Three “Rivers” of Capturing Your Children’s Heart

This is the final of 4 posts that have been taken from Chapter 7 of The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick.

How fathers capture childrens heartsHow Fathers Capture Their Children’s Hearts

Regardless of the age of our kids, we need to throw on the brakes and start spending more “heart to heart” time with them. Even if they’re not receptive initially. Even if trust needs to be rebuilt. Even if your children are grown and gone, your pursuit of their hearts must still go on.

It’s time to turn the corner. To remember that teaching your children to love God cannot happen when you’re not loving them well yourself. It’s time to clear out all the noise and discontent that’s created so much uncomfortable space between you and your children. Here are three powerful rivers that need to be unleashed and allowed to flow freely from your heart to theirs.

Attention

Too many moments at home have found us busy while our children have waited in the shadows. They won’t wait forever. Too often we’ve allowed good things to steal us away from the best things—those priceless, unrecoverable moments with our kids while they’re growing up. We have a culture of men who ignore and don’t talk to their children. And this needs to change starting now.

We should daily engage them, laugh with them, comfort them, and walk with them throughout life. “Tell me how you are doing.” “What have you been up to lately?” “What are you most excited about right now?” These are questions dads should ask often. We should make it clear to them that they can always come to us and talk about anything.

Some fathers take each of their children out for breakfast for a little one-on-one time with Dad. Daughters love date nights, and sons relish a “Men’s Night Out.” Whether it’s riding bikes together, reading books, playing sports, or sitting at a coffee shop, time out with Dad can open up conversations you wouldn’t usually have at home with your kids.

Brooks Adams, son of Charles Adams, U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain under the Lincoln Administration, was only eight years old when he wrote in his diary one afternoon, “Went fishing with my father; the most glorious day of my life.” Unaware of this, his dad also kept a diary, and he too had marked a comment about that same day and event. “Went fishing with my son; a day wasted.”  He missed the significance of that day.

How many more days might they have spent together if the father knew how much it meant to his little boy? How many times have we considered it a “waste” to push our kids on the swing at the playground or to bring them a snack and a kiss on the head while they’re busy doing homework? Yet we find time to watch television, or surf the Web, or whatever else we deem valuable and necessary to us. We need to look back at Scripture, understand the job God has given us, and redefine the difference between “wasted” time and priceless investments.

Affirmation

Both children and adults want the approval and praise from their dads. They want their father’s “blessing” in their lives. To bless means, “to speak well of”. When you bless your children, you are lovingly using your God-given authority to verbally affirm them toward future success.

God told Moses that the high priest should bless the sons of Israel by saying, “The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24–26). Then God said, “So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”(vs. 27)

When Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:11). God the Father was publicly affirming His Son by speaking love and acceptance over Him. He also invested in Jesus at that moment by sending His Holy Spirit down to Him. This not only encouraged Jesus but set Him up for complete success to do the will of His heavenly Father throughout His earthly ministry.

As you learn to do this, it will be a powerful experience for your children. It is important that you communicate to them, “You are my son (daughter) and I dearly love you. I am very pleased with you.” You should then follow up by investing in their future. You should pray for them, encourage them, introduce them to the right people, and give them what they need to help them to be successful.  Even adult men and women long for their father’s blessing if they never received it growing up.

If you didn’t receive your father’s blessing, then you must discover that men who are surrendered to Jesus Christ share in the blessing Jesus received from His Father. Scripture says “in Him” we are blessed with every spiritual blessing and are “accepted and beloved.” (Ephesians 1:1-14) You must receive this blessing from your Heavenly Father by faith, and then model it to your children. Anytime you greet them or talk to them, your countenance, the look in your eyes and tone of voice either says, “You are a delight to me” or “You are an irritation to me.” You should praise them privately, one-on-one, and publicly in front of others. “That is awesome! You are really good at that,” needs to come from your lips as their biggest cheerleader. Regardless of our past failures, we should step up to do this now!

Affection

Our Heavenly Father pours out His unconditional love on us (Romans 5:5), and so should we to our sons and daughters. What a tragedy to hear grown men confess that their fathers never said they loved them. Whether you received love from your father or not, you need to pour it out affectionately on your kids. Break this chain. Make sure they know deeply in their hearts that you care for them. Hug them, kiss them, hold them close. Interact with them in ways that make them fully see, hear, and feel your love.

