As today is Father’s Day, and now being a dad for over 10 years and a son for a lot longer than that, I thought I’d share some things about being a dad.
1. In our culture, being a man is difficult. I know that being a woman is incredibly difficult, and I’m not wading into a historical debate or sexism in our culture (which sadly still exists). The reason I say it is hard is because of a lack of clarity, which is also one reason why being a woman is hard (but that’s a different blog post).
Most people have no idea what a man actually is. Now with people choosing their gender identity, the lines are becoming even more blurry than they already are. This makes success as a father, husband, friend, brother and son that more difficult. Are men supposed to be tough or tender and cry a lot? Should they be hard workers and entrepreneurs or play video games until 4am? All of them at once? Which is it?
2. Purity is really hard. I’m not just talking about sex here, but that’s part of it. Having a pure mind, a pure heart, pure motives as you pursue your dreams, those are all incredibly difficult. Sometimes this is because we are sinning, but other times it is because what we are pursuing is right, but it just doesn’t line up with what people around us think we should do.
3. Parenting is really hard. I know, parenting has always been hard. Throw in now raising kids with social media, exposure to porn at an early age, the gender conversation, and it is really hard. It is hard to keep kids focused on who they are, who God is while everything gets pulled in a different direction. On top of that, everyone has an opinion on every parenting topic: discipline, vaccines, schooling, sports, dating, and you often feel like a failure. I figure my kids will end up in a counselor’s office when they’re adults (I did). I just hope it isn’t that bad. Just writing that makes me feel like a failure of a dad, but you can judge.
4. Being a picture of God as a Father to my kids is scary. Going along with #3, I’m reminded on a daily basis that my kids are forming a picture of not only relationships with others but with God as they interact with me. Here’s a question every dad needs to keep in the front of his mind: What is it like on the other side of me? What emotions and feelings do people (my kids and spouse) have as they interact with me? As your kids grow up, that is what they will often feel from God.
5. Dealing with your wounds is hard work. Depending on your upbringing, your wounds will be different than mine. But you have them, and they make an impact on your life today. I’ve talked before about mine, but if you don’t deal with yours, they will haunt your future. You have wounds, and they are impacting every relationship you have. They are impacting every interaction, everything you hear. But it is hard work. I want to leave what happened when I was 11 back in 1990 with Vanilla Ice. But I can’t, and neither can you.
6. Having friends is hard work. Let’s be honest, friends for most people are difficult. For men they seem to be a lot harder than I expected. In college hanging out was easy. In your 20’s, really easy. Now with jobs, mortgages, kids, marriage, moving across the country, being friends with people is hard. We expect people to keep up with our lives on social media but never really connect with them. I keep hearing from men in their 50’s and 60’s about how they have no close friends, and that is really scary to me. I asked a room full of young church planters recently how many of them had close friends, and in a room of a 100 just a few hands went up.
7. I’m astounded by my wife. Regularly when people hear we have five kids, the looks are often comical. Sometimes they say what is running through their heads, sometimes not. I always fill in the blanks if they don’t say it out loud, but they always stop in their tracks. They wonder how we ever sleep, have time for ourselves, not lose our minds, and it takes being intentional for all of that to happen. That’s why I’m simply blown away by Katie. Without her I wouldn’t be the father, husband, leader or man that I am. When church planters ask how Revolution got off the ground, my response is, “Besides God, my wife.” The way she rounds me out, holds our house together, pushes me, believes in me, deals with me, deals with our kids, it astounds me.
8. I’m hopeful about it all. We’re about to enter the teenage years in our house, and I’m hopeful. I love the relational beings my kids are becoming, the questions they are asking (even though we’re having the sex talks a lot earlier than I thought we would when I was a young parent), I love playing games with them and experiencing life. I also love that I have the privilege of raising five people who will make an impact on the world one day. That thought shapes my parenting every day. I get to be a part of the legacy they will leave.