Reflecting on 2012

by Bill Eyster, FamilyLife

As we ring in a new year, it is often a time of reflection on the past year and anticipation of the coming year. Here’s a suggestion for you and your family to build intentionality as you transition to 2013…

Happy-New-Year-2013-Facebook-CoverGather your family together (maybe even turn off the football game) and ask this question,

“How were you blessed in 2012?”

It’s a great question. The responses offer start with the most recent activities (gifts they got at Christmas or travel to see family for the holidays). But, if you keep digging and probing, you will be amazed at the very real and varied ways you and your family have been blessed.

Probe by recounting:

– Trips that each of you have taken. (family vacations, mission trips, etc)

– Major milestones reached (16th birthday, anniversaries, start of school, etc),

– Significant activities or efforts (ACT tests, sporting competitions, etc),

– Big purchases (car, home, bike, maybe something one of you has been saving up for)

– Friendships that are new or deeper,

– Key lessons learned,

– Major sicknesses or accidents.

You get the idea…

Our family has been doing this for many years. it has given us a great perspective of how God is at work in our lives and how he provides so many blessings that are often taken for granted. This perspective gives us great hope and expectancy as we look toward the coming year!

So, give it a try.

The Gift of Christmas – Ourselves

by Roy Baldwin

The Gift of Christmas

The Baldwin Family

We hope you had a Merry Christmas — from the Fatherhood CoMission! (due to unforeseen circumstances, this post was to publish on Christmas Eve…so, though it's now officially past Christmas, the sentiments within are still fresh and relevant year round)

As my family and I have been battling the flu going into Christmas I have come to this realization. Our best laid plans meet obstacles and challenges along the way. Our family has experienced its share of struggles this year.

The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs was one of those challenges. Praise the Lord we did not lose our home, but being evacuated and figuring out those things that are truly important is no easy task. As we were decorating our Christmas tree with all of our ornaments we have been collecting over the years, I realized the loss we would have had if we had lost everything. Our ornaments didn’t make the list of those things that were necessities…but what a loss if that had happened.

One of the thoughts I want to leave with you this Christmas Eve is “store up your treasures in Heaven.” In Psalm 49:16-19:

Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
 when the glory of his house increases.
17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
 his glory will not go down after him.
18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
 —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
 who will never again see light.

What a powerful passage for us as dads as we lead our families. Our success and our treasures have no eternal significance. In fact as this passage suggests, our generations will never again see light. They will not know the “Reason for the Season.” But…we have this hope found in Isaiah 9:

The people who walked in darkness
 have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
 on them has light shone….
For to us a child is born,
 to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
 and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
 Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

The greatest gift we can give our children is ourselves. Our time and our love. Our attention. That is what our Heavenly Father did at Christmas. By sending His Son…He gave His time and love. As dads, we are His image-bearers. Christmas reminds us that our greatest treasure on earth is our family and raising children who will fall in love with our Savior. This is the one true gift that will last for generations…for eternity.

Merry Christmas…my prayer for you is that you will, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9)

The Most Important Gift You Will Give Your Children

By: The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton, author of the recent fatherhood best-seller “Be a Better Dad Today: Ten Tools Every Father Needs” (Regal, 2012). All royalties from the book are being given to fatherhood/family charities. For more please see www.BeABetterDadToday.com and www.FellowshipOfFathersFoundation.org or contact Mr. Slayton at gws@fellowshipoffathersfoundation.org

true moral compassIn much of North America today—and throughout much of the world—it’s not popular to talk about setting high moral standards. In fact, many people avoid the subject of moral standards altogether. According to American pop culture, the idea of a “moral compass” is too old-fashioned or too difficult or too constraining. However, these are the same people who moan and complain when a contractor shortchanges them or a close friend fails them or a politician gets caught lying or the CEO of a large company is convicted of cheating his shareholders. They say, “Who are these people—and why don’t they know right from wrong?”

Well, these are men and women who probably grew up in homes with dads who did not have a strong moral compass for themselves or their families. And guess what? It really does matter . . . a lot.

A True Moral Compass matters for your own character and personal development, and for that of your wife and children. Make no mistake: There is no more important gift a father can give his children than a strong moral compass. Not money or fame or houses. Not even close. No material thing will ever help guide your child when he or she has grown up and faces truly difficult moral and ethical challenges. We all know that our children will one day have to face these challenges head-on—that is certain. The decisions they make will shape their families, their careers and their very lives and those of their children (your grandchildren). Having a True Moral Compass to guide them will give them the best chance possible of leading themselves and their families on the right path.

Rich or poor, all of us as parents will pass on some kind of Moral Compass to our children. The only question is this: Will it be one that works well in all settings, or will it be a “situational” compass that points in different directions depending on the situation or our personal feelings or whatever (which is the very definition of a bad compass).