A child needs not only the discipline of a father but also his warm affection and tender love. When they are little, tickle them, wrestle with them, carry them proudly on your shoulders. As they grow up, don’t stop embracing them and putting your arm around them.

Boys who feel loved by their dads are bolder, stronger, kinder to others, and more secure in their manhood. Girls who feel valued by their dads are more radiant, less desperate for a boyfriend, and more careful whom they marry. So, invest in them, take them places, flood them with tender affection so there is no question in their minds as to your love for them.

God has given us a powerful and amazing calling to bless our children and grandchildren and to teach them to love Him with all their hearts and lives. But they will not be drawn to believe what we say if we don’t speak it from within the context of a loving relationship with them. Our love touches them deeply and opens their hearts to hear truth and follow their Heavenly Father faithfully. They will likely pass on our blessing to their kids!

So let’s step up to the plate with a new vision for success and knock it out of the park!

 

 

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough  Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011

Now Available Where Books are Sold

 

At the Corner of Fatherhood and Leadership – the 2012 Fatherhood Summit

Fatherhood CoMission Leadership summitLater today more than 50 influencers in the church and men’s ministries will convene for one reason…to come together in unity around making Godly fatherhood a reality in every home across the nation.  The statistics tell the story of how fatherlessness has ravaged our families over the past 50 years.  This isn’t to place all the blame on men and fathers.  There are a number of reasons that this is a present day reality.  But, men do have to take responsibility for abdicating many of their responsibilities as dads and husbands and the resulting impact it has had in our culture.  The past is the past.  It’s what we do now that matters.

In 2010, Sherwood Pictures (an outreach of Sherwood Church in Albany, GA) released the fourth film in their remarkable string of increasingly popular faith based films.  What began as a small local project (Flywheel) became an eye-popping unsuspected success (Facing the Giants), then grew to a movie that caught the attention of Hollywood because of it’s theatrical numbers and its key theme of having a Godly marriage (Fireproof), and recently created national attention again as it turned out millions to the theaters while dealing with one of our nations more difficult issues to address—fatherlessness (Courageous).   Sherwood is ultimately much more interested in God being glorified through their work than the worldly success of their movies.  But, the more success a movie has in numbers, the more people who are exposed to the power of the movie’s message.  As much as Sherwood Pictures wants to influence culture for good beyond the movie’s theatrical and DVD releases, at the end of the day, Sherwood Pictures makes movies.  Once the movies message is out, who is there to champion it?

That’s where the Fatherhood CoMission comes in.  This team was formed to help champion Godly fatherhood as was exemplified in the movie, Courageous.  Influential ministries came together to determine how they could help churches and ministries continue to keep fatherhood at the forefront of the cultural discussion while providing guidance, information and encouragement inside and outside of the Church.  The idea for the CoMission was started before Courageous was in theaters but finally formed earlier this year.  And, starting tonight, the Fatherhood CoMission team and 50 other influential leaders in the Church and men’s ministries are convening for a two day summit to pray, collaborate, ideate and strategize on how to best champion Godly fatherhood in our nation.

Here are just a few of the questions they will discuss with the goal of generating some discussion and ultimately practical takeaway plans to pursue at the end of the Summit:

  • What could we (the leadership summit) do in the next 5 yrs to make the biggest impact on fatherhood in our nation?
  • How can we set up the next generation of fathers for success?
  • How can we influence media to show what strong fatherhood looks like and the impact it really has when it’s lived out in the home?
  • What are the biggest threats and enemies to fatherhood that must be confronted?
  • What resources need to be developed that don’t exist?

There will be many others but that gives you an indication about what will happen beginning tonight and going through breakfast on Friday.  Please pray for this summit, these leaders and their organizations and the subsequent plan that can be developed and carried out to help dads around the nation and globe be better dads.  Here are a few prayer requests that we ask you to spend a few minutes praying, if you would:

  • Pray for unity among the different organizations and the prayer of Jesus to God for unity in believers would be a reality.
  • That all agendas would be put aside except those God wants to move forward.
  • Movement in the hearts of men and churches across the nation to move this issue further up on their radar and the impact it would then have on changing homes in communities all over the U. S.
  • Next step clarity
  • Safe travel to and from this event.
  • The right people would be at the event and the ideas that need to be generated are allowed to germinate and grow.
  • A time of refreshment for these leaders who are engaged in so many activities that make leaving their work difficult.  No anxiety for what is left behind and focus on what is at hand for the two plus days.
  • Families of those involved.  Spiritual warfare is real and if there’s a barrier to positively impacting Godly families it’s when good families fall apart and the enemy raises that up as why efforts like these are futile.  God will not be mocked and what God raises up, let not man tear apart.

