Dad, how many children have you birthed? How much did the last one weigh? Scripture refers to childbirth as the greatest pain one can bear. So if we men are so tough, why aren’t we the ones having the babies? (OK, I know the answer.) But think about it: What pain have we dads endured for our children? Our wives carried each baby for nine months and then birthed it. “We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail” (Jeremiah 6:24).
We are commanded to disciple our children. “And, ye fathers, … bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Have we agonized over our children? Do we spend time with them, talk with them, and pray earnestly for them?
Jesus suffered on the cross for us and our children. Our wives have suffered in childbirth for each of our children. What price have we paid, what suffering have we endured, as we disciple our children? Think about how Jesus demonstrated His love for us and then ask yourself: How have I demonstrated a love for my family that cost me something?
Have you ever been challenged to make a commitment that you know will be beneficial but very difficult to keep? Maybe you doubted you had the self-discipline to follow through and thus decided not to make the commitment. For some reason we often feel it is more honorable not to commit than to risk failing. Doesn’t that sound quite noble?
Could it be that it really isn’t lack of self-discipline or noble motives, but wrong priorities? Have you noticed that a man will always do what is most important to him? We usually eat three meals a day regardless of how busy we are, and we go to work every day even when we don’t feel like it. Yet, we will not do what we are double minded about. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
Over the years I’ve challenged thousands of dads to commit to daily personal and family Bible time on the condition that if they miss one they won’t eat a bite of food for 24 hours. A man’s growling stomach is a great reminder that he is starving himself and his family spiritually.
A host of men and families are blessed because the dads committed. Do they ever miss a Bible time? Maybe, maybe not, but I know this: They made the right commitment. Sadly, there is another host of men who thought themselves noble but continue to starve themselves and their family.
Will you commit to feeding your spirit and your family’s every day?
Society admires those who are successful, whether in business, athletics, or other endeavors. Yet have you noticed how quick people are to criticize those who fail (I’m not referring to moral failure)? Often, when people see others incurring relentless criticism when they fail, they shrink a bit. Fear of failure and its consequences kills initiative.
That teaches “us” that we had better not try something unless success is either guaranteed or at least attainable with reasonable effort. Surely, we conclude, being mocked and ridiculed for failing is too much of a cross for anyone to bear.
But isn’t that backward? Shouldn’t we applaud those who try — those who have the gumption to try something difficult? Peter failed to protect his Lord. “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear” (Matthew 26:51). He missed and only got the man’s ear. Yet, Peter said he was willing to die with Jesus, and he proved himself. Sure, he would soon deny Him, but look what he learned in the process.
We will never be a perfect dad, perfect husband, or perfect Christian. We can pour out our lives into our children as we disciple them and still our children might fall short. But men, let’s die trying because if we fail to try … we are guaranteed to be failures.
Most have read Pilgrim’s Progress and remember Talkative. What a guy! He had all the right answers and said all the right things. The only problem was that he didn’t live it out. He was all talk, an empty suit, a talking head.
In his book Jack, Straight from the Gut, Jack Welch explains that GE rated their employees with what they called “the four Es of GE leadership.” I have modified the points to highlight dad’s leadership. What if keeping our job as Dad depended on our ratings on the following points?
1. Does Dad invest his time in his family?
2. Does Dad inspire his family to live for Jesus Christ?
3. Will Dad make difficult decisions in following Christ even when others don’t agree?
4. Will Dad be the first to step out and implement those decisions?
The last point is primarily what sets a real performer apart from a “Talkative.” It’s easy for you and me to talk well but lack execution. If we are a great trip planner, but never go on the trip, what’s the benefit? “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
Ask your family to rate you (1–10) on the four points and give you examples to support their ratings. It’s a good exercise. I did it. BTW, at GE those in the lower 10 percent in each department were expected to go find another job. Let’s strive to be in the top 10 percent in the universal pool of Christian dads.
Would you feed her?
I do. She’s about 80 pounds of fierce muscle and eats squirrels whole. It all started because I wanted her as a friend and not an enemy. (Wouldn’t you?) That’s the flesh. I did it for my gain. Now she “loves” me but only because I feed her choice scraps of meat.
It’s easy to value others because of what they do for us. When we walk in the Spirit, however, we are to love others with an agape love, whether they are good to us or even bad to us. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
May we love our wives and children because of who they are and not because of what they do for us.
Someone once told me about a sign he read on the wall of a business: “We want employees who want to work here, not just for a paycheck.”
That sentiment is similar to a common corporate mission statement that proudly proclaims: “Our employees are our best asset!”
Don’t both of those statements sound good? Wouldn’t you want to work there? Well, maybe yes or maybe no. Doesn’t it depend upon whether management actually makes decisions for the good of the employee consistent with those statements? One question would be: Is the company investing in their employees?
We could say something similar about our homes. A father may desire that each member of the family wants to live in his home, or he might say that his family is his greatest treasure on earth. The question is: What is he doing to make those statements a reality? Is he making decisions for the good of his wife and children? Is he investing in his wife and children?
Have we evicted anger from our lives and ushered in love, gentleness, and patience? Let’s tally how much time we spend with our wife and children each week. Why isn’t it more? Might that fact be the difference between words that sound good and reality?
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:13).
Let’s make our homes a place of nurturing and love. It begins with a choice. Will we make good choices and then implement them?
On average a mom will change 2,500 diapers for her newborn baby in just the first year. Do any of us truly believe that Moms’ “why” in changing diapers is that she loves to change diapers? We can be sure she is looking down the road and investing her life in the children because she is raising them to love and serve the Lord.
How seriously do we Dads take our responsibility of discipling our children? Providing a paycheck is the easy part. That is necessary, but the hard part is raising sons and daughters who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
Raising children who love the Lord is a LOT OF HARD WORK. The more we invest, though, the greater the return. I can assure you that the investment is worth it. Was it tough at times? Absolutely! But I delight in my children. People groan when mentioning teenagers. I can’t imagine that. The teen years are when the real “pay-off” is beginning!
One very senior citizen recently told me that she issued an ultimatum to her daughter – at 18 either the daughter would move out or the mom would. Sadly, that attitude is so common today.
It’s very easy to “father” a child. The hard part is to be a father to that child.
What’s our “why?” What sort of fathers are we? What level of effort are we willing to invest?
Tomorrow is another work day. You will head off to work, spend all day, and come home to the family. Then you will begin all over again the next day. The weekend will come yielding a change of pace, and then it begins again on Monday.
Many years ago I had a hamster. He would run in an exercise wheel for hours. He never went anywhere or accomplished anything. It was a whirl of activity, but that little hamster had nothing to show for it. Can you relate to that?
Our joy in work comes down to “why” we are doing what we are doing. We must be looking beyond the immediate activity and seeing the whole picture. Why are we working?
One dad is bringing home a paycheck to feed his family. Another dad is working because it is expected of him. He goes to work; Mom stays home. Another dad views his job as a means to raising God’s heritage. His family members are his best friends, and his delight is raising his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: … Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (Psalms 127:1,3).
What’s your “why?”
Seriously Dad is for dads who want to grow spiritually, personally, and relationally. It doesn’t matter where you are starting from, The question is: Do you want to grow? If you know another dad who is serious about being challenged and moving forward, send this on to him.
Frequent doses of spiritual, vocational, and family relationship “vitamins” for dads are coming your way beginning March 20th. Won’t you join me?
Your Brother in Christ Jesus,
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. Psalm 68:19