There are things that I really like about men's conferences, leadership conferences, and so on. Things that give us fresh insight and/or things that we want to do different or augment in our lives. Things that we are going to change. And if we are all honest, for those of us that go to these conferences, we find ourselves for the first week (few weeks, months or slightly thereafter) doing these things that we say we are going to do and THEN life steps back in and we lose our focus and our way. Whether we are too busy at work or too busy at home or too busy at church or just plain too busy in all jaunts of life, we just set back into our old ways. Our old self nature - it's just too easy, like sin in our lives. For some of us, though, things are different. Something connected our spirit to our hearts and minds. Something poked a chord and or a nerve in our lives and we realized that, "yes I have been lax", and/or, "yes, I need to change the way that I do that." This past weekend was like that for me. Greg Laurie spoke on Friday night and used this phrase, "an unguarded strength is a double weakness." So often in life, if I reflect and look back on my journal(s), I can be brutally honest and say that this does happen to me, more so than not if I really want to be honest. This doesn't make me a bad dad or poor husband or whatever conclusion society could draw, rather, it makes me ineffective as a spiritual leader. It makes me neutralized as dad and as an effective husband.
Before you condemn me reading this post, realize that I am condemning myself. At the ActLikeMen conference Matt Chandler said something very poignant in that when we get home from our days jobs (whatever shift you work) that we still have shift 2 and shift 3 to handle and to engage and to finish. That is, to serve our wives and our children if God has blessed us with them. We need to start acting like men. Now before I totally throw myself under the bus, I want to say that there are things that my wife will say that I do really good: 1) I help clean (kitchen, etc.,) 2) I help with Laundry, 3) I help with the bedtime and homework and the like, BUT if I am really honest I can do so much more for my family. For instance, I could do the following:
Set the Pace - Honestly I am blown away at the pace at which culture/society tells us to travel. Let's be honest, if work was given full access to our lives some of us could work 70, 80 and over 100 hours and still have "to-do lists". Travel Sports (don't get me going on this one) Hobbies and Park District activities and for some families (if they have time for other things) - Youth Group. I can Set the Pace by being intentional on how I pray, how I read God's word and apply it to my daily life and I can create a healthy balance for my family between chores, homework and fun times with Mom & Dad & Friends and Family.
Time Management - The Hebrew day (back before electricity) was 6am to 6pm and then goodnight. If we are modern family and our kids go to school then your morning looks like this: Mom and Dad wakes up, Kids wake up, Eat Breakfast, Change clothes, wash up (teeth brushed), Drive to School, Kids at school all day and mom and dad work from home (or at work) and so on. There are only 24 hours in a day (and God likes us to be orderly and good stewards with our time, talent and treasure), that being said, we only have so much time in a day. Teach our kids the gift of time. I can do this by being an example not a sloth at home.
Give them Stewardship - I have to teach my family the value of God's time, talent and treasure that he has given me through His promise of giving us His Spirit. That is, each one of us that has professed the name of Jesus Christ as Savior has been given fruit of the Spirit (Spiritual Gifts) to honor God. I have to set the priorities that are so important in this order: God, Family, Church, Work, Friends and Other. I have to put God first in everything and as Spiritual leader I have to put my wife and family next. The more that my family sees Jesus in me and how I serve with the gifts that he has entrusted in me, the better I serve my wife and kids, the better they inherit this stewardship and the better my lot will go at the Judgement Seat of Christ (goal = to hear our Redeemer say, "well done thou good and faithful servant."). Teach them the value of money (to tithe, to save and how much to spend. Live it, let them know that you practice what you preach - this is true accountability.
Be Bold - Act like men in showing your kids the strength of Jesus when you serve them. No matter what life brings me (through trial and tribulation) show them your love and grace and mercy. Show them that it is okay to hurt, to cry and to struggle, but show them also your unwavering faith. Be Bold in love. Be bold in truth and Be bold in serving.
Arm Them - The word of God is bold and effective and able to separate bone from marrow. It is a double-edge sword. It is truth. Own the truth, know the word and work on memory with your children. The more that they own the more that they will carry with them into adulthood. Teach them to pray. Teach them to pray for the Armor of God (Read Ephesians 6).
What are some of your lists?
As for me, this past weekend taught me an extremely valuable lesson, not only to guard my 6 (with brothers that I call men of Faith and Lance) also to doubly guard my strengths. I can do this by daily reading of the Bible, Praying continually. Seeking that quiet time with God (listening for his voice). To have accountability in my life (not just from my wife, but from brothers who will be brutal and honest in love).