Thank you for your prayers and support of this event and of the Fatherhood CoMission as it moves forward over the next few years and champions Godly fathering in our nation.  One day it’s charter will be completed and it will disband, hoping and praying that “feet on the street” ministries and churches keep the momentum going.  Pray for this organization that God is raising up for such a time as this!

 

10 Warning signs that you might be losing the heart of your children (from The Resolution for Men)

This is the 3rd of 4 posts by Stephen Kendrick, taken as an excerpt of Chapter 7 of The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick.

FATHERS LOSING THE HEART OF THEIR CHILDREN

losing the heart of your childA quote from a young woman’s blog,

“I wish my inner child would find my inner dad and tell him everything I never had the courage to. And then, I wish she would turn around and walk away for ever, and never look back.”

Fathers are notorious for doing things that anger their children and lose their hearts. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” Before telling us to train and instruct our children, we are warned not to frustrate or embitter them. Why?

If we are losing the heart of our children, we are losing everything. They simply won’t listen to us. This is so important that if it is not heeded, fathering will fail.

Intimacy is tied to feeling emotionally safe around someone. If your kids get angry with you and you don’t resolve it, then their hearts will close off to you and become bitter. Then the devil will begin to fill their minds with accusations against you. He will develop a “List of Crimes” in their minds of wrongs you have committed and then use this list to help them justify rebellion against you.

So when your children get angry with you, then you need to stop what you are doing, get engaged, and help them to deal with that anger until it is gone. You cannot live in denial and keep putting up barriers that choke out your ability to influence them for good.

Here is a list of 10 things that fathers do to anger and lose the hearts of their children. Seriously consider them and see if any of these are present in your relationship with your child as you examine if you are losing the heart of your children. Work hard to eliminate the following “heart hindrances” that will push them away:

  1. Your Absence.  Whether a man abandons his kids all at once or is never home because he’s always working, he still leaves them as sheep without a shepherd. This sends the signal to your kids, “You’re not important enough for me to prioritize you, spend time with you, or really care about what’s going on in your life.”
  2. Your Anger.  Psalm 27:4 says that wrath is cruel. When you react in anger, you can thoughtlessly say or do things in the heat of the moment that deeply wound your children’s spirits long-term, which can cause them to withdraw from you. Love is slow to anger. But if you blow your top, then humble yourself and quickly apologize. Too much is at stake!
  3. Unjust discipline.   Children can sour if they feel discipline is unjustified or administered unfairly. Parents must explain rules and consequences clearly using God’s Word and authority rather than their opinion. (Ephesians 6:1-3) As you discipline, as yourself, “How can I train them without losing their heart?”
  4. Harsh criticism.   Dads can sometimes be unnecessarily hard on their kids. What seems like a small chisel of criticism to you can feel like a crushing hammer to them. Never call your children names or embarrass them in public. Don’t be sarcastic or belittling. Kids who have no freedom to fail will tend to rebel when given any freedom at all.
  5. Lack of Compassion.   Mercy warms hearts. Carelessness distances them. Children can get worked up about temporary, pressing matters—school, friends, feelings, competitions. We must provide a listening ear, wise counsel, prayerful support, and a willing hand. Rescuing your kids during times of panic makes you their hero!  Help them think of you as an oasis they can run to, not a dry desert that offers no relief.
  6. Favoritism.  Less favored children become resentful. Favoritism and jealousy led Rachel and Leah to fight and Joseph’s brothers to hate him. You may not feel like you play favorites—but perception is reality to your children if they think you do. Every one of your children should feel like you have no favorites, but if you did, it would probably be them because of your great love for them. (see this post about a guy who openly shared one of his children was his favorite)
  7. Hypocrisy.  No one is perfect, but preaching one thing while doing another, breaking promises, and refusing to apologize will kill trust between you and your children. When they identify hypocrisy in you, be quick to repent, turning from your sin and seeking God’s forgiveness along with your family’s.
  8. Hurting their Mother.  Whether through divorce, adultery, or mistreatment, children feel confused and betrayed when their father hurts their mother. They will tend to take up offense for the woman who loves them. Since they are commanded by God to honor their mother, you need to defend her not attack her. If you teach them to dishonor her, they will eventually dishonor you.
  9. Misunderstanding.  Rebellion is often tied to kids feeling misunderstood and not listened to by their parents. When children open up, parents need to listen carefully and then communicate back what they have heard to the child before sharing their own opinions or disagreeing with them. If a matter is important to them, it should be to you. Tune in.
  10. Unrealistic expectations.  Children will become quickly discouraged if they believe their parents have set them up to fail. Avoid comparing their weaknesses with another child’s strengths or expecting them to act as mature as you. If your child believes he can’t please you, he’ll eventually quit trying.

