Posts tagged Fatherhood
Recently, Douglas Groothuis shared some advice that he gave a young man about to begin college. I thought it was tremendous, practical, simple, and yet profound wisdom. I hope my son, who is currently almost three, will heed this wisdom as he grows into a young man. So Hayden, when you read this twelve or fifteen years in the future, my heart’s desire is for you to act on this wisdom.
I will post Dr. Groothuis’s advice in bold and add some of my thoughts.
1. Study the Bible for the rest of your life.
Son, what is found within the pages of scripture is life. Choose it. Study it. Swallow it. Digest it. It will return a yield like you cannot imagine. Don’t read it simply to acquire knowledge. Do what it says (James 1:22).
2. Attend a Bible believing, teaching church.
Churches are like people. None of them are perfect. Find one that teaches truth and is living out what scripture teaches. Get involved in what God is doing. You need the support, encouragement, and accountability that you will find in church. You also need to be faithful to sing praises unto God and hear His word spoken. Find a church that doesn’t dumb down the gospel. Look for a church that thinks and engages culture.
3. Read Christian classics.
Don’t be deceived in thinking that “old books” offer no wisdom. On the contrary, they are pearls of wisdom. We stand on the shoulders of those before us. Be sure to check out Chesterton, Pascal, and Augustine to name a few.
4. Learn basic worldviews and why Christianity is rationally superior and true in all its affirmations.
This is a call to live an apologetic lifestyle. Know what you believe. Know what others believe. Why is Christianity more compelling than alternative worldviews? I have studied it for myself and continue to ask the hard questions. I have wrestled with doubt. You must do the same.
5. Beware of worldliness.
To avoid worldliness you have to be diligent, focused, and not chase everything that glitters.
6. Always be thinking of how to advance the mission and kingdom of God.
Regardless of your vocation, there is work to be done in God’s kingdom. Regardless, God’s will is going to be accomplished and someone will do His work. You get to decide whether you want the privilege of being involved.
7. Don’t waste your time and life. See Psalm 90
Life goes by in a blink. Make your time matter. How do you do that? See number 6.
8. Listen to other people, culture, God, yourself.
Many people have good things to say. You have good ideas. God always has good things to say and His ideas are never wrong.
9. Pick your friends carefully and be a true friend. See I Corinthians 13.
Good friends are hard to find. I can count on one hand the life-long friends that I have that have been closer than a brother. Distance and time does not diminish friendship. True friends forgive and are honest with one another. They have each other’s best interest at heart.
10. Remain sexually celibate until marriage and chaste within marriage.
Want a great sex life son? Then don’t have sex until you get married. I know this may not seem true, but trust me. This is where my wisdom knows better than your naiveté. Don’t ruin an amazing gift.
11. Marry someone not terribly unlike you.
This will diminish the potential conflicts in your marriage.
12. Marry only a Christian.
This is the most important quality in your potential wife. There will be times where your mutual faith is the only thing that can get you through difficult times.
13. Give as much as you can, make as much as you can, invest as much as you can.
There is nothing wrong with money. Make as much as you can without sacrificing your family. Know your priorities. Life is about relationships and not having things. Yet, I want you to work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Help others. Finance God’s kingdom. Invest your money and live wisely. Live like no one else early on so you can live like no one else later in life.
14. Read Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:14 often: on youth and age before God.
Don’t put God off. Live for Him now. This is how you build a life devoid of regret.
15. Don’t lose the best things in life by oversaturation in electronic media.
Electronic media is great. It has its place. Enjoy it. Yet, make sure you do more of what you love (spend time with family, grow your natural talents, expand your interests, etc) and less of what you like (electronic media).
16. Read as much as possible on many topics.
You will be smarter, better at conversing, and find that knowledge is very empowering. Leaders are readers.
17. If you want higher education, do not put it off.
Love knowledge. Get as much school as you can. I hope I have set an example for you in this. I hope by the time you read this list and take it seriously that I will have attained three masters degrees and a Ph.D. You will never regret education.
18. Try to stay out of major debit.
Debt enslaves you. It can keep you from serving God. When your life is consumed with debt you will find you serve money more than God, even if that is not your heart’s desire. Deny your wants. Live within your means. Save for what you want.
