Getting out of God’s way

As a man, I can tell you that I have made so many mistakes and stupid decisions because I kept jerking the wheel when God is driving. I don’t know about you, but I have a false sense of security when I am behind the wheel. Ask my family what makes me nervous and they will tell you “other people’s driving”. I feel as if I have to be in control. I feel that somehow, I can prevent bad things from happening. I actually relax. If you think about it, it’s a really stupid concept, much like the idea that an inch and a half, to two inches of wood (the average front door), keeps us safe from all the bad people out there.

Most men are not very trusting creatures, by their actions. What we say may be totally different, but …umm…no. Obviously we must use discernment in our daily activities and judgments. However, a good dose of faith and trust can empower us in ways that can go beyond reason. As a professing Christian, I know what the bible says about worry. I am aware of the promises that are in the scriptures. This doesn’t mean that my knee jerk reaction is to trust, regardless of how many times the evidence has been there that I should. Now, add my kids into the mix, and I can become even more controlling, or feel as if I should. It takes a constant effort to trust them and God, get out of the way. I think too many times that I have the answers.

I have heard so many times in my life the phrase, “don’t dwell on your past”. Well, maybe I shouldn’t dwell, but I should be mindful. I’m not always right, and history proves it. Now, as a dad of adults, I hear the voice in my head that says, “are you sure you need to say that?” “Don’t give advice at this time.” “Just express your support and love.” This is not that we should live our lives in neutral or be complacent on every subject. Some times, your kids, even when they are grown, need for you to be the immovable rock, as I have discussed in other posts.

We have to realize that we are dad until we die. That does not change. It is a lifelong journey of love, support, and guidance. The key is to know when to speak and act. This is where faith comes in. If I accept the reality of God, then I believe he knows more than I do. As a believer, I want God to be pleased with me. That being said, I believe that he knows what best for my children. I believe that he guides them. Many times that involves me. However, there are times that I need to let go and trust. It is in these times that I have a tendency to screw things up if I don’t get out of the way. In my family, we relate a lot to soccer. If you have ever played the game, you are aware that the referee has to be mindful of his place on the field. Although he is in charge, he can get in the way. He can even impact the game in a very unfair manner.

If we get in the way, we can prevent our kids from taking that “shot”. We can prevent goals and victories. Even if we are not on the field, we can pressure them from the sidelines of life. Sometimes we want success for them that we add pressure. This can frustrate them, cause them to make errors, and cost them a potentially great performance. That is right. Being a dad is tough. Barking out commands and orders may make us feel more secure, much like my driving analysis. However, allowing God to work in our children’s lives, developing a trust relationship, and letting them work it out can be empowering for them. So what do you do? How do you find that balance? Your walk with God must be a daily journey. That relationship must be a priority. Then you can be an example to your kids and cultivate your relationship with them. If you don’t, you will always be grabbing the wheel. You will referee poorly. Finally, you will see a building frustration no matter how much you truly want to help them.

So is it really that simple? In concept, yes. Execution can be extremely difficult. My advice is to read God’s word. Read other books. Listen to wise counsel and learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. You don’t have to be caught in a mindset and cycle of behavior that so many fathers have found themselves in. You don’t have an infinite amount of chances to get it right. How many chances will you get? I don’t know. I have seen many a father screw up enough times or for such a duration that recovery was unlikely.

Does this mean that I have all the answers? Ask my family and they will verify that I do not. However, I am committed to learning, listening, and trying not to repeat my mistakes. Perhaps that is a start. What I want is to trust God and quit trying to control everything. I was my relationship with my adult children to continue to grow and strengthen. Sometimes, this means words and actions. Sometimes, it just means to love and support them. Being a dad is such an important job. It’s important that I keep learning, and that I am the best dad possible. 

Deacon

Teaching Kids about Prayer

Having a child that is reverent is a blessing. No matter what your upbringing or background, I would argue that a child who prays is a positive thing. I am a Christian. To me and my family, prayer has been a source of strength, peace, and growth. I realize that various readers have a wide range of beliefs. If you are not religious or a professing believer, thank you for being a part of this blog and being open-minded to keep reading. I do think that it is important that writers not only give resources to their readers but also a “personal” message to people.

The older I get, the less I think I have to prove myself to others. I hope that this allows for an honest heart that wants to help people, instead of some authority that people should listen to. That being said, I have a heart for fathers and kids. I pray for my children regularly and have always emphasized to them the importance of prayer. 

I believe that we are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. Prayer, therefore, is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. We teach our children to eat right and get exercise. We encourage them to pursue positive and encouraging relationships. These things are many times within our control, but requiring discipline to maintain. So what do we do about those things that are beyond us? Supernatural means that which is beyond nature. I attribute these things to God. I believe in a creator. We can discuss or debate this, but for me and my family, we acknowledge the sovereignty of a God that knows us, loves us, disciplines us, and is ultimately in control.

When my kids were little, this belief gave them a real source of comfort. Prayers, especially before bedtime became their desire. They would pray about the most amazing things. They expressed their compassion for others and a sense of thankfulness for what they had. It was beautiful. It blessed me just as much as it did them. I am so thankful to have been a part of it. I hope that one day, I will be able to hear the prayers of grandchildren. It all starts with a practice knowing that they can tell God anything. It instills a grateful and compassionate heart. That quality in a child is a wonderful thing. 

As they grow older, their perception of God will grow with reading and asking of questions. This is where you as a dad need to be the best example to them. Because of their trust in you as the dad, many kids will adopt your belief system. Does this mean that you are responsible? Yes. God gave these children to you and expects you to be the example of truth. Through their spiritual growth, they will want to know how and why things work as they do. They will want to know what God wants in their lives. Let me give you two things to remember. Read and listen.

Perhaps you have given or received the comment that says, “you can’t learn if you are talking”. I encourage my kids to read the bible and to make listening a part of their prayer life. In Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 it says, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” So what do they listen to? God speaks to us when we read his word, and through the words of others. This is where I would refer you back to my blog on discernment. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Prayer and discernment will help them filter the good vs. bad advice.

My wife and I taught our kids that prayer is an opportunity more than an obligation. Both our children as well as ourselves have been blessed by prayer and doing it together. We have seen God work in our lives, in those of our children, in addition to the relationship that we share. It has been a bond between us and has strengthened the family tie. We realize that there are those with differing faiths. However, we can only hold to what we know to be the truth and our experiences with it. 

As our kids develop, they will have needs. It is our job as dads to address these needs. The knowledge and practice begin with us. As in many situations, it is our job as dads to have our act together, before we address others. Although your spiritual growth is a life long process, the foundation must be laid, and it needs to start with you. Your kids are looking for answers. They want to be able to trust dad. Therefore, it is so important that we work on ourselves to continually give them the best guidance. Read, pray, and share. Be the best dad possible.

Deacon