Sadly, many dads today don’t focus much on passing a True Moral Compass on to their children. In much of America today, too many dads have completely abdicated this prime responsibility. They say it’s too hard. Or they’re too busy. Or it’s not cool. Or others just don’t understand their kids. Later in life, these same dads are “shocked, shocked” (to use a great quote from my all-time favorite movie, Casablanca) when their kids grow up to be adults who lie like a rug or cheat in business or commit adultery.

Likewise, in our society at large, many people don’t like to talk about moral standards. But they are absolutely vital to the functioning of any family and culture. Think about it. What kind of a family would you have if your wife repeatedly lied to you (or you to her)? What kind of a family would you have if your kids stole from you? What kind of a family would we have if our kids couldn’t depend on the commitment of Mom or Dad? The answers are obvious.

But think about it a little more. What kind of society would we have if everyone was constantly lying or cheating, so that no one could rely on anyone else? The answer is also very clear. In fact, there are a growing number of failed nations in our world with cultures that are all too close to that. These countries are among the poorest of the poor, in large part because no one trusts each other. The rule of law has broken down—and the law of the jungle has replaced it.

Unfortunately, there are way too many dads today who think that someone else is supposed to teach their children right and wrong. Teachers, pastors, coaches, guidance counselors and others can be important allies in this effort, but they are not equipped—nor are they able—to do it by themselves. Certainly our children need to have good role models outside the family (the importance of which is discussed in my book, Be a Better Dad Today, Tool #8 (of 10) “Other Good Dads”). But from time immemorial, in cultures all over the world, it has always been one of the primary jobs of the father (and mother) to teach their children the difference between right and wrong. That moral imperative has not changed today, and it is our responsibility as fathers to lead in this important work.

I’m not saying that if Mom and Dad do their very best their kids will not make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, just like us, our kids can make huge mistakes. As God’s Word teaches, “Love covers over a multitude of sins [including mistakes]” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV). But one thing is clear across cultures and across continents: If we as dads do our best to set high moral standards for our families—both in word and deed—our kids will have a much better chance of developing a strong moral backbone themselves. In fact, the Bible gives an interesting promise to all dads (and moms) who may be wondering about this: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, NASB).”

That’s a profound verse—and one that is frequently misunderstood. Note that it does not say, “Your children will never make a mistake” or “Your kids will be perfect teenagers.” It says that if we train up our children (including helping them to understand right and wrong), when they are adults they will remember those lessons.

The “rule of law” starts at home, and it starts with us dads. We must live up to the rules we set down (in agreement with Mom) in our households. If we break one of those rules, we should admit it and ask our family to forgive us. That is the only way the rule of law works: It is either true for everyone or it is true for no one. Once we establish the basic rules by which our home is governed, we must ensure that they are understood and followed—“understood” because no one is going to follow a rule they don’t understand, and “followed” because a rule is not a rule unless it is for everyone.

Once our children understand the basic rules, they will test them. That is where we must apply appropriate discipline. I know that parental discipline is not a popular subject today, but trust me, all love with no discipline can be as much of a disaster as all discipline with no love. Both of the extremes are fatal to a family. But the happy medium, 10 parts love to 1 part discipline, is a good rule of thumb. Consistent, age-appropriate discipline is absolutely necessary. In fact, I will go so far as to say that your children’s success in the future depends on it.

_________________________________________________________

All rights reserved. The Honorable Gregory W. Slayton is the author of the recent fatherhood best-seller “Be a Better Dad Today: Ten Tools Every Father Needs” (Regal, 2012). Royalty profits from the book are being given to fatherhood/family charities.  See www.BeABetterDadToday.com and www.FellowshipOfFathersFoundation.org or contact Mr. Slayton via gws@fellowshipoffathersfoundation.org

Dealing with Depression

depressed manDo you realize that many Christian leaders struggle with depression, even during the holidays? Depression is a silent distractor and disabler of many Christian leaders throughout the year. Its causes can be many including biological, genetic, stress, chemical imbalances etc.

Charles Spurgeon considered “the prince of preachers” in the 1800’s struggled with depression.  Tommy Nelson one of today’s most popular pastors, author and family leader shared his struggle with depression openly through lectures, interviews and books.

I know of numerous fathering and family leaders who sometimes silently struggle with the “demon of depression” including myself.  Depression can strike anyone, including leaders who are out front leading the battle on today’s biggest faith and family challenges.

Depression typically doesn’t just go away. It takes courage, intentionality and often seeking outside help including a medical doctor or therapist.  If you are married to a spouse dealing with depression, you can also help by familiarizing yourself with what they are struggling with and how to help them versus making it worse.

This holiday season; say a special prayer for our leaders, fathers and pastors. We need them on the front lines.