Son, I hope you will take these thoughts into consideration. You have to be intentional about life. Enjoy it, but be aggressive. Nothing moves unless it is shoved. You won’t get a “do over.” Make your life count. God wants to use you. Live it to the fullest.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
The first job I ever had was selling “media” at Best Buy. Though I am glad to have moved on to other career endeavors, it wasn’t a bad first job for a single guy that enjoyed all things geek. My first day at work was trial by fire, my only instruction was not to wreck the forklift and to sell stuff, and I did just that. Yet, I wonder to what degree my sales would have increased had I received more input and instruction. It would have been nice to have gotten more information on various merchandise, service plans, navigating overstock, using software, and what my exact responsibilities were. More information never hurts.
What about when it comes to marriage? What instruction were you given before making one of the biggest commitments of your life? I am a strong advocate of pre-marital counseling. I feel it is a requirement, but many people don’t go through the counseling process. Even for those of us that do, there is still a great deal to figure out. Learning to communicate, manage finances, establish boundaries and assign priorities all sound fine when discussed in an office with the person you love, but applying the many concepts discussed in pre-marital counseling is in itself another challenge.
This is why I think it important to identify what our “job description” should be within our marriages. If we don’t identify what our duties are and what is most important we will find ourselves doing things that are of little lasting significance, or perhaps spending our time on good things instead of great things. With that being said, here is my personal job description.
1. To lead my families’ spiritual development. Sure, it is easy to say that, but what does it actually mean? At the foundation it means that I keep myself spiritually healthy. Am I spending time with God daily? Am I growing in my understanding and application if scripture? Am I listening to what God wants for my family and I? It also means that I spend time in prayer with my wife. Together we should pray for our children and that they would be sensitive to what God wants for them. Promoting the spiritual development of my family means that they see me applying God’s word instead of just reading it or discussing it. It also consists of teaching my children why our family lives the way we do and why we believe in the God of the Bible. It means equipping them with answers about why the Bible is trustworthy, why we should take the claims of Christ to be historically accurate, knowing the evidence for the resurrection, explaining why bad things happen to good people, and why God is trustworthy. It will involve helping them understand where they came from, what their purpose is in life, what their identity is in Christ, and where they are headed. They should also know my journey that brought me to Christ and the mistakes I have made in the past.
2. To meet the needs of my wife. This means listening to what she has to say without trying to fix things. Giving her time without being distracted. Making time to do things that make her feel special. Not trying to change her unique personality or gifting that does not coincide with my own. Allowing her time to do things that recharge and rejuvenate her. I need to invest in her emotionally and express my own emotions. Communicate that she is loved, valued, respected, and needed. She needs be understand that she is the most significant thing in my life outside of Christ.
3. To provide financially. She needs to feel secure. It is imperative that she sees me working hard and knows that I am concerned about the future of our family. Making money should not be an end in itself. The pursuit of stuff cannot come at the expense of our family. My wife and the kids should see me giving of our finances, both to God and those in need. A written budget should be generated each month because if we don’t measure it we will never manage it. A college fund and retirement plan should be invested in each month.
4. To be second. I will be honest, putting my needs on the back burner does not come naturally. Yet, Christ is to be our model here. Ephesians 5:25 admonishes us to love our wives, just as Christ loved the church. This means it is a husband’s job to make sacrifices. It means I don’t gripe when I have to take on extra responsibilities at times. It means I get up when kids scream and let her sleep at times. I will need to help her shoulder some of her duties at times even when I don’t feel like it.
5. To be an encourager. I should be my wife’s biggest cheerleader. I should never make demeaning remarks, especially in front of others. I am to control my temper and not lash out or try and manipulate by being silent. My speech should be seasoned with grace and respectful.
6. To keep my eyes and mind pure. It’s easy to find things to look at that are not honoring to God or my wife. I can choose to let my eyes linger on the low necklines or high hemlines. I can decide to entertain sinful thoughts or push them from my mind.
7. To represent Christ. My actions should reflect God’s care and concern for my wife. My son’s relationship with God will be understood by how I relate to him. My daughter will see how a man should treat a woman by how I relate to her and her mother. The biggest thing I can do for my children is to love my wife like God does.
When you put your job description down on paper it becomes rather sobering. This is a tremendous task to live out and live well. I think it is easy to forget just how big of a job being a husband and father is. This is why we should sit down and figure out what is important and what our job is as a husband. Many of these areas I fail at on a daily basis, but some days I do well. Yet, if I don’t figure out what I should be doing how will I know whether I am doing well or poor?
