I have three incredible “almost-grown” kids. My daughter just started a new business and is dating a fine young man. My older son is thriving in the honors program of an incredible Christian college. My younger son is academically ranked eighteenth in his high school class and is a rock-solid linebacker on the football team.
My memory, however, most often recalls the times I blew it as a father.
If I could go back and have a chat with thirty-year-old me, I would challenge that young man to teach his kids only two things… and model one thing more.
I Would Teach Them to Bear Spiritual Fruit
Galatians 5:22-23 provides the ultimate set of character traits a person can develop. The surrounding verses even suggest that Jesus wants to help us cultivate that fruit. I like people that are loving, joyful, at peace, patient, kind, gentle, good and self-controlled. They are easy to be around. I would teach my kids to use that list as measurable objectives for personal growth.
Focusing on bearing Spiritual fruit would make them the best people they can be. This focus would make them like Jesus in who they become.
I Would Teach Them to Optimize Their Spiritual Gifts
The New Testament includes multiple lists of supernatural gifts that God gives to His people. Every follower of Jesus has at least one, and it is our privilege to steward those gifts to build up each other and Jesus’ mission as a whole. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing God is working through me to accomplish His purposes and to serve others. I believe my kids will have the same hunger that I do, which is to lead a meaningful life.
Focusing on optimizing Spiritual gifts would make them the most significant people they can be. This focus would make them like Jesus in what they do.
I Would Model the “I See in You” Conversation Over and Over
Nothing inspires spiritual formation in a person more than having someone they respect pointing out something beautiful or meaningful in them. The “I See in You” conversation is a simply way to do that for your children time and time again.
When my daughter was about eight years old, she would regularly invite the neighborhood kids over and line them up to play school. She was a natural leader, so I had an “I See in You” conversation about that leadership gift. She leads in most everything she does now. I noticed that my older son regularly befriended kids that weren’t yet fitting in with the bigger friend group he was part of. I had an “I See in You” conversation with him about his gift of compassion. He is now studying psychology to help people.
You may have heard the maxim “what gets celebrated gets done.” It is certainly true when we point out how Jesus is showing up in and through a person!
Clarity in Focus Would Probably Render a Cleaner Conscience
I can’t go back and talk to thirty-year-old me, but I can speak up to those who are just entering into the fathering world. My message to young fathers is this: “Even a great ‘kid-resume’ will not protect you from a big drawerful of regret for those ‘fathering-gone-bad’ moments. But, clarity of focus in HOW you raise your kids will help you minimize those failures and give those good memories a place to stick.”Back to Blog