What Kids Learn From Their Dad

How well are you representing your heavenly Father? To your son? To your daughter? That is your priceless purpose.

Both the Scriptures and statistics clearly communicate that there is no more influential person in the life of a child than his or her father. Whereas moms are priceless, irreplaceable, and needed beyond measure, they were never designed to be men or to fill the role of a dad. When the Bible states that “the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6 NKJV), it is revealing an important dynamic of how God has wired the hearts and minds of children.

They learn their identity from you. When your kids are young, they don’t know who they are, what is right or wrong, or who God is. They don’t know how to live life. But kids naturally go to their dads for answers to their biggest questions: Who is God? Who am I? Am I loved? Am I a success? Do I have what it takes? What is my purpose in life? And if dads don’t teach their kids the truth about these things, then the world will teach them lies.

They learn their values from you. Kids watch their dads to find what’s important. It’s a dad’s job to keep his children from having to learn the lessons of life the hard way. A father’s wise words and actions constantly reinforce the higher priorities and deeper truths of life. So if he is not there–or if he’s there but not intentional in his training and leadership–his kids will be walking through their most important decisions without the one person who should be loving and leading them the most.

They learn their worth from you. When a child has a dad who says, “I love you, I’m proud of you, and I’m going to stand with you and always be there for you,” it changes the life of that child forever. Sons who have their dads in their lives do significantly better in school, have better social skills and self-esteem, and are more likely to say no to criminal behavior. Similarly, when a daughter looks into the mirror, she needs to hear her father’s voice in her heart reminding her that she is beautiful and loved. As a result, girls with strong dads are much more likely to feel secure–and are much less likely to have eating disorders and identity issues or to become sexually active in their teen years. But in too many families, this is not what’s happening.

We need to rediscover God’s original intention of what our homes are supposed to be like. Families should be havens of love and enjoyment. Homes should be places of peace and purpose. But great homes don’t just happen. They are gardens that need to be intentionally cultivated and guarded. A man must let truth, love, and wise discipline become constant ingredients to his fathering. He should carefully nurture his wife, his children, and his own attitude so that his home is a place where his marriage and the next generation can grow and thrive.

That’s why we need a game-changing Resolution.

 

Excerpt from The Resolution for Men by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

Bold and Courageous: What the Resolution Means to Me

For the past couple years, I have dreamt of holding a Resolution Ceremony in my city, like the one in the movie Courageous. This year it became a reality. Traditionally, my Father’s Day events have been specific to single fathers and their children, but I decided to broaden our scope this time around. Even more so, to partner with other churches to maximize our outreach. The event was a success: 18 men (myself included) from several churches took the Resolution before God and our families. It could not have been a more special evening.

Even though this was only a few days ago, I feel different. Not like I’ve become some super man or anything—but grateful that this means something to me. Perhaps even instilling a fear of the Lord. I keep thinking of the line in the movie where the ceremony facilitator reminds the men that they are now “doubly accountable.” The Bible tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.” (Prov. 15:33) and that “If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin.” (Heb. 10:26). God has pulled on my heart for a couple years to do the Resolution, I feel now He is giving me the strength to live it out.

Along with the personal convictions and expectations I have from this past weekend, here are some other areas that really stick out to me and what I hope all men who rise to this challenge realize too:

The Resolution is about living biblical principles out in our daily lives. This may sound cliché, but when push comes to shove in life, anyone that is less than sold-out for Christ tends to gravitate to the easier road. Taking these vows with an undivided heart really helps raise the bar.

It is a daily reminder of putting ourselves third. God is first, our families and others are second, we are third. The glow of the night may fade over time, but having the Resolution hanging in your living room is a constant reminder of why we do what we do.

Locking arms with other brothers to take the vows with. Some of those men I met for the first time that evening, others I have known for over a decade. Men are strong when in community, standing shoulder to shoulder with each other. An event like this has the potential to both create new friendships and strengthen old ones—building a foundation that is so desperately needed among guys.

Silos can be broken. It was amazing to partner with three churches on the planning committee—to have leaders from other church homes work together for a greater purpose. Oh, imagine the possibilities if this became the norm in our country!