Take the initiative to be the spiritual leader in the home – to pray, to worship at church, and to study God’s Word. Take the initiative to see that finances are in order, needs are met and your wife feels financially secure. Take the initiative to ask forgiveness, resolve conflict and ensure your home is a place of encouragement and safety. –Dennis Rainey
So, what does your job description look like? What would you add or take away from this list?
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Have you ever lost something important? What did you do? Did you sit around, hoping it would eventually turn up, or did you keep searching until you found it? It probably depends on how important it was. Around my house, I feel like we are constantly looking for things. Our little boy is frequently putting things in random places. My wife has knack for misplacing (her word for losing) various items as well. Honestly, I think they are both in cahoots just to watch me tear the house apart in a frantic frenzy. The most common items I search for are: remote controls, car keys, debit cards, and cell phones (which are always on silent when they are lost). I hate losing things. It is such a frustrating experience. Generally, things get lost when you need them most, or when you are in a hurry.
Last Sunday night nothing could have prepared me for what got lost. It was my two-year old son. We had just gotten out of church, and several of us stayed around visiting and catching up afterwards. All of the exits were locked. My wife and I were both keeping our eyes on our son as he ran and played with several of the other children. Out of nowhere someone asks, “Where is Hayden.” My response was, “He is right over here playing with the kids.” I walk around the corner and I see the kids, but my kid is missing. No big deal. I check the bathrooms because sometimes he meanders in there. I walk in and the lights are out. I call out and no answer. I quickly check his usual spots all to no avail. We check the sanctuary. No Hayden. We look, and one of the exterior door are cracked open.
At this point, about twenty people go in every direction, some out the front doors, others out the back, and some stay inside. I quickly run to the front and make sure he is not anywhere close to the road. Thankfully, I don’t see him close to the road, but then again, I don’t see him anywhere else either. Nausea starts to ripple through my stomach. Where is he? He isn’t one to wander. Where can he be? Please, God, help us find this sweet little boy. I walk back inside. Everyone else has moved outside to look so I start to sweep the inside again. I run into the sanctuary and something to my left catches my attention. He is playing in the floor of the sound booth completely oblivious to the frantic search going on around him.
Relief. I am flooded with a heart of thankfulness. I found him. He is okay. He is safe. I scoop him up and squeeze him. In that moment he has no idea how relieved and thankful I am to have my arms wrapped tightly around him. My son that was lost is now found. What incredible joy. I cut my celebration short in order to tell everyone else to call off the search. I had found him. No longer did I rejoice alone, we all gave thanks. Everything was alright. My son was safe.
In those short couple of minutes I collided headlong with a new perspective on the degree of the Father’s love for us. I had previously thought I had somewhat of a grasp on the extent of God’s love for His children. What I thought I knew about God’s love was shattered in several extremely long minutes.
I would have given anything to find my son. There is no extreme I would not have gone to in order for him to be wrapped safely in my arms. How much more so is the Father’s love for us? He paid the ultimate price.
He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
Ever since mankind willingly chose to separate himself from God, He has been seeking us. Even though our souls have become twisted and we desire to hide, He has been seeking us. Though we have tried to do things our own way and rebelled, He has continued to search for us.
He is always there with arms wide. A Father that longs to embrace His children. What joy he finds when we are found! We will never know what pure love is until we run to Him!
Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.‘ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. -Luke 15:8-10
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Last week, a new baby girl entered the world. I have a little life entrusted to me that will one day call me daddy. When I met Hadley for the first time, I was flooded with emotion. A sense of wonder and awe washed over me. God uses children to speak into our hearts in a significant and unique way. Our children touch us in ways that nothing else can. The night our daughter was born, I lay in a hospital room on a lumpy, uncomfortable pull out couch. A box fan hummed as the balloons from gift baskets buffered against the window. As I lay there my thoughts turned to my family, specifically the two beautiful children God has given me. I considered how much I love my kids, and how much I know that love will grow.
Then the verse came to my mind, “For God so loved the world.” Everyone knows that verse. It is recited repeatedly. It is one of the first verses children learn in Sunday school. People hold it up on signs at sporting events. It has been called “the North Star of the Bible.” It is hard to truly get your arms around that verse without having experienced being a parent. What I thought that verse meant growing up has deepened as my love for my children expands.
For God so loved. What does that mean exactly? When it comes to my children, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for them. I would gladly lay down my life to protect them. I would go to great lengths to see them taken care of. What a tremendous parallel. Is it no wonder that we call Him Father? What lengths He has gone to that we might have life, and have it to the fullest.