Let these ten warnings signs help you to avoid future pitfalls and also motivate changes that will draw your children back into your arms. As a father, you must keep your radar up to sense if you have your children’s hearts. Periodically ask them things like…

Have I ever wounded you and not made it right?

Have I said one thing and done another?

Have I made promises and not kept them?

Is there anything that you are angry with me about?

Is there anything you are not telling me because you are afraid of how I might respond?

Your kids may be able to present you a “list of crimes” that have wronged or angered them. Be ready to write, work through them, and apologize so you can let the healing begin.

One man was sitting with his family at a father-daughter banquet held by their church. Someone at the table asked one of the girls what her father had done that made the biggest impression on her. She said, “I remember one time when Dad was harsh with me. Then a few minutes later he came back into my room, and he cried and asked my forgiveness. I’ve never forgotten that.”

God can graciously redeem our many failures for good, provided we recognize those failures and confess them. Too many men foolishly refuse to apologize because they’re trying to save face and don’t want to look bad. But their pride is only making matters worse. Dads who admit their shortcomings don’t lose their children’s trust. They gain it.

To be continued…

 

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011 Now Available Where Books are Sold

FATHERS LEADING HEART TO HEART by Stephen Kendrick

This is the 2nd of an excerpt from Chapter 7 of The Resolution for Men by Alex and Stephen Kendrick

kids leaving faithFATHERS LEADING HEART TO HEART

One of the most important ingredients for successful parenting is having your children’s hearts. Research shows that Christians are theologically losing the next generation. More than 90% of born-again kids today are rejecting the absolute truth their parents embrace. Respected apologist Josh McDowell explains it this way: “You can be the greatest explainer of truth. But if the very heart of your son or daughter does not believe ‘my daddy loves me,’ they will walk away from your truth.”

People tend to embrace the teaching and beliefs of those who love them the most. And your children are no different. They are much more likely to accept the truth you teach if you deliver it to them within a loving, heart-to-heart relationship. Whoever has their heart has their ear.

This sheds light on why God ended the Old Testament with the need to “restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). When this doesn’t happen, fathers invite the “curse” of broken relationships into their homes (verse 6). Truth will be forsaken. So the success of Christian families truly depends on parents learning to shepherd the hearts of their children.

One of the greatest challenges to any father is knowing how to properly wield his authority— how to be a gracious servant-leader rather than a demanding tyrant. Some fathers are content with outward obedience only. The heart doesn’t really matter. They just want their kids to behave. But children in that situation will jump at the chance to disobey when their dad isn’t around. They’ll go elsewhere to find their affirmation—from the wrong people in the wrong places.

You can tell when a father doesn’t have his kids’ hearts. You sense the disrespect and anger, the bitterness and emotional distance. The kids don’t want to be around him. They no longer listen to him. But children who trust their dad’s counsel and leadership are those whose fathers have been proactive in winning their hearts. “Give me your heart, my son,” Solomon said to his own child, “and let your eyes delight in my ways” (Proverbs 23:26).

One pastor wisely explained it like this:

 “The key ingredient in raising good children is to get their hearts early, keep their hearts, and be extremely vigilant not to lose your children’s hearts. If you do lose your child’s heart, then quickly find out where and when you lost it, and put into action a plan to get their heart back no matter what it takes to do it. No matter how much time or trouble or money it takes to get back your child’s heart, you must decide ahead of time that you will be willing to pay the price.” – Dr. S.M. Davis

You know how to do this if you’ve ever dated or courted someone. You can tell if their heart is with you or not. You know when something is not right, when the connection between you is strained. If this is a relationship you really want to pursue, you’ll talk as long as they want, go the extra mile, fulfill any promise, do whatever it takes to make sure you have her heart and she know she has yours.

