My dad was probably the hardest-working man I’ve ever known. He worked for twenty years at a large university in Texas while also running drive-in restaurants and selling real estate. He was simply an outstanding provider for our family.
One of the reasons my dad worked so hard was because he got a late career start. His father owned a successful machine shop during the days of the Texas oil boom. Somehow my dad was chosen to help his father manage the business while his four brothers went off to college. Then the oil boom ended and the family business floundered. My dad was left without either a career or a college education.
Men’s careers often take unplanned and unwanted turns, don’t they? It’s easy to incur mishaps, expenses, and responsibilities, and then feel stuck. I imagine more men today feel like they have jobs rather than careers. That can be a debilitating feeling, especially if you’ve got one of those ‘change the world’ types of dispositions.
I know my dad quietly struggled with those feelings. He sacrificed to serve his father, and played catch-up for the rest of his life. Yet he succeeded at honorably providing for his family despite his late start. For that I hold him in the highest esteem.
Men, sometime you have no choice but to grow where you’re planted. When that’s the case, don’t lose heart. There’s always something to be, even if you’re not crazy about what you do.
Acceptance. We long for it, don’t we? If a young man or woman doesn’t sense, or hopefully know, they’ve been accepted by their parents’and most importantly, their father’the cloud of parental expectation will hang over their head. Children who don’t experience their parents’ acceptance have a terribly difficult time with self-acceptance.
Sons and daughters listens for his father’s words: ‘You’re good at that’you’re a wonderful son’I’m proud of you’I love who you are’I have confidence in your abilities.’ If he doesn’t hear them, he’ll eventually grow up and leave home without closure and without confidence he’s ready and capable to handle life.
Furthermore, the logic of his mind will say, ‘There must be something I haven’t done right, so I’ll keep trying; I’ll work at proving I can get it right. I’ll keep at it until I hear that I’m okay’that I’m a man.’
That’s how the majority of men in our culture leave home. And it’s tragic when you consider how this repeats itself from generation to generation. Only a man who hears from his father he’s accepted is free to pass this gift on to his own sons. You simply can’t give what you don’t have.
If you haven’t received this gift, there’s still hope for you. In Christ, you have a heavenly Father who accepts you’who truly delights in you. Seek Him. Hear His promises to you in Scripture. Let Him re-parent you.
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.