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A recent article on Huffington Post highlighted a new study out about aggressive behaviors in boys linked to dads who work long hours. According to the article one of the reasons boys might be “acting out” is because of the lack of interaction with the same gendered parent. Now, my initial response was “here we go another study about how dads are screwing up their kids.” But the more I thought about it the more I think it reveals a deeper principle which you often hear in Christian circles but is applicable to all of life regardless of your religious belief or upbringing. It is this: you reap what you sow.
The pastor at our church often says things that I love to write down and reflect on but the following quote he said a few months a go really hit home with me. He said, “The greatest tragedy in life is being successful in things that don't matter.”
I know for each one of us as dads we would define success differently. I get that. The real question for us though is how would our children define our success? If you allowed your child to be the CEO of your life even for one day … what would that look like? What kind of schedule would you keep? What would be your projects? I know what my day would look like: board games, coloring, possibly getting my hair done with my daughters and then going to catch a movie with my son or going on a hike.
What would success look like if you were more intentional at home? How is it that we can develop mission statements and vision statements that allow our organizations and companies to aspire to greatness yet we are comfortable in allowing popular culture and media to develop the mission and vision statements of our children? Miley Cyrus shocks us with her antics but why are we surprised … don’t you listen to her lyrics … your kids do.
In our fast-paced world today, we often live for the moment. We may look to the future, but it’s a finite future, a very narrow synopsis of what God’s future entails. So we get caught up in our ambitions and our goals, our struggles, our baggage, our detours, our fears, and often forget why God has allowed the triumphs and the bumps in our path.
How we define success for ourselves and for our families has generational impact.
Galations 6:7-9 states: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will fromthe flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
The reality for most of us as dads is that at the end of the day we give it our all. We try our hardest to love our wives and kids to the best of our ability. Find encouragement in that our success as dads isn’t because we are perfect but because our success is defined by the time spent and invested in loving and calling out the men and women in our children.
Another thought on the study about dad working long hours. For the dads who this might be true for because your work requires you to travel a lot, or maybe you are serving our country faithfully through military service, find peace that if you know that this is where God has you for right here and now, that He gives an extra measure of grace. Take full advantage of the time you do have with your kids be as intentional as possible and leverage technology to bridge the gap of distance.
Be successful in those things that truly matter… Don’t get weary in doing good for your family, because in due season your children will reap a harvest if you do not give up.
Roy Baldwin (@baldwin_roy) is a contributor for Dad Matters and the Director of Parenting & Youth at Focus on the Family.
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