Why should your relationship with your children be any different?

Jesus was so loyal to His heavenly Father that He was able to say, “Whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19). And here’s why: “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing” (verse 20). The Father knew the heart of His Son, and the Son entrusted His heart to the Father.

How well do you have your children’s hearts?

How sure are your children that they have yours?

 

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011 Now Available Where Books are Sold

SETTING UP YOUR KIDS FOR TRUE SUCCESS

setting up kids to win

From the Resolution for Men…

Every little boy in a baseball uniform who steps up to the plate to face a pitcher will lift his bat with hope. But the intensity of that hope depends on the level of his self-confidence.

Many go to bat just hoping they don’t strike out or get hit in the head. Some hope the pitcher will walk them to first. Others are only hoping they somehow hit the ball—somewhere, anywhere.

But imagine a boy whose father currently plays in the major leagues. He’s watched his dad round the bases in massive stadiums before thousands of cheering fans. He knows the players on his father’s team by name. He was swinging plastic bats in the backyard when he was in diapers. Baseball is in his blood.

As he steps up to the plate and looks over to see his dad cheering him on from the stands, he lifts his bat with a greater vision of success in his eyes. He knows he’s knocking this next pitch over the centerfielder’s head.

He truly believes he can do it.

He not only sees himself rounding the bases, but winning the game for the team, playing in high school, college, and even the big leagues. His dad has told him he can. He’s heard his father’s vivid stories of sacrifice, hard work, and adventure on the way to playing professionally. His dad has put up posters of the all-time greats on his son’s bedroom wall and spent hours with him in the batting cage. He’s committed to walking his namesake through every step of the journey, and do whatever he can to make success happen for his son. This is what it looks like to have a higher definition of success than most people in the world. And this is what it looks like to have the blessing of your father.

Too many parents have very low standards when it comes to defining success for their children. Some just want them not to mess up their lives. Others hope they will graduate from college and find a decent job. Although this sounds noble, it is not impressive in God’s eyes. That’s like hoping your son just gets to first base.

But what should success look like for your children? Do they know? Have you told them and talked about it? Have they seen you modeling it yourself?

This fourth point of Resolution for men is about getting God’s vision inside their heads . . . by resolving to get inside their hearts.

Real-Life Success

When Moses stood before the nation of Israel to give his final speech before he died, he boldly redefined success for them. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Jesus later referred to this as the greatest commandment of all time. Through this, God is calling us to do the greatest thing (to love) toward the greatest One (God Himself) in the greatest way (with all that we are). If anyone finds worldly fame and prosperity but misses out on this, he actually misses everything. It is God’s will that we love Him, obey Him, and live for Him. He should always be our greatest priority and our first love.

But not only is this how we define success for ourselves; this is how we are called as fathers to define success for our children and grandchildren. To see them living for Christ and making Him known through their lives is infinitely more important than their success on the ball field or in the classroom, more important than any award they may receive, more important than landing an impressive job or making a lot of money.

To love God and do His will is to succeed in life.  Period.

But this message is more than just information for our kids to download or a sentence to say one or two times and hope they get it. Moses told us precisely how to instill this truth into our children’s lives.

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

Two takeaways from this. First, God’s Word must “be on your heart.” Children who forsake the faith are usually those who did not see God actively working in their parents’ lives. But they develop an appetite for God when they see their dad and mom truly loving Him and walking with Him, when they see the blessings and rewards of your obedience firsthand. Whether it’s delighting in His creation, enthusiastically telling them stories from His Word, or celebrating His goodness in ordinary conversation, you should delight in the Lord around your kids. You can’t inspire them with truths you’re not living yourself.

So when God answers your prayers, tell your kids about it. When He changes your heart or helps you overcome temptation, celebrate it with them. When you face a season of suffering or persecution, let them see the strength of your faith. Just point out how He works. In your own life. In your own words.

One clearly answered prayer can powerfully instill faith toward God in the heart of your child. One humbly confessed mistake can help them see the everyday reality of God’s redemption. Every day gives you fresh, new material for making your life with Christ a front-row experience for the whole family. Let them see that loving Him is what gets you out of bed in the morning.

