In my years of working with men, I’ve seen how the lack of solid boundaries results in half-completed spiritual lives. Guys, good boundaries help you finish the course. They clarify convictions. They provide moral clarity by assigning healthy, predetermined responses to situations before they arise. They draw lines in the sand that you won’t cross because of your love for Christ and your desire to see His desires actualized in all areas of your life.
Establishing boundaries is a discipline. To this end, Oswald Chambers once commented, ‘Impulse is all right in a child, but it is disastrous in a man. Impulse has to be trained into intuition by discipline.’
The paradox is that the things men tend to resist the most’limits, boundaries, rules, and restrictions’are the very things you need the most in order to experience real freedom. This kind of resistance is like trying to jump the fence without realizing that the Grand Canyon waits on the other side. You won’t ever know the terrors you’ve escaped when you find true freedom inside God’s boundaries. But then again, you don’t want to know these terrors.
When you understand that true freedom requires restraints, you’ll see that God doesn’t establish boundaries just to see if you can be a good boy and follow the rules. Instead, He gives you boundaries to keep you and your loved ones safe from moral and spiritual calamity’to make you a faithful husband, dad, and man of God. He put them there to help you experience the truly abundant life Jesus came to give.
Men, as you both articulate and demonstrate acceptance to your children, be sure to avoid making that acceptance conditional. Don’t make it dependent upon some accomplishment, such as academics, athletics, Scouting, or civic work. Achievements in those areas are definitely commendable, and you should be sure to communicate that to them. But if your son or daughter only hears affirmation when he or she performs, they’ll leave home conditioned to perform in order to continue hearing the words of acceptance they so desperately want and need from you.
When children are blessed by their father, they’re steadily released to become their own person. Then, when the time comes, the father can say, ‘My days of training and influence are complete. I am always here to help you should you need something I can provide. But I am now stepping down from my position over you to assume a position beside you. Instead of your teacher or corrector, I am now counselor and friend. I believe you are well prepared to achieve everything that is your desire and calling. You have my blessing, not because of what I believe you will accomplish, but because of who I know you are.’
Guys, that’s what your children desperately need from you. It’ll help them immeasurably as they endeavor to be mature and productive people in this world; to be good husbands and wives and fathers and mothers; and to live faithful, obedient, and joyful lives in Christ.
Yesterday I talked about American men feeling disappointment and burnout at mid-career. Today I’ll raise several key issues you should consider carefully and prayerfully if you’re among the growing number thinking about making a career change.
1) There are elements of repetition in every career, and few repetitive actions remain continually thrilling. Are you in the right place, but just needing a minor change of pace, or is your lack of enjoyment indicative of something more fundamental?
2) Are you wrestling with getting less recognition than you think proper? Is this a legitimate grievance, or your reticence to live contentedly before an audience of One?
3) Is your career disappointment a reminder that perseverance is needed, or an indication that your work is not the type worth pursuing for a lifetime?
4) Where does income figure in to your dissatisfaction? How does money fit into your value system, and affect your feeling of self-worth?
5) Are you giving your time and energy to something you can be proud of?
6) Is your career providing the opportunity to make a contribution to something you deem important?
Men, these are important questions. So please don’t make impulsive moves without answering them prayerfully, honestly, and with the help of trusted and spiritually mature input from others. Many of you may find God’s calling you to grow right where you are. Others just may be called to take heart and follow God to other things.