In the church-staff world, Fridays were usually a family day, as Sunday was pretty consumed with work at the church, especially during my years leading a MultiSite Campus. So, I thought I would focus my blog posts on many Fridays to family issues.
Today I will start with navigating the DadLife. I am not an expert, and my children are still young. But I have always asked Dads of seemingly balanced and responsible children to tell me one thing they did to be a successful father. I am still working on these actions of fatherhood, but I figured I would share the journey. So here are 5 Ongoing Strategies to Living the DadLife:
1. First, Seek to Be a Great Husband… No surprise here, its hard to be a great dad if you are not a great husband first. I have been blessed with a highly intuitive daughter. She is a people and situation reader and any misalignment in mine and Kelly’s relationship is immediately exploited. This goes beyond asking me the same question she just asked mom. MJ can immediately sense when Kelly & I disagree even if we have not said a word, and sides with one of us, usually me, to work against the other. So being in tight alignment together, prioritizing each other’s needs and interests (over our own… and especially over the kids!) and just taking the time to communicate about things that matter with your wife will immediately show results in your fatherhood.
2. Affirm Each Child’s Uniqueness… I try to daily affirm my children, even at this young age. I talk to my daughter all the time about how God will use her to help others because she is so people savvy. And I affirm my son’s courageous and natural instincts to run to the action, not away. I have never seen, or felt for that matter, the first response toward something startling like I do in my son. I also speak words of life at the same time, John Eldredge wrote a small book called “You Have What it Takes” and that challenged me to daily tell my daughter she is beautiful and daily tell my son that I believe in him.
3. Start Meaningful Traditions… This has been easier with my daughter since she is in grade school, but I try to do something out of the ordinary with the kids on a regular basis. This means that every Friday I am in town, I will take MJ to school and we will go get breakfast first. Every Friday. She usually gets to pick where, and this is just an opportunity to be with her, ask her about what she hopes for -or fears- and generally give her uninterrupted time with me. We also have a dress-up date every year on the night before school starts – one of the only reasons I will ear a tie – and we mark the eve of another milestone. I cannot hardly bear thinking about one day when our last dress-up date will be the night before her wedding… until then I am going to make the most of these moments!
4. Be A Lifelong Learner… There are some great resources and tools out there for those of us living the #dadlife. All Pro Dad is one of my favorites because I get an email every day that has practical, applicable tips on being a better father. I also ask great dads questions like “what did they do when… ” etc. Lastly, I have learned to be around other dads that encourage me to be better. I am not suggesting that you circle up, share your feelings about fatherhood and quilt an affirmation blanket or anything, but I have found that when I hang out with guys that are striving to be a better father and husband, I naturally strive to be a better father and husband.
5. Leave An Inheritance… This is not monetary. Leave a spiritual inheritance. Your children should sit around after you are gone (maybe just moved, not necessarily dead – those blogs are saved for Mondays) and struggle with how to divide the rich history of living in Christlikeness that you have left them. They should try to imagine how they will spend their time serving others and making an impact that matters for eternity, because you bankrolled their spirits and stockpiled the love of Christ in their hearts. The day I had the honor to baptize my daughter was the day I realized that is what really mattered in ministry. In fact, I told the church, that as a pastor, this is the true measure of the success of my ministry calling – that my child would follow Christ as well. Kelly & I recently started regular family devotional times, and its not the greatest, most meaningful time… yet. The boy doesn’t care much for sitting still and answering questions, but I know that we can start now and it will be something special in a few years.
There you have it, you can do every one of these today, or just pick one. Either way, enjoy the ride.