The Power of A Dad at Home

fatherhood comissionWhy bother trying to encourage fathers to step up to the plate and lead their families?  The answer is obvious: Fatherless affects everything and everybody.

According to the National Center for Fathering, children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems. Boys are more likely to become involved in crime, and girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens.  The power of a dad is immeasurable.

Remember that each time we as leaders encourage a dad to be a dad by spending time with his children, helping with homework, showing up for sporting events, attending church together, shooting hoops, taking them fishing or hunting… we are blessing a child.  Jesus felt strongly about blessing children (Matthew 19:14), so should we.

*To read the full report on the consequences of fatherlessness by NCF go to: http://www.fathers.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=391

We All Need a Little P D C

A new friend and member of the Fatherhood CoMission family, Jamie Bohnett, shared some quotes from a book written by Henri Nouwen back in 1979 entitled, “The Wounded Healer.” They are worth sharing:

“The man of prayer is a leader precisely because through his articulation of God’s work within himself he can lead others out of confusion to clarification; through his compassion he can guide them out of the closed circuits of their in-groups to the wide world of humanity.” (p. 47)

“The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” (p.72)

“The man who has spent many hours trying to understand, feel, and clarify the alienation and confusion of one of his fellow men might be the best equipped to speak to the needs of the many, because all men are one at the wellspring of  pain and joy.” (p. 73)

As a father and leader, these quotes struck me deeply. They caused me to really reflect asking these questions:

  • Am I a leader of my family and others who is led by prayer? Honestly, not always. Often prayer comes behind my own thinking, desires and failed attempts. I’m still learning to ask God before trying to solve the challenge at hand.
  • What “deserts” have I been through in my life that I have not yet shared “the path out of” with others? What difficult times have I been through as a father, leaders and what have I learned that I have not yet allowed others to know about? Do I have the courage to share them or will I keep them hidden and lost by my passing? I am praying that God will give me the insight and courage to do so.
  • How compassionate am I really to “the one” person that God puts in front of me? Often as fathers and leaders of others, “the one person” gets lost in “the many”.  “Lord, help me to focus on “the one’s” in my family and those I lead. Help me to understand, feel and clarify their pain and joy’s and in turn do the same for “the many.”

My thoughts have been swirling around these questions today. I believe they have helped me to be take one step to being a better leader, father and granddad. My prayer is that these quotes will challenge you similarly.

The Low Down on The Fatherhood Summit 2012

Fatherhood Leadership Summit team

Over sixty leaders and spouses came together last week at Winshape Retreat in Rome, Georgia to support the 2012 FCM Summit Vision: to train, equip, and unify local and national ministry leaders so they can strategically work together to champion the cause of Biblical fatherhood across the nation.  Practically our desire was to rejoice and laugh, grieve and pray, listen and learn, educate and encourage each other, network and fellowship, and then dream and collaborate so that we can be united in advancing God’s design and heart for strong fatherhood.  We feel these goals were met by God’s good grace. Be encouraged by reading testimonies submitted by Fathering Leaders who attended (below).

There are two prominent questions being asked stemming from the 2012 Summit:

1.      What’s next?      This is a question that we are all asking and seeking the favor of God about.  Currently here’s what  we have been shown:

  • Ongoing encouragement for Fatherhood leaders to work together in unity, laying aside ego’s and logo’s for the common good of the big K (kingdom) cause.
  • To embark on a significant Father’s Day undertaking together.  The FCM Board is convening in Dallas in January to solidify ideas and strategy.
  • To offer the Fatherhood Leaders Summit again in 2013 at Winshape.
  • Keep relationships moving forward through conference calls, web-n-r’s, social media

2.      What can I do?    Though we are still very much in the formation stage, below are specific tasks which will help FCM continue its work into 2013 and beyond:

  • Pray regularly that God will bless this movement with unprecedented guidance, protection and favor.
  • Help us spread the word about FCM by posting on our Facebook page , “like” us and post links to FCM on your social media channels.
  • Sign up for our blog and forward link to your email contacts
  • Follow FCM on twitter and re-tweet FCM tweets
  • Share “best of” resources on our FB page– help put tools in fathering champion’s “tool boxes”
  • Share what is happening through FCM with your pastor, church leaders and community leaders
  • FCM board members have committed to make a personal donation to FCM by end of month. If you believe in the direction we are heading, prayerfully consider a personal donation or ask friends, colleagues, influencers to make a year end gift to our 2013 efforts.  Details about online donations coming soon. Send donation questions or intents to: mitchtempleonline@gmail.com

Follow this link for a Summit slideshow. Enjoy!

Thank you again and May God bless us as we stand together and champion the noble calling of fatherhood. I am truly honored to help lead this effort into the year 2013.