This is only the beginning. Anyone who has been in men’s ministry for any length of time knows how challenging it can be to get men engaged—especially in the deep subjects. Our plan is to have an end-of-summer cookout at the lake, and begin the book study The Resolution for Men in the fall. Each church can work at their own pace and schedule. What if over the years the number of men and churches who participate in the Resolution ceremony continues to grow—followed by small groups and other forms of ministry? A revival of manhood could be born!

 

The Challenge

Are you willing to lead the charge in helping men rise to their God-given calling as husbands, fathers, and leaders? Can you partner with other churches and organizations to bring change to your community? Will you act on this prompt sooner than later?

 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. –Josh. 1:9

 

Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry, the coauthor of The Daddy Gap, and the cofounder of the Midwest Single Parenting Summit. He is an ordinary guy who chases after an extraordinary God. Matt lives with his wife and daughter in Grand Rapids, MI. For more information, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.

He is All I Want!

bigstock-Praying-Hands-Man-Bible-2780594

 

The story is told about a young girl who was attempting to quote David’s 23 Psalm for the first time in front of her classmates. She took a deep breath and nervously begins the Psalm with, “The Lord is my Shepherd. He is all I want.” Many might think that she misquoted it. I think she got it just right. Is Christ all that we want, or do we possess divided loyalties?

American Christians have become more of a subculture rather than counterculture — a called-out one. Many are stuck in the same paradigm as the world. The subculture reflects the value system or worldview of the culture. which keeps them from becoming agents of change. A subculture is defined by the culture itself. It seems over the centuries that the only time the Church is willing to rise up is when the culture threatens its very existence.

I guess the only way for the church to be revived, to rise up, is that our very existence be threatened. We are awakened by a good dose of persecution. The Church has become a well-trained institution and the reality is that we have become very provident functioning without the manifest presence of God.

Christ is calling us to become a reflection of Him and to become aliens and strangers in this world. We are to be in the world but not of it. We are called to be revolutionaries, change agents. We were created in Christ to stand out, reflect him; not blend in and mirror the world. I think most convinced Christians would take a bullet for Christ but live for him in secret. He did the dying; he is asking us to do the denying, take up our cross, our revolutionary cause and completely follow him. (Matt. 16:24-26)

In Mark 10:17-22, Christ was asked by a convinced young man what he must to do to inherit eternal life. Christ simply asked him if he was attempting to keep all the commandments. He answered with the affirmative. He was very religious. In our day we might answer, “I go to church most Sundays; I read my Bible on occasion; I pray when I need to; I give if I have enough; I serve on work days.” How would you answer?

Scripture goes on to read, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. ‘There is still one thing you haven’t done,’ he told him. ‘Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” His riches, his possessions, were his competing loyalties! The little girl got it right; let Christ be all we want because He is all we need.

Reflect

What is God asking of you that is keeping you from completely following Christ?

 

Dr. Dan Erickson

Chief Servant Leader  |  People Matter Ministries

www.peoplematterministries.com

Keep the Three A’s in Mind

Grandfather posing with grandchildren

There are three “A’s” every one of our grandchildren need. These will help mold their hearts and help build a solid foundation for our legacy as grandfathers.

 

Attention

Attention is spelled T-I-M-E. Words are cheap but time costs.

 It is paid with our time, talent, treasure and touch.

When I was a youngster my family used to visit my grandparents at their home in Southern California. When my grandfather retired he always wanted to live by the water and spend some of his retirement time doing his favorite hobby and that was fishing.

When we used to visit them by this beautiful lake I would look at him in his boat fishing. As I observed him from the dock I wished he would teach me how to catch a fish. There were occasions he would take us out in his boat but I never once fished or caught a fish. To this day I have not caught a fish. The big one got away.

May I suggest that you intentionally plan activities

that require your grandchildren to get in the way.

My wife has come up with a great plan at Christmas. Our grandchildren look forward to this game every year. We give them a small gift but then the real fun starts. She makes up a scavenger hunt that involves the whole family. The grandchildren are given clues to test their knowledge of the true meaning of Christmas. Clues allow them to earn their special Christmas gifts – Cash! What a novel idea. It becomes memorable and a lot of fun.

This game always draws their attention.

Be creative it is memorable.

 

Affection

I emphasized this before, but I’m not sure I can say it enough. Affection and appropriate touch are vital in helping a child feel loved. If you don’t believe me ask your wife or mine. We cannot or must not forget the power of meaningful and appropriate touch. There’s real power in a HUG!

