Wash Their Feet

 

…He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciple’s feet… -John 13:5 (NKJV)

You’ve probably heard the statistic at some point that an alarmingly high number (80-90%) of children raised in a Christian home will leave the faith after graduation. Though there is a long and quite in-depth list of the many reasons why, the two that have always stuck out to me the most are: 1.) Children are never taught to own their faith; and 2.) they don’t see their parents living it out.

Men, this should be a huge concern to us! Without taking away from a mother’s irreplaceable role in a child’s upbringing, multiple studies have shown that a father is one of the primary influencers in his children’s faith. Going back to the two points listed above begs the question: Men, are you teaching your children to own their own faith—and are they seeing you genuinely living yours out?

 

And supper being ended…Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands…rose from supper, and laid aside His garments, took a towel, and girded Himself. -John 13:2-4

 

When we look at the full story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, what do you see and feel? Is this a favorite Bible story of yours, perhaps you have been the recipient of someone washing your feet at some time (or vice versa)? Or, do you see the agape love Christ is expressing to His friends, the fact He is giving us a new commandment (v 34), and setting an example for the way we should love others? Can you feel the love, intimacy, and devotion He is displaying? Perhaps not, even Peter didn’t pick up on it at the time either. Still, pursuing a relationship like this with Jesus should be a continual effort of ours.

 

Passing on the Heritage

I don’t read or watch the news any more, seriously. All I must do is flip on the TV or open my phone and even the highest of spirits can be dampened in an instant. Politics. Scandals. Murder. This doesn’t mean I am completely oblivious to the world, quite the opposite; but if the Church is going to stand as the primary response to the world’s chaos, we need to be equipped with solid and loving information. That is where our own personal quiet time, Bible study, and extra study on various topics comes in. Are you prepared to give your children a convincing answer on how science actually favors God’s existence rather than denies it? What about standing firm on the big issues such as abortion, marriage, and gun control? More so, how do you respond to teaching your children about other faiths and religions?

I’m not throwing all of this at you to convict you—but to alert you that these are some of the questions and reasons our sons and daughters are walking away from the faith. We need to be prepared to help them understand and answer what God has to say on these matters. Yes, we are all seemingly beyond busy, but this has to take precedence. And for the record, I am still a student in training here too. Carve time out to learn more and respond in love—but not at the expense of your precious time with your children. Beware of falling into legalism too.

 

Get on Your Knees

Literally and figuratively. Pray every day with and for your children. Pray for their mom, stepdad, teachers, and everyone else that has influence in their lives. Let your heart be shaped and molded by Christ’s love for you.

 

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” …So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” -John 13:7, 12-15

 

This week I had the amazing privilege of washing my wife’s and daughter’s feet after dinner. It was Maundy Thursday, and this is the passage I chose for our post-dinner reading. I have been made clean by the blood of Christ and this was my commitment to let these women whom I love with my whole heart know that I will continually be there to love, serve, and lay my life down for them. So dads, wash your children’s feet. In an age-appropriate way, explain to them the significance of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Pray for them as you wash their feet, let them feel your hands and hear your words. And, do all you can to continually live in this feet washing mode. Set the bar for them on what a follower of Christ looks like—give them that example they can follow for the rest of their lives.

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry. For more information, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.

 

Messages on Mirrors: Fathers to Daughters

I forget what age I was when I heard my first nursery rhyme, but there is one in particular that is burrowed deep into my memory bank like a steel nail into softened wood: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”

This quote, as you probably remember, comes from the fairy tale Snow White. Every day Snow White’s stepmother would ask the mirror this infamous question. And though at first glance it might seem like a benign inquiry, I believe it powerfully illustrates the way a woman often determines whether or not she feels beautiful or adequate. She tends toward asking this power-packed question of inanimate objects, as if they were the judge and jury, be it a mirror on the wall or the number on a scale or the size marked on the back of her jeans. No human interaction necessary.

Even more concerning is the way this story demonstrates how easily an influential woman (the queen) gives away her own opinion and succumbs to feedback from a mirror over that of herself or another human being with whom she has a positive connection. In modern terminology, this translates to a woman “listening” to the definitive messages from magazines, television, and movies (a.k.a. mainstream culture) as the ultimate determiner of beauty. Inanimate objects are at the helm once again, not so different from the fairy tale your daughter may have once heard as a little girl.

The truth is your daughter is asking the same question every single day of her life: Am I beautiful? She longs to be told she is beautiful, and she will keep asking and looking until someone tells her that she is.

She needs you, dad, to answer her question. If she doesn’t hear it from you, she will find another “mirror” on another wall who will tell her that she is beautiful. Sadly, some of those mirrors have a hidden agenda, and will express what she wants to hear in order to get or take something from her.

Include your observations about her outer and her inner beauty. Think of them as two sides of the same coin, adding value while serving as complimentary counterparts. She needs to hear you address the entirety of how you see her.

What about her eyes are breathtaking? What about the way she did her make-up today is pretty? What about the color she is wearing looks stunning on her? What about her personality is creatively being expressed in her outfit or activities today? What about her character was reflected by her positive response to meeting someone’s need?

 

Here’s your practical battle plan:

Write messages with erasable marker directly onto her mirrors (in her bathroom or bedroom, or on the rearview or overhead mirror in her car), or on sticky notes that you attach to any or all of her mirrors, with truth about her from your point of view.

And if using the word “beautiful” is new or uncomfortable for you, try writing it to her first until it becomes a part of your vocabulary.

Dad, stand up as a warrior and fight for your daughter. It’s brutal out there and she needs you to do battle for her so she can see and believe the positive truth about herself.

(You can watch a video of a couple dads who used Michelle’s wisdom and the effect it had on their children here.)

 

Dr. Michelle Watson has a clinical counseling practice in Portland, Oregon and has served in that role for the past 18 years. She is founder of The Abba Project, a 9-month group forum that is designed to equip dads with daughters ages 13 to 30 to dial in with more intention and consistency, and has recently released her first book entitled, Dad, Here’s What I Really Need from You: A Guide for Connecting with Your Daughter’s Heart. She invites you to visit www.drmichellewatson.com for more information and to sign up for her weekly Dad-Daughter Friday blogs where she provides practical tools so that every dad in America can become the action hero they want to be and their daughters need them to be. You can also follow or send feedback on Facebook at www.facebook.com/drmichellewatson and Twitter @mwatsonphd.