I was not ready to be a father. (Not like anyone really is. . .) So when we had a daughter then a son and another daughter I knew that I was in the deep end of the pool. So I started doing all that I could to learn about what it meant to be the best father that I possibly could be. I read books, I watched videos, I talked with other fathers with grown children and usually I would ask, “Do you have any children that are in prison?” If they answered no then I would spend time asking them questions about how and what they did as a father. Ultimately it lead me to the parenting statement that my wife and I would use as our goal for our kids, “We wanted them to leave well.” That would mean that when we were going to make decisions about different areas of life. We would ask ourselves, “Is this going to prepare them to leave well?” Now I know some of you might be thinking that this sounds like a horrible statement. Where is the love in this statement? Where is the faith in this statement? Where is . . . you name it! For us we felt like that there was nothing more faithful or loving then to prepare our children to leave the safety of the home well. We made tough decisions that we hoped and prayed that would prepare them. We challenged them in areas that we hoped and prayed would prepare them. We disciplined them in ways that we hoped and prayed that would prepare them. But most of all we loved and cared for them enough to prepare them to leave well. So what are you doing as a father or as a parent that is preparing your children to leave well?
And just so that you know that I am not talking out of turn. I am proud to say that our oldest is graduating from college this May with a degree in elementary education and seeking to attend possibly for her masters, our son is playing college football where he walked on and earned a scholarship and is pursuing a degree in exercise science, and our youngest plans to run cross country and track at the same college as her older sister and brother where she plans to get a degree in exercise science with an emphasis in physical therapy. (There were bumps along the way, but we are seeing them leave well.)
This year part of my hope as a leader is to help the other leaders around me develop as well. So one of the things that we have done as a team is to make sure that we are developing ourselves. We have taken the challenge to read 15 books in the next year. (I am a book-aholic) These are books that we want to help us make an impact in how we lead now. They are also books that we want to help us continue to grow spiritually healthy. The other part of our challenge is to view or listen to 52 videos or podcasts in the year. Each one of us made a list of some books to read and shared it with each other. We also then created a list that where we are going to keep track of the videos and podcasts that we are using. We don’t want to ask people to go where we are not willing to go ourselves. We want to make sure that we are becoming the best leaders that we possibly can be for the people that we are leading.
What are some ways that you are challenging yourself to grow in this year?
One of the things that I have realized over the last couple of months is that our prayer life is a great place to view our spiritual maturity. How we spend our time praying allows us to see where we are in our relationship with Jesus. I have noticed that when it comes to our prayer life for most followers of Jesus prayer is something that we do by reaction. When really it should be something that we do proactively. Instead of waiting for life to change our prayer life why not have our prayer life change our life. I love the Aramaic word for prayer it is slotha it means to set a trap. When a hunter sets a trap it is in the expectancy that something is going to get caught in the trap. When you spend time in prayer, do you expect your prayers to make a difference? Do you expect God to do something with them? This week I challenge you to pray proactively and to pray with the expectancy that God will work with in your prayer life.