It is not enough to say you love your grandchildren.

It needs to be seen, expressed and felt.

When I think of affection I think of big giant hugs. I am a hugger. No handshakes allowed with my grandchildren. If they sneak in, I go looking for them. I want to make sure every one of them know I affectionately love them. Words are cheap. Actions speak louder than words.

Maybe you say, “I am not a hugger!” There, you said it again.

 Let me give you a piece of advice: “Get over it!” There, I said it again.

Believe it or not, the best affection you can give your grandchildren sometimes has nothing to do with hugs or words. It may require that you simply be there. My grandson had several baseball games where he kept striking out. He just needed me to walk by him on the way to the car. He wasn’t ready for words or hugs, but my presence and eye contact let him know I loved him and supported him. Our grandchildren need to know we love them, even when life throws them curve balls.

Your grandchildren need to know you are not going to

abandon them. Your children need to know it also.

 

Affirmation

Words really matter.

The old rhyme that reads; “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is a lie. Words can hurt much more than sticks or stones. They destroy the spirit. The best way to show affirmation is to take time to look in their eyes, ask questions, be quiet and listen. When you do speak, do not be a fixer or lecturer. Do a lot of “Hmm,” “Great,” I am sorry.” Be supportive, and you will earn the right to speak.

Remember you are to be a “cheerleader.” Keep cheering even when they strike out, fall down or fail. You are the one who comes alongside and says, “It is going to be OK!” “God is on your side, and so am I.” “Don’t give up; be strong; keep going.” “You really are God’s best, and don’t you forget it. Remember you have to become who you are.” “God will love you and that will never, never, never change, no matter what.” Sounds like something God would say.

It might be a great time to say, “Group Hug!” It might be all the affirmation they need.

 

You need to expect and call the best out of your grandchildren.

 God will meet you at your level of expectancy.

Strive for a “Triple A” rating.

 

Your Commitment

I will commit to intentionally show affection, affirmation and attention to my grandchildren. These will become the outward evidences of my inward love and support. I will choose to build them up by honoring and praising them every opportunity I can.

 

Dr. Dan Erickson

Chief Servant Leader  |  People Matter Ministries

www.peoplematterministries.com

4 Ways Noncustodial Fathers Can Help Their Children Succeed in School

dad-at-school

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial… -James 1:12 (NASB)

It’s back to school time and that means schedules are in high gear and summer is now in the rearview (No!). As a non-custodial father myself, the upcoming school year always brings up a variety of emotions for me. Naturally there is excitement as my daughter ventures into a new grade and the new experiences that come along with it. Yet, there is usually a bit of anxiety that I need to lay down too. Due to a lack of communication between my daughter’s mother and me, every year I have to introduce myself to the teacher separately, tell him or her to please make sure I’m up to date on all class happenings, and even forewarn them of the possibility of separate conferences. Sure, it can be a pain; but rather than dwelling on the downers, let’s take a look at what ANY father can do to make sure his kids thrive throughout the school year.

Pray for them

Do the math: even in two parent homes our kids are usually in someone else’s care more than our own. As single fathers, that ratio may be even more lopsided. Ezekiel 22:30 says God is looking for a man to “stand in the gap” on behalf of others. A top priority of ours should be praying for our kids when they are away from us. Be specific: cover them in safety, blessing, schoolwork, friendships, decision-making, and so on. And of course, make sure you are praying with them every chance you get as well.

Stay involved

Numerous studies have shown that children whose fathers are actively engaged in their schooling are generally more confident and emotionally stable, deal with stress better, and do better overall academically and cognitively. I know our time with our kids may be limited, but play time is not (just) what we are called to do- leading and preparing our children for adulthood is. Use your time with your kids to get homework done first, then go play. If you don’t have access to homework, stay in the loop by reading with them, doing flash cards, and various educational workbooks or games. For older kids make sure you emphasize the importance of them staying on track with schoolwork and maybe even use the time together to do some research for a project. Whatever helps them to grow and spends quality time with their dad is a plus!

Go around if need be

Yes, peace with mom should always be a primary goal of ours (Rom 12:18) but may not always be possible. For me, it can be frustrating and redundant to have to repeat the steps I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Do your own homework and get on the school’s website or email the teacher directly to learn more information and stay updated. What I’ve found out is most of the time schools and teachers LOVE having dads involved!

