Preaching to the choir… of men.
As of the posting of these words, I will have aged into 3 decades of existence on this quaint little blue orb we endearingly call Earth, hurling around the galaxy at approximately 67,000 miles-per-hour around our sun. It’s all relative. First paragraph in, and I’ve already digressed spectacularly.
I was asked by my wife, Sharon, to write for The Grace Haven, something I might share with other men. I’ve been told I do okay at being a husband and father to our girls. Naturally, I question my own authority to speak on matters of fatherhood and marriage, as well as raised an eyebrow to being given a writing assignment as a birthday present. (Thank you, Sharon.)
Sarcasm and wit aside, please allow me to humble myself in being the first to admit I fail often, and have many flaws.
Many people struggle in the spaces of maintaining a healthy marriage, parenting with a purpose, and keeping God at the center of their lives.
Having discredited myself, let me now lecture on how I believe men need to prioritize and align their lives. What distinguishes a Man, among men.
A man is gentle, affectionate, and thankful.
I swear, I’m not being coerced into saying this, but my wife is the most amazing woman in the world. She really is! And I voluntarily lift her up, daily. She maintains our home, raises our girls in a Christ-filled environment, and is always purposeful with her time.
Men, in most cases (not all), your wife spends more time with your children than you do. That’s fine! You’re working hard to support the family. Bring home that bacon! (Figuratively, and literally. Do some of some of the shopping. Grocers have developed a broad selection of locally crafted beers and… I digress again.)
Appreciate her and thank her. The best thing you can do for your family is be supportive. A “Thank you” for how she has spent her day takes minimal effort on your end.
A man nurtures his marriage more than he nurtures his children.
To be clear: nurture your children!
But to the point I want to make, it is critical to nurture your marriage FIRST. To some, this may be the unpopular or “wrong” opinion. You, or your wife, may feel like your life’s mission and meaning revolves around your children.
First, check yourself and reconsider where you have placed Christ in this hierarchy. Preferably up top. Just a thought from a lowly sinner.
But never neglect your significant other in favor of your children. It is crucial to pour into your children, but if you neglect your spouse, this creates room for resentment to breed. If resentment takes hold, it grows distance and hurt.
Statistically, I know it’s something to the number of 50+% of marriages today end in divorce. Divorced dads: you’re not off the hook.
Please set any hostile feelings towards your ex-spouse aside when I say: divorce is always tragic, and rough on children. Speaking down to or discrediting her does not do you any favors. Even if separated, be a united front.
A man is present and attentive.
It is 2019. Everyone has a smartphone. The entire body of all recorded knowledge in our pocket. We don’t even need fingers anymore, as we can merely vocalize our requests, and our ever vigilant digital assistant is listening and pleased to respond to our request.
“More videos of cats!”
Don’t mishear me: technology is a gift from God, and it is good.
As applies to many: too much of anything, even good things, can be hazardous. That is our addictive nature.
Many of us have grown to use our technological tools frequently. So often, in fact, that we can catch ourselves staring into our hand-held screens more than we see the eyes of our loved ones sitting at the same dinner table.
The urge to check one’s phone for messages and notifications trumps the desire to remain engaged to the person standing before you, spilling out the contents of their heart.
Gentlemen, ask yourself a question:
Do you make more eye contact, or screen contact?
Consider that this answer doesn’t affect just you, but the little eyes of your children who learn by modeling your behavior.
Do you think your children are under YOUR constant supervision? Surprise! You are under your CHILDREN’S constant supervision – and they model their behavior exactly as you do. How do you spend your time in their presence?
Often at schools, children are asked to draw a picture of their family. Would you believe me that this project often yields a result where the child has drawn a picture of at least one of their parents holding or using a phone? What does that illustrate their perception has become?
Do your kids a favor: put away the phone and spend time with them. If you expect them to value you more than their handheld devices, you need to set that example.
A man isn’t talk: he is action.
More is caught than taught: meaning children learn from watching your actions. Don’t waste your breath lecturing to anyone how they should behave, if what you instruct them against is what you do, yourself. A man isn’t a hypocrite.
“You spend too much time watching TV. You should go play outside!”
A man joins his children at play. You set the example. Telling anyone what they should do has no effect (except for me right now: keep reading my delicious words).
Being a man to your children doesn’t mean acting overly dignified or machismo. If you fathered girls, get ready to have tea parties.
Men, be the man you want your son to grow up to be, and the man you want your daughter to marry.
Lead by doing, and lead by SERVING. Children and wives do not exist to make you look good or make you happy.
Men seek for their kids to carry on Christ’s legacy, not your own.
How? Well, it’s a process not a destination. Here is a great place to start.
“Dear God, please help me to be the man I need to be:
to glorify you daily with my thoughts and actions,
to my wife you blessed me with,
and to the children you’ve blessed me with and trusted in my care.
I trust that you will always provide for us our daily bread.
Guide me and use me, my life is Yours alone.”
This isn’t about guilt. It is about goals.
Live with intention, and be a man.