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

 

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