When Your Son Says, “No, Dad” and He’s Right…

One of the most tragic things I’ve heard as a youth pastor are the countless stories of parents who are not active in the life of their children. While the story is different for each student the end result is the same..a child who feels that they are not loved by their parent. I’ve always wondered how this happen’s? How can a parent not care about their child, not be involved in their life? Where does it start?

And then it happened. I came home from work, changed into some shorts and took my almost two year old son outside to play “ball”. Liam loves to play ball. He loves anything that looks like a ball. In fact, he loves apples and oranges, mostly because they are Liam, Dad, and footballshaped in the form of a ball. His passion and love for sports and ball’s in general probably started when I would lay him on my chest and throw a football in the air when he was just 2 months old.

While tossing Liam the ball I felt the familiar buzz of my iPhone in my pocket notifying me of a text message or work email. I thought that I could quickly peek at my email in between tossing the ball. Liam saw me pull out my phone and quickly walked over to me and simply said “No, dad”. At first I thought he was referring to the ball that I was holding. A few minutes later I felt the buzz again and checked my email. This time Liam walked over to me, held my hand, and said, “No, dad. dadda, please, no”.

And then it hit me. This is where it starts. Liam wanted my attention. Not 95% of my attention but all of my attention. Somewhere over the course of 19 month’s Liam made a correlation between my iPhone and the amount of attention he gets from Dad. Simply, when there is no iPhone he gets all of Dads attention. In the presence of an iPhone he does not get dads attention.

This is where it starts. When Liam said, “No, Dad” he brought to attention the beginning roots of what could result in me becoming the very parent that would leave my son telling the very story that I hated to hear, to his youth pastor. It’s because of this very reason that I try my best to do the following things. While I’m not perfect with these, it has already made a huge difference.

  1. Have a designated “off the radar” time – While some jobs practically don’t allow for this, If your job does, I would highly recommend doing so. I try to disconnect from my phone around 6pm. This helps me to give my full attention to my wife and kids
  2. Get to work on time or earlier – I find that when I get into the office early I get a lot more done. When I am more productive and efficient at work, I don’t have to worry about taking work home with me.
  3. Listen to your wife – My best gauge of how I am doing in balancing work and home is my wife. If you think you can do this on your own, your either amazing and on superman status, or your lying to yourself.

A great resource that has been an encouragement to me is Pastor Mark Driscoll’s book, Pastor DadI have a long way to go in this area but I’d rather get a head start on this!

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Why Memoirs To My Kids?

To be very honest, the thought of writing a blog is not something that is incredibly appealing to me. I love theology, leadership, and discussing various philosophies of ministry. Writing blogs is not in that list. During some sermon preparation two years I ago, I started to see a consistent theme among pastors, theologians, scholars, and teachers that I valued and respected. They all wrote consistently. Some of my favorites like Charles Spurgeon, C.S Lewis, and Jonathan Edwards kept consistent journals and wrote to those that they loved. Hundreds of years later, there disciplined approach to writing left us with the ability to learn and grow from their thoughts.

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Liam (left) and Levi (right)

17 months ago my son Liam was born and one week ago my second son Levi joined us. As I was praying I felt an overwhelming compulsion to start writing specifically to them. I wanted Liam and Levi to be able to read my thoughts and see how the Gospel was actively transforming their incredibly flawed and sinful father. I wanted to be able to provide them the opportunity to learn from my experiences, successes, failures, and hardships. With the desire that they would experience the incredible power and refining of the Gospel, even beyond what I have.

Liam and Levi are an absolute joy, and I pray that these posts would encourage others that stumble upon this blog to experience the beauty of the Gospel and grow in their affections for Christ.

My next post will be Levi’s story and how God showed us his Glory through some challenging moments these last 9 months.

– Joel