Be at school events

This is an area so many dads miss out on- even married guys. As long as there are no outside factors inhibiting you (like a work schedule or some legality), then making it to your son’s or daughter’s games, concerts, conferences, and other events should be mandatory. Not only does this increase your physical presence in their life, but also the emotional. It shows them that you really care and once they are grown and look back on life, they will be able to say, “My dad was always there as much as he could be.” Stay on the lookout for other opportunities to see them too, like volunteering through the school or getting involved in great programs such as Watch D.O.G.S.

Look guys, I realize all of this may or may not apply to your particular situation, and I’m sure there are many other scenarios I did not cover. The point is we should make the strongest effort we can to stay involved and be encouraging in our children’s schooling. Steward to the best of your ability the things that are within your control- leave the rest to God. When you do, you not only fill your obligation as a godly dad, but develop strong character traits that help you grow in your own walk with Christ.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. –Jer 17:7 (NKJV)

 

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

Dad Talk: Stay Focused

focus

In the movie City Slickers, Curly resolutely holds up one finger and answers, “One thing” when Mitch asks him about the secret to life. “What’s the ‘one thing’?” he pleas. Curly says, “You have to figure that out.” In “The Power of Habit”, Charles Duhigg documents how when a person will focus on changing one habit, the impact on other areas can be phenomenal. One young lady in the study focused on her smoking habit. Her conviction that she had to give up smoking touched off a series of changes that would ultimately radiate out to every part of her life. She replaced smoking with jogging, and that, in turn, changed how she ate, worked, slept, saved money, scheduled her workdays, planned for the future and so on. She had found the ‘one thing’ that got her life back on track.

A while back a dad was struggling with relationships in the home, stress at work and general frustration with where he was at in life. He was challenged to systematically read the Bible – starting with the letters, then the gospels and then back to Genesis for a complete read through. There was no time line. The instructions were to commit at least 30 minutes each day to the reading of scripture, always opening in prayer for His Word to be revealed and closing in prayer with praise. He embraced the challenge. The daily readings took his prayer life to new levels. The increased depth of prayer generated a desire to journal. Journaling introduced a new dimension of praise and worship of the Lord in his life. He was compelled to do more in depth studies of particular books in the Bible after his first read through and his relationship with Jesus the Christ matured. As his relationship with Jesus matured, his relationships in the home were strengthened, stress at work was marginalized and life took on new meaning under the Father through the Son. The “one thing” for this dad was to change his habit of reading a lot of worldly stuff and focus on reading the Word of God. The impact on other areas of his life has been phenomenal.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2, NIV.

The charge is to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” The tomb is empty so our eyes must turn to the heavens. The action is to change ‘one thing’ that has kept our eyes on the worldly stuff.

Tips to Stay Focused:

  1. Read John 13:1-17 as a family and wash your wife’s feet;
  2. Read John 19 as a family and discuss accepting forgiveness of sin;
  3. Read John 20:1-17 as a family and discuss the power in the resurrection;
  4. Discern and act on ‘one thing’ that is inhibiting your relationship with Jesus.

Prayer guide: Lord, I confess my comfort in the worldly stuff. My eyes have drifted from You. I accept responsibility for the choices I have made and know that I need to make a change. Life balance has been elusive and it is time to focus on the priority of my relationship with You. Help me accept forgiveness through the cross, embrace the power of Your resurrection and enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as I initiate change You have put on my heart. Keep my eyes focused on You through this journey. Amen.

A faithful father stays focused on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

 

www.faithfulfathering.org

Ph:281.491.DADS/Fx:281.565.5365

‘Dad Talk’ © FFIT-2015

GIFU

Optimized-Victory-is-possible

An acronym is an abbreviation often formed from the first letters in a phrase. Some of the more popular ones are ASAP, FYI, LOL, and BTW. As Soon As Possible, For Your Information, Laugh Out Loud, and By The Way. Acronyms are more popular than ever, due to the increase in texting and messaging. I am proposing we create a new one today. GIFU. I have found this expression in scripture and believe it to be one of the predominant themes in the bible, and one of the most contested.

