Last year we went on a family vacation to one of our favorite beaches. We stayed at a quiet place way down the beach, away from where all the action is. It’s more family friendly that way, but sometimes we venture down where the action is for dinner. We happened to be there last year during spring break, and it was very crowded where the action was. One particular thing caught my attention; everywhere I looked there were t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and various other items with the letters YOLO plastered on them. I asked a kid I saw what it meant, and he laughed at me. So I did what any self-respecting man in his mid thirties does when trying to figure out what the kids are up to these days…I Googled it. Turns out that YOLO means, “You Only Live Once”. A predictably popular slogan for spring breakers grasping for a justification to do whatever they wanted. I saw the appeal, but here’s the problem:
YOLO is a lie.
You don’t only live once. You live everyday. True, we aren’t promised tomorrow, so we should make the most of today. But it’s probably a good idea to make the most of today in a way that doesn’t put tomorrow in serious jeopardy. Just a thought.
Everyday is composed of moments that come and go. It’s true that Jesus has called us to live life to the fullest. Life in Christ is rich and meaningful. The Bible describes it as abundant life. But this is not a justification to make as many reckless choices as possible in the shortest amount of time. This is a call to find lasting joy in living for the deeper things in life, not to seek fleeting entertainment the shallow things.
As a Dad, part of my God given responsibility is to help my family find joy in the more significant moments of life. Sometimes that means recognizing and seizing certain moments and making them significant. We must not just “take life as it comes”, we must come to life and take it for the glory of God and the benefit of our families.
Here are 5 moments that every Father should live for:
Teaching moments come all the time. Rarely do they come with a 2 minute warning so that you can be ready. Taking advantage of teaching moments requires thoughtful preparation. If you haven’t thought through what you want to teach your family, you won’t recognize the moments when opportunity strikes. Spend time in the scriptures and reading books that inspire intentional parenting and discipleship. Pray that the Holy Spirit will make you sensitive to teaching moments. Often, dads miss out on teaching opportunities because they look a lot like hard work. Pouring your heart into your family on a daily basis isn’t easy, but things that are eternally meaningful rarely are.
Being a man of God doesn’t mean having a family that serves and worships you. It means sacrificially serving them. In a display of God’s grace, often sacrificial service will inspire your family to honor you, but that’s not the point. Jesus set the example for us as a sacrificial servant; not only washing his disciple’s feet (he considered anyone who did the will of God to be family: Mark 3), but by serving them all the way to the cross. Look for moments when you can display Christ’s sacrificial love to your family by putting their needs and joys first. Model it, then humbly teach it. Create a culture of selflessness and others-centeredness in your home, not a culture of selfishness.
There will be moments in your family’s life when the brokenness of the world crashes in, and the people you love are hurting. The Bible teaches us that God is near to the brokenhearted. We model our Heavenly Father’s love when we compassionately care for our families in times of pain. If there are people in your house who are hurting and you are not making your presence felt as a comforter, stop reading this article and go do what needs to be done. Ask God to help you see the hurts of your family with His compassionate eyes, and show his strength by being there for them.
Yesterday I was walking into the grocery store and I was struck by the beauty of the evening sky and an approaching thunderstorm. I stood there for a while and worshiped in quiet appreciation. Then I took a picture, found this scripture and went home to share my experience with my family. “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.” Psalm 135:7 Perhaps the moment will come as God miraculously meets a need in your life. Perhaps the worship moment comes through a song on the radio, or a word of wisdom from a friend. Marvel at God in your heart, but share the wonder with your family… make the most of it.
Determine in your heart that you will regularly, and often, communicate to your family how they are a blessing from God to you. Thoughtfully express to each person, individually, how they bless your life. Let them feel the joy they bring you. It may take some effort and courage, but the alternative is having a family that never knows how much they mean to you. Young people treat themselves carelessly because they don’t feel valuable. Wives struggle to feel confident because husbands don’t make the effort to show them their great worth. I try to tell my children on a regular basis that they are my treasures. I treat them with thoughtful care because they are worth so much to me. My hope and belief is that they will grow to see themselves as people of great worth and value, and make life choices accordingly. Interestingly, the more we teach our families what a blessing they are to us, the more of a blessing we are to them. Parents should strive to be a blessing to their children at all stages of life, and children should likewise always seek to honor their parents. Be a blessing, and leave it to God to inspire them to honor you as you have honored your Heavenly Father.