Training your children to love God must occur within the context of close relationships. It must be part of your daily interactions with them—when greeting your kids at the breakfast table, sitting around the house, having spiritually rich conversations in the car or at dinner, praying together before going to sleep each night.

Help them fall in love with God!

You don’t have to be eloquent or seminary trained to do this. It’s those “Did you know . . .” or “Hey, by the way . . .” moments that mean the most to your kids—things you talk about while you’re out in the yard, heading to the store, or working on a project together.

Making disciples of all nations begins with your own children. By talking with your kids about Him through the day, and then (most important) modeling a love for Him in your own life, you set up your sons and daughters for long-term, multigenerational success.

To be continued…

This article is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of the book The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick with Lawrence Kimbrough.  Published by B&H Publishing Group, Copyright 2011  Now Available Where Books are Sold

Measuring Your Fathers Heart Monitor? Need a Shock?

A Father's heartThe Incredible Power of a Fathers Heart

A friend and mentor of mine sent me a link last week to a great column in the New York Times called: The Heart Grows Smarter by David Brooks. It’s about an incredible study called The Grant Study that began in 1938, where researchers began to study 268 students at Harvard University. The idea was to track them through their entire lives and see how they fared regarding things like health, career, successes and failures.

Back then researchers apparently didn’t focus a great deal on the relationships these men had or on their families but their focus seemed to be more on “did they have a “masculine” body type? Did they show signs of vigorous genetic endowments?”  (Sounds a little familiar doesn’t it as we currently live in a culture that puts so much emphasis on how we look and our fitness).

The “Hidden” and Significant Value of Relationship

Interestingly enough as the study progressed the importance and value of relationships became paramount. The men who grew up in homes with parents who were warm versus cold and aloof were much more likely to become first lieutenants and majors in World War II. The men who grew up in hard, unaffectionate, “distant” homes were much more likely to finish the war as privates. Interesting isn’t it–the power of a fathers heart?

The physical strength of the men, whether they were short, tall, stocky or thin, had nothing to do with how the men would fare in life. Birth order, political bent and even social class had very little effect on how their “life stories” turned out. But, having a warm childhood was incredibly powerful. As George Vaillant, the study director, summed it up: “It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.” Of the 31 men in the study incapable of establishing intimate bonds, only four are still alive. Of those who were better at forming relationships, more than a third are still living.

Quality over Quantity

It’s not that the men who flourished had perfect childhoods. Rather, as Vaillant puts it, “What goes right is more important than what goes wrong.” The positive effect of one loving relative, mentor or friend can overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happen.

In case after case, the magic formula is capacity for intimacy combined with persistence, discipline, order and dependability. The men who could be affectionate about people and organized about things had very enjoyable lives.

What does this say to me as a Father and a Grandfather? It shouts, “Showing up”, being present spiritually, physically and emotionally  with my children, grandchildren and even those kids I am called to mentor continues to be proven over and again as an ongoing investment I must make.

Remember what Mr. Vaillant, the study director said: The positive effect of one loving relative, mentor or friend can overwhelm the negative effects of the bad things that happen.

Finishing Strong

Dad’s, Granddads, because we are called to step up and take the lead in our kids’ lives, I think this has “us” written all over it.  This realization hit me hard personally. My kids are grown and how many times did I choose “miscellaneous” or the urgent matter of the moment over being intentional with time, attention and ability to convey a warm heart to my kids?  I’m ashamed of my failures. But, God my Father is a Father of Grace. And, I still have an opportunity to finish strong.

Presidents will come and go. Stock markets will spike and crash. But time, tenderness and imparting truth are some of the best investments I can make in this life. These are eternal, not momentary.

We can’t always control what happens in the lives of our children, grandchildren or even the inner city kid we see on the street corner, but if we invest into them faith, truth, words of encouragement and a warm heart, those are tools which can empower the young to rise above the challenges of life and be truly successful.  In other words, more than your money, your taxi service or your correction, they need your heart, a fathers heart.

I have a granddaughter now.  Though I’m not her dad, she still needs me, not only as a spiritual adviser but as an “old guy” to hang out with by the fishing pond.  And when the sun sets, she needs me to carry her in my arms up the path toward home.  Like every child in this world, she needs men, not only those who invest the right things into her but also men who share their hearts so she experiences the true love of a Fathers heart.

