Reflections on What Being a Father Means to Me

I found out my wife was pregnant almost 16 years ago. I can still remember the thoughts that were running through my head. Immediately I began to think about the fact that I was no longer responsible just for myself – I would have to care for this new life. What would that look like?

Nothing can prepare a new father for the moment his first child enters the world. I thought I was prepared, with everything planned out. What I was not prepared for was the emotion of it all as I witnessed our first daughter being born. It felt as if I were overcome by every emotion known to mankind.

We go through so many firsts as fathers.  First child, first words, first day of school, first date (not looking forward to this one), first day of driving lessons, first graduation, first day at college, and eventually – first daughter to get married. And the list goes on. It doesn’t get easier, but it is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling beyond measure.

With Father’s Day once again upon us, here are a few reflections on being a father:

1. Parenthood requires trust in God.

You hear all the time as a new parent that you will never be fully prepared. And that’s likely true. But as I have grown – we now have three daughters and one son – I have learned that part of being a father is simply putting all your trust in our Heavenly Father. Trusting Him for the strength and wisdom needed to be the father my children need me to be.

2. God has uniquely gifted me to be a father to my children.

I can tend to look around and see how other dads do it and think, “I can’t be like that” or “I wish I could do that for my child.” But the reality is that God has uniquely chosen me to be the father of my children!  That is a really cool thought.

On top of that, He has given me everything I need to be the best father for my children, including providing a great example as my Heavenly Father. From the example of how Christ leads His Church, I have learned that my children need my leadership as the head of my house, a role that falls squarely on my shoulders.  And in my inadequacies, I have learned that I can do nothing apart from my Heavenly Father (John 15:5), including leading my home.

3. God has given me an incredible responsibility to share the Gospel with and disciple my children – then He takes it from there.

Our two older daughters recently went to our church’s youth camp. This is the first time our second daughter has gone on this trip, and because she struggles with anxiety, she was unsure how this experience would wear on her. She was anxious about being anxious. So, we sat down and prayed for her time at camp. I shared with her a passage that my dad would always encourage me with when I was scared:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace with be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).

We agreed that when she was anxious this week, she would find this passage and think about things that are right, good, true, pure, and noble rather than her anxious thoughts. She returned from camp last week and was excited to tell me “what God did”!

She had forgotten the passage we talked about before she left. But God provided. As she laid her head down on her pillow the first night, she looked up, and on the bottom of the bunk above her head, someone had written Philippians 4:8-9. God is so good! He takes care of our needs. As an earthly dad who did what I could to prepare my child, it’s comforting to know that our Heavenly Father still picks up the slack!

Being a father is not easy, but I am thankful that I have an earthly father who modeled fatherhood for me. And I have a Heavenly Father who is there to hold my hand daily and guide me through life, including helping me with so many firsts as a father to my four children.

Happy Father’s Day!

NOTE: I wrote this blog for my work site last year and decided to share here this year

Waiting for Jesus to Heal me

Recently I had a friend ask me if I would be able to wait for Jesus to heal me if I knew my only reason for being blind was to be healed.

1. As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3. Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.  John 9:1-3

Think about this. Blind his whole life so that the works of God might be displayed in him. The passage goes on to talk about how this man shared what happened to him with everyone he saw. If I had been blind my whole life, I am sure I would do the same. The excitement would be so hard to contain!

What does this blindness look like for you? We can be so caught up in our worries and struggles that we miss out on the blessings right in front of us. God requires us to trust him even in our blindness.

I wonder how this blind man carried on each day? Was he hopeful that he might see one day? I do not know. However, I love that when he was healed he did not keep it a secret. He shared with all that he was blind and now he can see. He testified to the work of Jesus in his life. That the works of God might be displayed in him!

Do we do that? What struggles or blessings in your life are you are afraid to share with others? I have found the more I think I am alone in a struggle, the more I keep it to myself. Only the opposite is true. The more opportunities I have to share these struggles with close friends, the more I realize we are all very similar.

And more importantly…  When God works in your life in a mighty way… What a powerful way to encourage others in their struggles.

Do we have the patience to wait on Jesus to heal us simply for the purpose of showing His power to others?  And do we have the courage to then share this story with others, or all we meet?

 

People Pleasing is Exhausting

You have heard it before… I am sure.  “I am a people pleaser.”  What does that really mean?  It is good to make sure others around you feel loved and have their needs met, right?

