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.
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.
A man wrote this comment about his relationship with his wife: ‘I did not reveal myself to her. I stuffed many of my thoughts, emotions, and needs that I feared would lead to rejection if I voiced them’This was cutting her off’I believe this was an abdication of my responsibility. I have known for many, many years that honesty and openness is God’s way but had not really come to terms with it until recently.’
As a man, you likely agree that not every emotion you feel’for example, fear, inhibition, or intimidation’is good. You probably realize honesty and openness is God’s desire but struggle to obey. Haven’t you wondered if Adam ever said ‘I’m sorry’ to Eve. Think about it. There he was in the Garden, listening to Satan tempt his wife, and he did nothing to interfere, to keep her from giving in. And the rest is history.
As one prominent psychologist noted, ‘Adam was there and he was silent.’ I wonder if Adam ever spoke to Eve about his shame. And I wonder if we men have inherited his silence.
You don’t have to give in to the temptation of silence. Share yourself with your wife. Come to terms with the fact that the silence that fills your home is like a fog and obscures you from her. But you can begin to clear the fog. Give her the opportunity to receive what you say with trust and grace. It might be scary. But you can do it.