In his book Men’s Secret Wars, Patrick Means suggests three questions to help men identify whether or not they’ve moved beyond parental expectations. They are as follows:
1) Did my father communicate to me that I was loved?
2) Did he let me know he was pleased with who I am?
3) Was his blessing unconditional?
To me, Means’ last point is the most important. When as a parent you tell your son, ‘I love you if and when you do this or that,’ you’re putting conditions in place that could haunt him for the rest of his life.
The amazing thing about the grace of God is that you’re accepted with no strings attached. Christ took care of all the conditions. By embracing Christ, you’re freed from all your mistakes and shortfalls. But it also means you’re freed from your having to measure up to the false and unrealistic standards of others.
Consequently, you’re free to pursue your God-directed destiny’to follow your God-given dreams’knowing you have a loving Father who encourages you along the way. Every man was created by God to stand straight and tall, to look to God to find His true identity in Christ.
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.
Most men have Dad-stories, don’t they? I sure do. But in his book, When Men Think Private Thoughts, Gordon MacDonald makes the observation that men with positive Dad-stories are in the minority. MacDonald finds the majority of Dad-stories he hears are about anger and regret’stories punctuating the sad reality that the son never really knew his dad, or his dad never seemed to be around, or his father never conveyed to him that he loved him and enjoyed being his father.
Do Gordon MacDonald’s observations parallel your own? Many men don’t have as many positive Dad-stories as they should have’or need to have.
Guys, have you ever considered the connection between the fact that Jesus of Nazareth appears to have been the most assured man to ever walk the face of the earth and what His Father said to Him when He began His public life: ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).’ That simple statement contains two things every man needs to know from his father: he’s loved, and he’s well pleasing. To pronounce such a blessing upon a young man or woman’of any age for that matter’releases pent-up anxiety that constantly wants to know, ‘How am I doing, Dad?’
If you’re listening, and you have a son or a daughter, give him or her this invaluable gift. Let them hear your affirmation, and let then know they’re pleasing to you.