Every few days I encounter a truth in the midst of my ‘Courageous’ movie perpetual page-a-day calendar that sort of knocks me upside the head and convicts me deep inside my heart. The July 16th entry read:
“Being a loving leader, a wise instructor, a good example, and a caring provider … that is what fatherhood is all about.”
This post is going to be written more as a confessional than an accusation … so any conclusions I share have been gained through my personal experience as a father and a grandfather spanning over 30 years. Perhaps … and I am very hopeful … your experience as a father or your experience at the hands of a loving father have been very different …
Quite frankly … today … I believe the four attributes of fatherhood listed above are actually listed in the priority they need to be addressed … actually all four probably should be revealed equally to some degree within the life of a father.
For a great deal of my life as a father … my greatest focus has been financial provision for my wife and children and even today grandchildren. Whoever has these pipe dreams that when your kids turn 18 your fatherly responsibilities are complete … well, let me know how that works out. That has not been my experience. But note the quote does not say financial provider … it says a caring provider … which encompasses so much more than money. So much time wasted …
Next on the scorecard, yes I strove to be a good example to my children … by a good example I mean I have faithfully worked 40 plus hours a week to meet their financial needs and wants, I have faithfully loved their mother, I have attempted to be a somewhat moral person, and have had an active church and faith life for nearly 20 years … and yet in my little self-defined checklist, wasn’t that me striving for some sort of self-glory and self-accomplishment and personal sense of satisfaction that really had nothing to do with being a good example? The good example they needed to see was a man following hard after Christ Jesus, a man IN and through whom Christ lives and reveals Himself … I’m sorry but more often than not the good example has been more about me than about Christ.
The provider and example roles oftentimes allow a father to fully believe he is doing what is needed. Yet in the midst of that so-called striving a distance remains between the father and his children. Being a provider … being an example … neither one by themselves builds relationship with your children … they typically only build walls.
This is not to say they cannot be a part of the relationship building process … just not by themselves.
But the really foundational building blocks for relationships occur when you add in the loving leader and wise instructor attributes of fatherhood (Note what is revealed through each of the adjectives: loving, wise, good, caring …). My bout with cancer has proven to be a real wake-up call in these two areas … my Lord and my wife are both helping me to be more effective in all these things with my children and grandchildren as we build foundations and memories. So when you read a post here and perhaps think “he is good father” or “he is a good grandfather”, please realize many of these things are new to me, that most of my life as a father I have failed miserably at some of them, and that any changes you may be seeing for the better are the result of the work of the Lord (with some on the ground assistance from my loving wife). Just want to be honest and truthful to those who stop by to read …
I am learning to be a wise instructor … primarily to my grandchildren. In the past the wisdom I have often shared was more akin to the wisdom of the world than the wisdom of God. I have come to realize that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found IN Christ Jesus. So to be a wise instructor now means to me that I must teach the children the truths of Scripture and do whatever God desires to begin to build their relationship with Christ Jesus. Proverbs 9:2 seems to hold a deep truth the wise instructor must remember when training up his children and grandchildren. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” To that end, I am attempting to strive.
The interesting thing to me is not much conversation occurs between father and child when fathers are simply providing and being examples. But start instructing and sharing wisdom with kids, start being a loving leader of the family and you’ll see just how bright and inquisitive and conversational your children and grandchildren are and there will be no end to the discussions that begin to build relationship with you and with Christ Jesus. Relationships begins to grow.
Help me Lord to make the most of my remaining life … Help me!