It’s never too late to invest in your children, grandchildren or a young man or woman that God has brought into your life.  If you pass this test you can share your life…hold your hands up to your mouth.  Now, exhale.  Can you feel anything in your hands?  You pass.  Time to invest and give your heart away.  You’ll never regret it…and neither will they.

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4 Amplified Bible – Lockman)

 

 

What “Ales” You?

by guest blogger, Roy Baldwin (Director of Parenting and Youth Ministries at Focus on the Family)

fatherhood comission - addictions

I was watching a news story about a 19 year old dad, Cesar Ruiz, in Louisiana who gave his 2 month old son alcohol.  The son registered a .289 percent blood alcohol content.  According to the AP report; Col. John Fortunato said Ruiz told authorities he acted to relieve his son’s suffering, and did not mean to kill him. Did not mean to kill him?

When we talk about dads, we quickly refer to all the data out there about the horrible impact on our children and society because of absent dads.  Even if we are there, as this story suggests, we can still make choices and decisions that have horrible consequences.  According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration) National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, seventy six million American adults have been impacted by alcohol in the family. Alcoholism is responsible for more family problems than any other single cause. Do you know someone who struggles with alcohol?

My heart truly goes out to this dad and so many dads out there who struggle being the dad they were created to be for their children.  Men have let addictions to alcohol, drugs, pornography and many other vices shape their ability to cope with stress and suffering in our world and we are actively and passively passing those onto our children.  Proverbs 13:12 states, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Ultimately our deepest longings can only be fulfilled by Christ.

I remember a few years ago when things drastically changed for me and my family. I was without work, family on public assistance and our housing situation was unstable.  I remember feeling completely stripped as a man of all the vices and comforts of this world until only one thing was left; Christ.  He began rebuilding my heart and my life and put things back in their right place.  I learned to trust Him in ways I never had to before and so did my family.  We began to trust God with the big and small stuff in our lives, and we shared together the comfort we received from Him with others.  He became our Rock.  We often look back on those times as we face new challenges and stresses and remind ourselves that He is faithful and good.

What challenges or trials are you facing?  Are your ultimate longings being met by the Creator who gave them to you or are you having those longings met by things or people who will never be able to deliver?  Do you have a loved one struggling with an addiction? Get help.  Don’t be like Cesar who used his own poor coping mechanisms to relieve his son of pain by offering something that almost killed his son.  There is hope…it’s just not found in a bottle, or relationship, or politics or….you fill in your blank.

Roy Baldwin

Ps.  If you are struggling with an addiction like alcohol, drugs, pornography, or anything else, Focus on the Family has counselors available to talk with you.   http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/14190

 

 

Do You Have A Family Plan (and this is not about the size of your family)?

Family Plan

Plan? What Plan?  by Bill Eyster

I was recently at a men’s getaway weekend. We took a few days of time away in fellowship, recreation and considering our responsibilities as fathers, husbands and men of God.
There is something incredibly powerful when a group of christian men get together to speak into each others lives and “spur one another on”. If this practice of getting away is not a part of your spiritual development, I encourage you to seek out a group of men that you can get away with and grow together as men. Life is meant to be a team sport and we need to guard against isolating ourselves .
During the weekend, we were asked the question,
“Why do we plan in our work life better than we do in our home life?”
The answers were interesting:
– I never thought about it as needed at home
– It’s a requirement at work, accountable to my boss
– Success criteria is clear at work
– Ignorance
– I don’t have a clear view of where we are going as a family
– I am always reacting to life at home and managing the chaos
– I don’t know how
When you think about it, it’s a great question. Most everyone would agree that in our professional lives, we plan, we have strategies, goals, objectives, deliverables, timelines… you name it, we’ve got it. All so that we can be successful in our professional lives.

No one said they plan better at home than they do at work.

No Family Plan is a Plan…just not a winning one

I was struck by how problematic this is!  As men of God, none of us would say that our professional lives are more important than our families. We also know that it is a biblical mandate that we lead our families skillfully (read Psalm 78: 72 and Deuteronomy 6: 5-9).