 

Elisha understood GIFU

“When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15-17)

 

Jesus never doubted that GIFU

“Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

 

David the worshiping, warrior, king knew GIFU

“He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” (Psalms 91:11) “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalms 139:17)

 

Paul was absolutely convinced GIFU

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Have you figured out what phrase is represented by this abbreviation? The words are found in this passage. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

 

John knew GIFU

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) GIFU, GOD IS FOR US. God is on our team. He loves us to pieces. He has our back, and our front. Nothing can separate us from His love. Amen.

 

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

 

Have a wonderful day marinating in the eternal truth that God is for us and God is for YOU!  -Steve

Steve Demme is a husband and father. He is the founder of Building Faith Families.

http://www.buildingfaithfamilies.org

25 Things To ALWAYS, AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE Say To Your Daughter

Hispanic father (20s) holding daughter (2 years) outdoors.  Shallow DOF, focus on father.

Last week may have felt a bit brutal with me giving you 25 things to never, ever, under any circumstances say to your daughter.

I couldn’t leave you hanging without a guide to lead you back to center court. So, in a similar fashion that uses as few words as possible, is straight forward and to the point, here are 25 things to always, under all circumstances, and as much as possible say to your daughter if you want to be a dailed-in dad.

Here’s a list of what TO say to your daughter:

  • What did I ever do to deserve such an incredible daughter like you?!
  • Do you know how grateful I am to be your dad?!
  • You look so beautiful today
  • You get prettier with each passing year
  • You’re right, I don’t understand you right now but I want to understand.Can you help me understand?
  • I’ll be here for you no matter what. Any time, day or night, I will do my best to be available. You can text or call me when I’m at work or out of town and I’ll figure out a way to respond as soon as I can
  • I want you to know that I enjoy you
  • You are going to make a great wife and mother some day (if you choose that)
  • I’ve seen so much growth in you (list specifics)
  • Tell me what you’re learning in school (or work)…I’d love to hear
  • What was good about your day today?
  • What was hard about your day today?
  • God broke the mold when He made you! You are one of a kind!
  • You are completely unique and gifted (list specifics)
  • I love you just the way you are
  • You could never disappointment me no matter what you do or don’t do because I love you unconditionally
  • What a treasure you are. Any guy who gets to date you (or eventually marry you) is a very lucky man
  • In my eyes, you are the best of the best
  • I am so proud of you
  • I like who you are
  • I love you
  • You are amazing!
  • I look forward to our dates where we get to spend time together, you and me
  • I’m sorry…will you forgive me?
  • I want you to know that no matter what, I will always be your main man.

In order to really dial in to your daughter’s heart space it’s going to require hard work and intention. And we all know that nothing worthwhile and valuable is ever easy. Hard work is required in business and this is all about bringing your best work ethic home.

Remember that your view of her, the one that is commuincated from your mouth to her ears, will be paramount to the view she carries about herself througout her life.

I encourage you today to carry this list in your pocket or on your phone and then choose to say one of these things daily to your daughter over the course of the next month.

Watch what happens in her as a result. Write and tell me about what takes place in her…and in you.

 

(You can reach me at michelle@theabbaproject.com)

25 Things to Never, Ever, Under Any Circumstance Say to Your Daughter

Dad scolding daughter

I’ve had the privilege over the last five and a half years of fine-tuning my understanding of men through The Abba Project (If you’re new to the conversation, this is the dads group I lead in Portland, OR).

As a result, I believe I’ve grown to understand and appreciate where you as dads are coming from. The truth is that I really enjoy hearing honestly from fathers about what it’s like to be in your shoes, especially as fathers to daughters.

Through my conversations, what I hear repeatedly from men is one of two responses:

  1. Tell it to me straight with as few words as possible (a.k.a. get to the point!)
  2. Tell me what to do to fix it.

In an attempt to prove that I, as a woman, can speak in a way that is straightforward with minimal verbiage, here is my bullet point list of some exact, specific things that you as a dad should never, ever, under any circumstance stay to your daughter. EVER.

 

Why?  Because what you say will echo in her head and heart for all eternity and she will never forget what you say about her, what you believe about her, what you see when you look at her, and what you tell her is true about her. (And sadly, I’ve heard many of these examples in real life).