When I was growing up, there were several instances where I questioned my parents. Why are you doing this? Your decision doesn’t make any sense. Why are you being unfair? Why can’t I, when my friends are? Why don’t you do this instead of that? There were times that I was aggravated with my parents, thinking they should change the way they see certain situations, or that they should do things differently. Now, having children of my own, their actions are abundantly clear. I don’t need anyone to explain to me why they did what they did. Though as a child I lacked the perspective needed to understand. It is curious how time and a change in perspective provide one with so much clarity.
So how does that relate to how we see God? For Christians and skeptics alike, there are often times where we question God. We wonder why He behaves the way He does, or doesn’t give us the answers we want the moment we want them. We question why He allows certain things, or why He remains hidden at certain times. We desire to know why He doesn’t intervene in certain situations, and why bad things happen. At certain points, we might even shake our fists at God.
What if, at our present juncture, we lack the perspective to see things with clarity? Just like when we were kids we questioned our parents only to see things in lucid detail as our children came along, maybe it will be the same with God. Perhaps one day everything will make sense when we are given that moment of clarity.
So for now, can we just rest in the fact that God so loved the world? Can we be both comforted and frightened by the fact that God holds the world in His hands, and no sparrow falls that He is not privy too? Can we simply find solace knowing that God is in control even when things feel out of control? Can we be reminded that as a parent loves their children, so does God love us?
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Being a father is also an exercise in self awareness. My son is like a smaller version of myself in so many ways, and he reflects much about who I am back to me. My flaws and strengths become apparent in the way he relates to me. Sometimes he evokes a sense pride in the man I am, and at other times, he shows me the long road ahead in my life to becoming more like Christ.
Throughout the journey of fatherhood, I am continually being taught an abundance of life lessons. It is both fascinating and humbling that God can use such an innocent and naive human being to teach you so much about life.
My son reminds me to enjoy the moment, to be present. We have no guarantee of tomorrow, so we have to enjoy the day for what it is. I tend to gravitate to the future, which is good in some ways. Obviously, we have to make plans for the future, but we can do so to a fault. I have learned that some things can wait. Enjoy what is before you at the moment, because tomorrow that moment is forever gone.
Hayden has also taught me to find joy in the little things, to see the world with a fresh set of eyes. With age, the excitement of life tends to wane. We take for granted the simple pleasures. Enjoying life with a child will either give you a fresh perspective on how to enjoy the simple and mundane, or it will drive you to stifle the whimsical side of life. I would much rather enjoy the wonder with my child and re-experience the world with him than seek to distance myself from the silliness that accompanies it.
At times, I can take myself too seriously. It is easy to fret over the many commitments and responsibilities that we have. Sometimes, our self worth becomes wrapped up in what we accomplish instead of who we are, people created in God’s image. It’s quite alright to be silly. There is more to life than what we do or accomplish. These things are very important, but they are not the entirety of life. We also must remember to enjoy life and learn to laugh at ourselves. We need to remember to slow down and have some fun on our brief journey through this life.
I feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful son. I am enjoying what being a father teaches me. These lessons are invaluable. I continue to have a greater understanding of my own dad. I hope my son is as thankful for me, as I am for my own dad. I also am able to gain a glimpse more insight into how the Father loves us. Our worth is not based on what we do. We don’t have to earn his love. He chooses to give it freely.
I look forward with eager anticipation to the years ahead. I am thankful for the title of father. If having one is this much fun, I can’t wait for Hadley to arrive in September.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
What has being a dad taught you?
It is fun to have big news from time to time, isn’t it? Our son, Hayden, turned one this past November. It has been an amazing year watching him grow and learn. Honestly, I don’t know who has grown more, me or him? God truly uses your children to teach you so much about life, what is important, and about your relationship to Him. To see his dependency on me and his mom, forces me to daily be reminded of my dependency on God. We just found out this week that we will be expecting another child in September. Devon and I are extremely excited! We are going to try and sleep in every chance we get in the coming months. We ask that you keep us and the new baby on the way in your prayers.
I knew that 2012 was going to be a great year. It is off to a wonderful start. We are really ecstatic. So many goals we have been working toward stand a good chance of coming to pass this year. We truly find ourselves blessed with more than we deserve.