With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.  (Psalm 78:72 ESV)

 

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

(Deuteronomy 6:5-9 ESV)

The bible clearly instruct us to lead our families skillfully!
In our professional lives, we have developed our skills to be successful. Likewise, we need to skill up to successfully lead our families…

Suggestions to help you get started on your family plan

Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:
–  Spend some time praying about and considering what your family is all about from a  long term perspective. Write down the key principles you want your family to live by and the hopes and desires you have for your children and your marriage. Share this with your wife to get her input and discernment. You will be amazed by how much thought she has given to this.
–  Getaway with your wife for some time to pray and consider where you are as parents and in your marriage and what actions you need to take.
–  Find a godly man who you respect and admire in how he led his family and ask him to mentor you as the spiritual leader of your family.
–  Pray with your wife daily.
Someone said, “The easiest thing to do is nothing”. I encourage you, don’t take the easy way out. Your family is too important and the stakes are too high!

By: Bill Eyster

In addition to being on the Board of Directors for the Fatherhood CoMission, Bill is the Executive Vice President and COO of FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru (formerly, Campus Crusade for Christ).  FamilyLife is a ministry that was created on the principle that the family provides the foundation for society. The ministry offers a wide range of tools to help families become stronger.


To D or Not to D—That is the Question

by Guest author, Jeff Abramovitz

Childhood Discipline.

The root word of discipline is also found in the word Disciple. In other words, there is a similarity between growing in maturity (in this case as a Christian) and being disciplined. I can’t think of many who like the word, discipline. To be honest, in certain things, I’m not very disciplined. It’s something I’m continually working on in various aspects of my life. On a larger scale and with a rather broad brush, I’m going to say that the lack of discipline of our children is at or near epidemic proportions. Consider this verse out of Hebrews 11:

“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11 ESV)”

I’m not sure that this is a) a PC way of living in our culture and b) happening in every home from every father to every son (and daughter). The result? A growing generation of young men and women who lack respect for others and themselves because they haven’t learned that bad choices have consequences and there are boundaries in living that shouldn’t be crossed. I could go on and on in various areas of living where this is more than evident. Certainly the bullying in schools is symptomatic of this issue. Teen pregnancies…classroom disrespect of teachers…lack of initiative to stay the course and persevere…and so on are a few more. I believe that these dilemmas that we try to solve on the back end with band aids (like condoms, for example) is significantly attributable to the lack of discipline in the home.

I’m not talking about beating up your kids. I’m talking about the hard decisions to apply appropriate discipline to your children for acts they commit. I believe kids who have and know their boundaries, who cross those boundaries and then are punished appropriately and accordingly are better prepared to leave home, do well in college and in life. They understand that choices have results and consequences and that we don’t get to “do whatever we want” without it impacting someone or something else.

Here’s something to consider:

Review your discipline at home. Have you let your children get away with things at home that they should have been punished for? Remember to distinguish accidents from rebellion. Rebellion is sin. And, from their first “NO” or “MINE” that occur without any training, they are (as we are) sinful from the start. Discipline appropriately applied will help prepare them for life.

It’s hard to deny your child attendance at a friends sleepover but that might be the exact punishment for sneaking out of the house or skipping a class–provided they know that is unacceptable behavior. So, as you examine your discipline habits, first look at your communication of expectations.

Your first ToDo might be to establish some ground rules that you haven’t previously communicated and have a family gathering to communicate the how’s and why’s. Or, it might be that you need to sit down and proclaim that from here on out, these are the rules and violation of them will result in some form of childhood discipline. Then, make sure you follow through. Oh, and make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. That is a key because kids have an innate ability to play one of you against the other.

Finally, before, during and after the discipline, take time to share the “why” of the discipline. Why did their action result in punishment and why is that not a right way to act for them and in life? Never discipline out of anger. That will often turn it from childhood discipline to abuse. That’s not what God instructs or infers we are to do as fathers. No matter what, make sure they know you love them. No matter what they’ve done, you love them and care for them. Just as God the Father loves us despite our sin (“For God so loved the world that He gave us his One and only Son). This is a big task, but one you can start today. Be tough, be fair, be there.

Today’s post originally appeared on DadPad, a blog written by Jeff Abramovitz with other dad bloggers contributing.  You can find his blog by clicking here: http://dadpad.org/2012/10/10/dads-todo-today-to-d-or-not-to-d/http://dadpad.org/2012/10/10/dads-todo-today-to-d-or-not-to-d/