Strong families and strong churches have strong dads. How can you and I be strong dads? God wants us to be – Authentic & Available!
1st Thess 2:12 says, “We are to live lives worthy of God.” This is lived out in your every day life. Your wife, children, coworkers and friends have video camera eyes and audio tape recording ears. They see and hear EVERYTHING. Authentic means you are the same on the outside as you are on the inside. There are many ways to be authentic. Here are two of them:
1. Walk Your Talk: An authentic man wouldn’t state, “I’m a Christian,” and then act in a way that belies that statement. An example would be – a man tells his children not to tell lies but then gets a phone call at home from someone he doesn’t want to talk to, so he whisper to one of his kids, “Tell them I’m not in and won’t be back for three days.”
Or, he peaceably attends church service but when he comes home he uses anger to get his way with a family member. Is that walking the talk? At work he wears a WWJD bracelet and then goes home with some stolen office supplies. Or what do you think his coworkers think about him when he laughs at dirty jokes right after telling them about the church revival he attended the night before? Our actions set an example for how our kids – our spouse – our coworkers – will view God.
We should strive to be authentic, but when we fall short we should also be willing to admit when we’ve blown it. They already know we’ve blown it. Hey, they live with us. Not hard to spot. We need to apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness. We’re teaching them that when they make a mistake it’s not the end of their world, but that they can admit it and grow from it.
2. Keep Your Promises
If you promise your kids or spouse something, KEEP IT. Be consistent with your promises. The number one resentment with kids is the broken promises of their parents. To a child, “Probably, perhaps and maybe” means YES. Only mention out loud what you can follow through on.
One of the biggest areas that we often disappoint our family is with our time schedule. To enable you to keep your promises make appointments with loved ones non-negotiable commitments. Put them on your calendar first and then schedule other things around them. By doing that they learn to trust that you’re a man of your word, otherwise you won’t spend the quality time with them you should.
A man needs to be available to his family and God. Here are two ways to do that:
1. To Family
Too often as men we focus on being a success at work and then don’t have any availability with our time or energy for our children and wife. Or when we are with them we sometimes make them feel like we can only spend time with them during the commercials. The message we’re giving them is that they aren’t a priority.
I am aware this is a constant balancing act for us men. For too many years I didn’t balance it well and made my family feel they were infringing on my time frames – that I had more important things to do. Fortunately God woke me up before I lost everything. Here are a few things I implemented into my life —
- Live in the now. When you spend time with the family – “be there.” That means not just physically being there, but also emotionally. Actually be involved in whatever you’re doing and not focused on what you think you’d rather be doing.
- Plan regularly scheduled family nights. It could be a once-a-week fun night where each family member gets to pick what the family will do that night.
- Date your mate on a regular basis. You need to have face-to-face time with one another. It’s a special time to have fun and stay connected. It helps, too, if you do the planning and get the baby sitter.
- Date your children. One child at a time. An exclusive time with dad – hiking – zoo – park – getting ice cream. Make sure it’s a time you can talk. When your child knows they can have your full attention they will often share their deepest thoughts with you.
- Daily practice good listening. To get your family to talk to you they first need to know if you’re willing to listen to them. And to be a better listener get rid of distractions. Turn off the TV. Get away from the computer so you can focus on the person and the conversation you’re going to have. Listen without interrupting or changing the subject. Maintain eye contact. Eye contact sends a powerful message to them that what they’re saying is important. Plus it also lets you watch their body language, which tells you what they’re really trying to say.
2. To God
Are you willing to be used daily by God to make a difference in the lives of others? God wants available men who have a heart full of trust and faith and will be obedient to what God shows them. Especially in our families where God has called us to be the spiritual leaders. A couple of suggestions on how to make this a reality:
- Lead your family into a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. This needs to be our #1 priority. Since more things are “caught not taught,” you model this by you having a growing daily relationship with Jesus Christ as your Lord (Matthew 22:37). We need to take time to study the Bible so we can know God and know His will for our lives. Through the Word of God and talking with God through prayer, God works on the inner man so we can become a man after God’s own heart. As your family sees you growing and changing it will help them understand what a relationship with our Lord is all about.
- Pray for and with your wife and children. When praying for your children, bless them in the name of Jesus. Implements the Three A’s of Prayer, meaning, we all can pray Anytime – Anywhere – and about Anything.
- Lead family devotions. You can easily find lots of material in your local Christian bookstore. Two rules to remember for family devotions: Keep them short and fun.
In closing – men must walk the talk. Nothing more – nothing less – nothing else! Be all you can be for Christ, and watch Christ do all He can through you.