So with as few words as possible, here’s a list of what NOT to say to your daughter:

  • You are one high maintenance girl
  • You have always been the most needy of all our kids
  • Why do you always make mountains out of molehills?
  • You look like you’ve gained weight (never give her a nickname that emphasizes her size)
  • You got yourself into this mess so don’t come running to me…you have no one to blame but yourself
  • Stop crying…You’re being a big baby
  • Do you know how utterly ridiculous and nonsensical you sound right now?
  • Pull yourself together and when you can talk rationally and clearly, then come talk to me
  • Go talk to your mother…She’ll understand you.
  • I gave up trying with you a long time ago
  • How on earth do you ever expect a man to want to be with you when you act like this?
  • You are wearing me out…I don’t know how much more of you I can take
  • You drive me crazy
  • When are you ever going to start acting your age?
  • You are a spoiled brat
  • I have no idea how you have any friends with the way you act…the real you comes out at home
  • You are a selfish b#%*…can’t you ever think of anyone but yourself?
  • In my house you will act the way I tell you to act
  • Shape up or ship out
  • Do you want a taste of your own medicine?

 

  • What did I ever do wrong to have to deal with a daughter like you?
  • You are a big disappointment to me
  • You are a disgrace to this family
  • God must regret having made you
  • Why can’t you be more like your brother/sister?

 

I know we’re all human and say things we don’t mean. If you’ve ever said any of these things, go today and make amends with your daughter. It’s never too late to make things right.

You may think that she’s forgotten what you said because it was a long time ago. I assure you she hasn’t. Humble yourself, go now, and ask forgiveness. It will release both of you.

Let today be the day where the words you speak to her from this day forward are only life-breathing and not akin to anything in the above list.

And for the record, this is the first time you’ve heard me say that failing to say or do something means that you’re at the top of the class!

(Stay tuned for the counter position titled: “25 Things to ALWAYS Say To Your Daughter”)

 

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 http://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.

A Greatness That Descends

Real Men Follow Jesus

We were in the middle of a Sunday evening service when a drunk stumbled into the church. My dad was leading worship. The man staggered all the way down the aisle until he literally fell on his knees at the altar.

My dad immediately turned the service over to my mom, walked across to the desperate man, and knelt down beside him. As my dad put his arm around the man and prayed for him, the man began to weep.  As my dad entered into his pain, despair, and suffering, he was able to lead the man to Jesus Christ.  A few years later he would become one of his deacons.

From where I sat observing, I saw only a smelly, nasty drunk. But my dad saw a man without a shepherd, felt compassion for him, and entered into his pain. (Mk 6:34)

Your Love + Your Humility + Your Service = True Servanthood

Looking back, I now know what I saw at that altar years ago: greatness descending. You will never be as great as when you are descending, becoming a servant. If we are going to become truly great we have to have a greatness that is willing to descend with an attitude of true humility.

Paul wrote to the Philippians about the attitude of true servanthood. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Phil. 2:5–7)

The kind of servanthood that Christ—and my dad —demonstrated was countercultural. Descending is normally reserved for losers, cowards, failures, and the weak. Our society tells us to avoid this at all costs. Ascending is reserved for winners, heroes, the successful, the strong, and the proud. Choosing to serve others is weak!

There is a contradiction between the culture’s view and God’s view. The culture says, rise to the highest level of your company, rake in a lot of money, succeed at what does not matter and you will be called great. The only direction is up!

God’s view is the true way to eternal success: True greatness is not a measure of self-will or self-achievement but rather self-abandonment. The more you are willing to give up, the more you truly gain. Succeeding at what really matter is choosing to become a servant.

Just before the Last Supper, In John 13 Jesus demonstrated true love, humility, and servanthood to His disciples by washing their feet. He closed with this statement:

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:13–17)

This demonstration by Jesus was not just about washing feet. It was about love, humility, and service. The role of the servant is not only the best way to live, but the only way to live. When you begin to practice servanthood, you live the way of the cross. You become a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable in God’s sight.

Servanthood is about position that is worked out after love and humility are worked in. It is how we seek to live out our potential and our destiny. When we demonstrate unconditional love, unapologetic humility, and uncompromising servanthood, we will live a life that will descend into true greatness.

Are you willing to lose it all in order to gain it all? Are you willing to descend in order to ascend? Moving down is the only way to become great in God’s eyes, and nothing else matters. It is not the best path to greatness; it is the only path to true and eternal greatness. It is only then you can imagine His possibilities!

By Dr. Dan Erickson, Chief Servant Leader, People Matter Ministries