Last night I joined with about 20 men of different ages from our church and went and watched Sherwood Pictures’ new movie, “Courageous.” I know, I’m well over a week late (not counting the previews) and there have been many, many reviews and observations shared in recent days about this tremendously popular and powerful film. But, I’ve never been one to jump on the bus with everybody else, no matter what the denominational program or latest Christian craze. In fact, as a pastor I normally don’t do – or lead my church to do – what everybody else is doing. I know that may be a character flaw or mean that some great opportunities are missed, but I was raised in “church world” and so there is an inherent resistance, and just to be honest, a suspicion when everybody else is jumping in and getting caught up in the latest religious fad.
With that said, last night’s trip to the movies has impacted me more that I ever would have imagined. While I sat watching the movie with these men from Temple Baptist Church there were several thoughts that kept going through my mind. First, this is more than just a movie, it is a message – to men. Second, I’m thankful that I’m getting to watch this film while my children are still very young. That way some of the lessons that I’m learning and some of the things that God is burning into my heart will have the opportunity to be put into practice while there is still time for them to make a difference in the lives of my two children.
Now, I know that on Fridays I normally write about issues related to living life together as a Christian family. I realize that it may seem that I have it all together (or at least a lot of it figured out), but I must confess that I am far from perfect or even close to what I believe that my Heavenly Father has called me to be as the father to my children or husband to my wife. If you don’t believe me, just ask my family.
However, last night my Father spoke very clearly to me and as a result I want to be more and more like Him and less like me. My children and my wife deserve no less. It’s time for me to live up the command that the Lord gave to Joshua when He said, “Be strong and courageous.” You see, I believe that in this dark, dangerous, dirty world there is a greater need for men of spiritual strength and Godly courage than ever before. I resolve to be such a man for my family.
So, I just want to share some thoughts that I have in my heart on how I can be a man of strength and courage for my family. I know that Dr. Catt and his team have put together a great resolution, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. It is a powerful, Biblical and encompassing statement of the responsibilities and priorities that each man should acknowledge and resolve to give themselves to meeting and exceeding for their family. But, I’m not men, I’m Brad. And the responsibility for my family belongs to nobody else but me. So, these are simply some personal thoughts my Father has burned my heart and I wanted to write them down and put them out there as a way of personal accountability.
How can I be the daddy that my Heavenly Daddy wants me to be?
I must love my Heavenly Father first and foremost. I can’t love my family the way that I should if I don’t love Him the way that I ought. He is to have the preeminent place of love and adoration in my life. It is only when I love Him most that I can love my family best.
I must love my wife more than any other person on the planet – even more than my children. I realize that the greatest gift that I can give to my children, other than teaching them about and leading them to Jesus, is the picture of a daddy who loves their mommy more than anything or anybody else in this world. This will not only give an example of what their own marriage ought to be like one day, but illustrate for them how Jesus loves His bride – the Church.
I must give both quality and quantity time to my children. To a child, there really isn’t a difference. You can’t have quality without quantity and you can’t have quantity without quality. They need – no, they deserve – lots and lots of time with my undivided, undistracted attention.
I must love them enough to discipline. My Heavenly Father loves me enough to discipline me, so why should I love my children any less? On a practical note, one thing that has been running through my mind in recent days is that when I discipline I must never beat down, but rather lift up. This means that the words that I use, the spankings that I give, the correction that I employee must not break their spirit, but build them up and help them to learn how to control their feelings, emotions and impulses.
I must earn the right for them to share their heart with me. I can only do this by keeping my word to them and keeping their words to myself. I must guard their young hearts. They must feel safe and confident that I will listen, love them unconditionally and do that which is best to help them become the young lady and young man that God has created them to be.
I must be their first and greatest teacher. My wife is a gifted and trained teacher, and since we home school there are many things that she will teach that I can not or will not be a part of teaching. However, there are some things that can only be taught by a daddy. Nobody can really replace me and I can’t pay somebody else or delegate this great privilege and responsibility in the lives of my children.
I must be a worthy role model. To my children I’m going to be a role model. So, the question isn’t if, but what kind of role model will I be? I want to be a role model that will help shape their young lives according to the pattern and precepts of God’s Word.
I must make Family Time a priority. Suppers together at the kitchen table, evenings spent reading to and with my children, days spent playing and spending time with Kim and the kids will be scheduled and jealousy guarded. After all, my most important earthly relationships are with those people that live under my roof.
I must give lots and lots and lots of hugs and kisses. Affection will not be scarce at the Whitt house. I’d rather them think that I’m too mushy and huggy and kissy than to think that I don’t love them. I don’t want my children looking somewhere else for love and affection. They will find all they want and need at home.
I must realize that my job as daddy will never be done. I tell LK and Jack all the time, normally when I’m tucking them in bed at night, that they can sit in my lap anytime they want to – even when they are all grown up. Being a daddy isn’t a job that is complete when they turn 18, move off to college or get married. Sure, there are transitions and with each transition that will take place in their life there are strings that will be cut, responsibilities that will be released and assumed, but there is one thing that will never change – I will always be LK and Jack’s daddy.
There is not a harder, more important or meaningful job in the world than being a daddy. It’s definitely not for the weak or wimpy. That’s why it will take men of spiritual strength and Godly courage, and I am trusting my Heavenly Father to help me, and enable me, to follow Him and be the daddy that my children deserve.