her, “You stay where you are—we’ll take care of it.” Two of my sons scrambled for towels, trash bags, all the stuff needed to get the situation at least stabilized, and in a few minutes we got the sick child off to a different bathroom, the first load in the laundry, and Ground Zero restored to a more hygienic state.

It made me think about my father, who passed away while I was in college. Dad was a strong man with a weak stomach. My mother used to tell me that if my sister or I were sick, or even needed a serious diaper change, Dad would take care of the cleanup without hesitation or complaint, and when the crisis was over, excuse himself to the bathroom and be privately ill. Mom tried to spare him that indignity whenever possible, but the thing that she remembered and shared with us was that, even so, he went ahead and did it.

I’ve often thought that most Christians are not likely to face lions in the Arena – we brace ourselves up for that – but more often, we’re pecked to death by chickens. My dad never took a bullet for any of us, he never took newsworthy public stands or did remarkable feats of heroism, but he lived a life of quiet faithfulness to the needs of his family. I’m sure he would have run into burning buildings for any of us, but he answered the call of marriage and fatherhood by doing the routine, boring, even nauseating stuff, just as a matter of course.

The old Western-movie cliché is “Sometimes a man’s gotta do, what a man’s gotta do.” I learned from my dad that most of what a man’s gotta do is not the stuff of movies or newsreels, but the simple willingness to sacrifice his own desires and comfort for the needs of someone else. I hope my sons are learning the same lesson from me.

 

Photo Credit

Lights – Camera – Romance??

So here we are in February. And what is February famous for (other than being really cold)? Valentine’s Day, of course. (Okay dads, if you missed this one, this blog is probably too late to save you from spending a night or two in the doghouse.)

All the marketing around romance really strikes a chord with many women. You know … candy, flowers, a babysitter and dinner out, diamonds, cards, sonnets–and the list goes on and on–but let’s talk about how guys see romance for a minute.

I do not speak for all of us guys, but thinking about the action movies I have seen–yep, there have been many–they have a couple of things in common: lots of action, a noble cause, and the damsel in distress. Without the damsel to rescue, it all seems sort of pointless, doesn’t it?

 

RescueThis makes me think of the Bible. To summarize the Bible, I will borrow from a friend who says the Bible is the “ultimate romance novel.” You have the damsel locked in the tower and oppressed by the dragon. The prince, and son of the king, is challenged with a mighty quest to slay the dragon, rescue the princess, and take her back to his kingdom where there is a mighty feast and wedding, followed by happily ever after. This makes sense. This is an action movie at its finest. And it just oozes romance.

Who is Jesus Christ to me? Who do I tell my sons that He is? He is our knight in shining armor; He is our rescuer. He overcame the dragon for us, and He is worthy of loyalty and service. We are the damsel, and Christ rescued us.

Within the last month, my wife and I brought two more children into our home. They have been in the foster care program in our state for a couple of years and desperately wanted a forever family. We felt the call on our lives to expand our family and love some additional children into our family.

In a divine encounter that only God knew was coming, our lives and the lives of these two children changed forever. A sacrificial love that we learned from the greatest lover of all. A love that says, “get out of your comfort zone and try a little romance.” Not Hollywood romance. Not Harlequin romance. The romance that says, “I chose you. I promise to love you forever.”

Without the rescue, the rest is pointless.

Disclaimer: While I did serve in the Marine Corp and trained in demolitions, true romance does not require anything to be blown up. Despite the popularity of explosions in many of my favorite action movies.

John Goyer is a husband, dad, grandfather and computer geek with a passion for families and marriage. He is the father of 6 children (ages 23 to 2), 2 of which he adopted and 2 which will soon be adopted. By day he serves at FamilyLife (www.familylife.com) and by night he chases, tosses, tickles, bathes, loves and leads his children towards a faith in Jesus Christ.

The Servant Dad {A Role, But First A Response}

Being a Servant Dad ~www.boydads.com

{The celebration continues! In honor of our launch, Patrick Schwenk is giving away three copies of The Dig for Kids, his devotional book for families! See details on how to enter below.}

My father’s wedding ring looks so much smaller in the palm of my hand than it had looked around his finger.  As a child, I would curiously spin this ring of gold around his finger.  I would slip it off, then back on again.  I would sometimes wear it loosely around my skinny fingers, wondering what it would be like to wear one of my own someday.

For 49 years my dad had worn this ring around his finger.  A simple, but sacred, symbol of the vow he had made to my mom at the altar on their wedding day.  Both of them made costly commitments of love to one another that day.

I take you to be my wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ’till death do us part.

This ring must have been so much heavier to wear than it is for me to hold now.  Its symbolic significance is one of service to a family and for a family.  To be a servant-Dad and husband is not just a role- first, it is a response.  It is a response to the grace poured out on us in Jesus as servant to us.  This grace, received, and then responded to, informs our role as men to our families. As Tim Keller writes, “Jesus redefined all authority as servant-authority.” 

Paul wrote to a group of Christians in the city of Ephesus (Ch. 5), encouraging them to model what Jesus had done for them.  The gospel has to be in us before it comes out of us.  And so Paul uses the picture of Jesus’ sacrificial love and service as a model to motivate husbands and fathers to embody the same for their families.

“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.”

This passage is a reminder that wearing a ring is also taking up a cross. Though much could be said here, I am reminded as we start a new year that God calls us to serve our families in the following three ways:

Serve with grace – God does not love us based on our performance or behavior. To serve our families with grace is to unconditionally love them and lead them even when it is difficult.  His grace transforms our hearts and doesn’t just train our behavior.    He is tender, patient, compassionate, and slow to anger.

Serve with sacrifice – God’s love was costly.  It was not merely an emotion or sentiment.  Jesus loved with actions.  As the suffering servant, Jesus looked to the interest of others before his own.  This grace, poured out for us and in us, motivates us (and empowers us) to do the same for our families.

Serve with truth – Serving like Jesus is not merely a duty; it has a destination.  Jesus sacrificially served so that we might walk in the truth and be found growing in the direction of holiness.  We are called to serve our families by spiritually leading them, teaching them, and modeling Jesus to them.  This servant-leadership is for the purpose of leading them toward a living and growing relationship with their Savior.

In this New Year, may God’s grace, which has been poured out on you, empower you to serve your family as Jesus serves his church.  May your role as a dad not just be a responsibility, but may it be a joyful response to the good news of Jesus at work in you.  And may your ring be a constant reminder of your commitment and calling to serve with grace, sacrificial love, and truth.

Blessings in Christ,

Patrick Schwenk, The Dig for Kids

Of the three types of service we looked at today, which is the hardest for you to demonstrate?

********

We’re giving away three copies of Patrick’s popular devotional for families, The Dig for Kids! All launch giveaways end 1/31/13. You’re welcome to enter as many times as you like.

The-Dig-3D

To Enter: 

1. Subscribe to Boy Dads in a reader or by email.

2. Share this post (using the “The Servant Dad” graphic above OR with a link to this direct URL) via social media.

3. Leave a comment answering the end-of-post question above.

(Take photos of your boys on Instagram? Tag them with the #boydad hashtag to see them show up on our sidebar! PLEASE, family-friendly pics only)