When I first began reading the Gospels in the New Testament I was struck by several things: Jesus didn’t heal everybody; He was willing to say ‘No’ in a way that would be considered rude today; and He often fled from the masses ‘ he withdrew to rest.
The popular image of Jesus as a passive guy who couldn’t say ‘No’ and who catered to everyone’s beck and call is wrong. He argued, used strong language, said ‘No,’ and walked away. When it came to taking time for Himself, He provided an example we’d be wise to follow.
Men have responded pretty well to the current mindset in our culture that suggests men need to be more involved at home. You probably do housework, change diapers, shop for groceries, play with the kids, date your wife, and help with homework. But having adopted this mindset, many men feel guilty about taking time off for themselves. I don’t mean a ski trip to Colorado. I’m talking more about just taking a few hours here and there to regroup.
Often husbands will stay with the kids while their wives get together with the girls, but they don’t plan similar events for themselves. Do you think your wife needs a break and you don’t? That’s a big mistake.
Friend, if ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,’ it’ll also make him an increasingly dull husband and father. Take care not to let this happen to you.
I recently read three pearls of wisdom from a Christian educator that I want to share with you. They pertain to God’s command to parents to provide spiritual leadership for their children.
First, try not to go anywhere by yourself. Whenever you can, take one of your children with you. Errands, trips, sporting events’wherever a father goes with his children, opportunities arise to communicate spiritual truth and wisdom. You have to be in your children’s presence in order to influence them.
Second, don’t buy the lie that ‘quality’ makes up for ‘quantity’ when it comes to time spent with your children. Quantity of time is equally important. When a man becomes a parent he can write off the majority of the next twenty years of ‘free time.’ The majority of that time needs to be spent with his children.
Third, the best way a father can love his children spiritually and emotionally is by loving their mother spiritually and emotionally.
In other words, a father’s spiritual leadership is more about lifestyle than specific, scheduled events. It requires bringing a deep love for God to your everyday life: meals, walks after supper, bike rides, games, earning and saving money, serving those less fortunate, and so on. All these things’and every aspect of life’can be skillfully ‘exploited’ for the benefit of spiritual development if only dads will learn to see and seize their opportunities.
Let me suggest three things that every father can focus on today’and everyday’that are mandatory for accomplishing God’s purposes in the lives of your children.
First, fathers must love God. The only way you can be assured your child will learn the most important truths in life’truths about living with faith, obedience, and joy as a follower of Jesus’is knowing those truths yourself and assuming the responsibility for teaching them to your children. You can’t give what you yourself don’t possess.
Second, fathers must love their own fathers. I know for many men that’s a tall order’and often for very good reasons. Nonetheless, being a good father means being a loving son. If your father hasn’t, can’t, or won’t provide the love you need from him, you must get it from God Himself. Fathers must find healing for their own broken hearts to prevent breaking the hearts of their children.
Third, fathers must love their wives. Parenting is a partnership. And nothing will embitter children more than living with a mother who’s been turned resentful by the callous affections of their father.
If you as a father will set your hearts on these three loves, all the other details of raising children will work themselves out.