Thanks for reading and allowing me to share my thoughts and personal moments. Thanks for sharing yours as well. Thanks for walking with me. I hope that we all walk good this year.
“I wonder what sort of a tale we‘ve fallen into?” –J.R.R. Tolkien
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
This past weekend Hayden turned a year old. He had a complete blast at his birthday party. We are blessed to have so many people that love us and are willing to invest in Hayden’s life. It was fun to watch him take the whole day in. From seeing so many people he loves in the same place, to destroying and devouring his cake, opening his presents, and then playing with his new toys.
Over the weekend, I had some time to reflect on the past year of being a dad. It has been an incredible journey. I just wanted to share some of the things I have learned and some of my favorite aspects of daddyhood.
My favorite part of the day is waking up, going into his room, and seeing his eyes peeking over the crib. I flip on the light, he smiles with squinted eyes, and squeals in delight to see me. I love sneaking into his room in the middle of the night to check on him and see the strange sleeping positions he manages, like a tiny slumbering contortionist. I enjoy watching him try new foods and watching the joy splash across his face as he shares his food with the dog. It makes me smile to see the things he finds funny. You never know what will strike him as hilarious. It is amazing to watch his personality come out moment by moment.
I truly was not prepared for how being a dad would change me, teach me, and reveal so much insight into my own life. On the negative side, it has revealed how I am often selfish. It took a tiny person to show me how often I think about myself before other people. It has been a joy getting so many opportunities to put Hayden first. He has also been a lesson in patience. A lesson I did not realize how much I needed. God is still grooming patience in my life.
There have been so many positive things I have learned through being with and watching my son grow. It has provided perspective as to how much my parents and Heavenly Father care about me. You just don’t realize how much you can love a child until it is your own. Whenever Hayden has a meltdown and cries hysterically over something, I get to calm and reassure him, even though it usually is nothing to be upset over. How many times is this the case for me? I have a meltdown. I get upset. I react to things going on in my life, and God is smiling saying, “This really isn’t a big deal.” It is also calming at times to see how carefree he is. He has no worries or concerns. Sometimes I wish his childlike outlook came more naturally to me instead of fretting over things beyond my control.
Hayden is a constant reminder of what life is about and a reminder to smile several times throughout the day. I cannot imagine life before him. I look forward to watching Hayden continue to grow. I feel like I am waiting on my best friend to get old enough to have conversations with me and do enjoyable activities with me. I am excited to see what God will do in and through his life.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
This past Thursday, Devon and I ran errands most of the day in Beaumont. We were heading to the mall (you can’t not go to the mall if you are in Beaumont) when we heard “the noise” coming from the back seat. Hayden makes this distinct grunt when he is in the process of making his special mud pie recipe. We get to the mall and Devon announces “oh boy, it is a cracker packer” (this is our term for a diaper so full that any wrong movement will cause it to shoot/squirt/ooze out of the diaper).
So,we go into emergency management mode. She grabs Hayden and I grab a diaper, wipes, and open the hatch to the back of our SUV. She lays him in the back, and we go to work like an EMT about to try and revive a patient. Devon makes one wipe, I grab the diaper and dispose of it in a bag. We are practically out of the woods. Before I could get another diaper under him, he decides to turn back on the soft serve machine and poops everywhere. I go to put a diaper under him and he poops on me. Devon moves to the other side of the SUV to get him away from the poop and he poops on her. So here we are, Hayden has poop all over him, I have poop all over me, Devon has poop all over her, and there are three rather large doo doo pies on the carpet in the back of my car. By this time, I am not frustrated. I am way past that. It was a pooptastrophe. We now refer to it as the poopocalypse of 2011.
So what did we do? We cleaned him up. We cleaned ourselves up. Then we walked through the mall poop free. Late that night, I cleaned the carpets in the car. We all laughed about it much later that evening. As Hayden was laying there, he was pretty helpless. It was pretty chilly that day, and Hayden was laying naked in the back of the car, covered in poop, shaking from the cold. He needed someone to clean him up.
On the drive home as I thought about this whole event, I couldn’t help but think about myself. God comes to us in the same way. There we are, covered in poop, and if we are willing, He cleans us up. He gives us a new set of clothes. Just like a Dad, He has compassion on us, and He wipes us clean. He shows us kindness if we let Him. I am so thankful that He cleaned me up. Now that I am clean and have a new set of clothes, I want to let Him know how thankful I am.
“God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” – Romans 2:4
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.