I have always been and always will be a people pleaser.

The tension that exists inside of me is always working to please the different people in my life. You would think this would be a good thing….Happy wife, kids, boss, etc… Except we all know you cannot please everyone all the time. Unfortunately, that does not stop me from trying.

It is almost as if I cant control it!

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please
men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians
1:10)

Recently this has been a big deal as it relates to the work God is doing in my life. He is giving more responsibilities at work and at home. The tension inside of me to please everyone has grown to a point where I cannot seem to manage it anymore and it is incredibly exhausting. Sometimes I look up and think, what am I doing? The activity I am involved in seems to be disconnected and not tied back to the purpose of my work/life.

I have begun to realize that this type of activity creates a situation where I run from one duty to the next without going deep and being intentional on the things that matter most. It also hi-jacks good work.  Running from one activity to the next to please someone else never really allows me to focus on what is important for the appropriate amount of time.

This is true in my professional life and my personal life. Creating the margin to go deep in my professional and spiritual growth inevitably means I am going to have to say no to someone’s request of me. Creating those boundaries have been so healthy for me, but I still worry WAY TOO MUCH about having to say no to someone.

Something that has helped is my understanding that God has uniquely equipped me to do only what He has called me to do. I have to answer to Him only. This does not mean I can ignore my boss or my wife. However, the cool part, I am realizing that I strive to please my Heavenly Father…  Most of the important people in my life will be happy too.

This is a daily struggle that I am committed to leaning into and not ignoring.

The great part about the verse in Galatians (above) is that if I am serving only men, my focus is off and I cannot be a servant of Christ.

I will struggle with pleasing people the rest of my life. I am thankful that God will use me daily to glorify Him, and that the people pleaser in me can be redeemed for His Glory.

The Harder, The Better

I have always been one to take the easy road. I do not like to work hard. Of course, I have worked hard, but doing it on my own has not come easy. I mean, I know we all struggle with discipline, but that is just not something I do well on my own.

A while back, I read Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker.  One thing that made an impact on me was, “The Harder, The Better.” He talked about he hike he took along the Inca Trail to reach Machu Pichu. Over 30 miles and four days later, but there was so much reward in seeing the journey the way the Inca’s did. Many blessings in the journey!

You have heard it before, “it is not about the destination, but about the journey.”

I have a sign that hangs above my desk, “MAKE IT HAPPEN!” I have had that sign hanging there for 10+ years. I have taken it with me from job to job. I have always prided myself on being a Make it Happen kind of guy. The truth is I have never really applied myself in a way that requires me to take the road that is hard.

There is always enough opportunity around to Make it Happen!

What would it look like if I applied myself in a way that was Harder? Is it really better?

We live in a time when we want it all NOW. Twitter, Facebook, K-Cups, …. What if we were a little more patient with each other focused on the big picture instead of the immediate?

Is there a worry among leadership that if their organizations do not see results right away, maybe their people are lazy?

It is a great reminder that only God can bring the increase or the rain, or He is the only one who really knows our purpose. We just need to be ready.

Harder is better….

Repentance = Sweetness

I heard it said recently by the Benham Brothers that their ordeal has put them in a unique spot to share God’s truths, but this would not be the case if they were not repentant in their own lives.

I think this is so important to understand. We are so quick to point out the problems in our neighbors lives that we totally miss the point. It is repentance in our own lives that leads to a relationship with God that allows us to see our lives and our neighbor’s lives through God’s eyes.

Repentance creates a level of humility that only comes from God. It is when we have this humility in our lives, we can speak boldly about God’s truths.

I think the tendency in our culture and our Christian culture especially is to skip this part and move right to talking about God’s truths. It is because we are not being real in our lives that our message comes across as false, harsh, or just plain judgmental.

This fascinates me because you know when someone is being fake with you or if they are being sincere. God calls us to put on the dressings of Christ and live a life that allows us to reflect His Glory and share His Love with all those we come in contact with. We can not simply do this because we decide to one day. This is something that is cultivated over
time and through a personal relationship with Christ. And through a repentant heart that allows us to see others the way Christ does.

Repentance requires you to lean into the pain of the issues/problems you might be facing, but let me tell you from my own personal experiences. It is incredibly freeing and life giving to walk through those painful steps.

While very hard, the sweetness on the back end of repentance and forgiveness is sweeter than anything you have every tasted in your life.

It propels… or compels you to share Christs love and forgiveness with all you come across.