Lately, Zane’s been struggling a bit with telling the truth. This is pretty typical for kids, of course. But this boy does make some rather unbelievable statements. Sometimes I just wonder what is going on in his little brain. He can come up with some real zingers!
Yesterday in church Gwen came up to share about an interesting conversation she had during Sunday School. In all seriousness, Zane told her,
” Justin Bieber is my brother.”
Now, Gwen knows our family, and she knows Zane. She was a bit puzzled by this statement, though. Before she could reply, he continued:
“Yeah. He doesn’t come around much, because he’s pretty busy going around singing and stuff.”
Ah, of course.
I was wondering why I haven’t seen Justin around the house for some time…
In Colorado, where our family makes its home, there are fifty-four “14ers” (mountains 14,000 feet or higher). Some outdoor enthusiasts make it a goal to climb all fifty-four. I recently heard about one man who was climbing Mount Princeton with his son.
As they neared the summit and the father scanned the trail, the boy shouted out from behind,
“Choose the good path, Dad; I’m coming right behind you!”
That little fellow was instinctively reminding his dad to live the words of Proverbs 22:6:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (ESV).
Or consider the apostle Paul’s blunt admonition to the members of the church at Ephesus:
“Fathers,” he said, “do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 ESV).
Isn’t that the whole point? You don’t want to be a good father just for the sake of being a good father. You want to be a good father because you want to teach your son how to be a good man!
As I’ve worked at being an intentional, engaged dad, one of the more effective tools I’ve used is a milestone event to mark the various passages of life.
When my boys hit age eleven or so, I took them off for a special weekend to get ready for the turbulence of the adolescent years. We enjoyed some great guy time, with outdoor adventures, good food and some special times of father-son instruction.
Dena and I commemorated their 14th birthdays with a adults-only special dinner. Spending the evening with a few select couples, enjoying some great steaks and conversation, I charged them to be men of God. It was a casual – and quite Christian – adaptation of a bar mitzvah.
At 18 we celebrated high school graduation and the official start to their adult lives. I read some Scriptures, we gave them some small gifts, and we all turned the corner to their journey on the road of life.
If you strive to be a good model for your kids, and if you want to really make their transition to adulthood meaningful – and memorable – there are some great resources. A new book, Rite of Passage, written by Jim McBride, caught my attention. Jim is the executive producer of the films released by Sherwood Pictures (he pastors at Sherwood Baptist Church). Their newest project, Courageous, is in theaters September 30.
Father to four children, Jim has lived out a powerful approach to setting his kids on a right path. A good path.
What I liked about Rite of Passage is the way it records Jim’s dedication to his daughters and son, and to his God. He planned and then held ceremonies to mark the maturing of his kids, and to help them know God’s intent for their lives, as they became adults. He worked hard, and succeeded in bringing together memories messages involving significant people in his children’s lives.
The book is easy to read, full of personal anecdotes and quotes. Jim includes practical suggestions, and even tackles some common challenges in setting out to mark your child’s road to adulthood.
I was really glad to read this book right now because in our family we’ll celebrate yet another 16th birthday in just a few months. Our fourth child, a beloved daughter, will hit “Sweet Sixteen,” and we want to make sure we celebrate richly. Even though in previous years we’ve marked the occasion for her three older siblings, or perhaps because we have done so, this girl needs something really special. Jim McBride has given me some great ideas to incorporate as we begin planning!
Dad, you love your kids. You long to model “the good path” for your kids. Get a dose of inspiration from out Courageous – and Rite of Passage.
And, if you’re a new father, grab the free download of chapter one from my book, First Time Dad, from the sidebar on the right. Maybe it’ll encourage you in these early days of parenting.
In late July 1991, I was pondering a job change. I was happy with managing two Christian radio stations in Texas. Our circumstances were close to ideal. We lived two blocks from my wife’s sister and her family. One set of grandparents—we had one child at the time—lived only twenty minutes away. We belonged to a good church, had some wonderful friends, and loved our neighborhood.
To accept the new job would mean moving to Colorado and leaving all we had known as a young family. There’d be some tears if we took on the challenge of a new job in a new city and state.
That was a lot of upheaval to consider.
As a complicating factor, we were expecting at any time the birth of a second child.
Weighing the opportunity, we sought counsel from trusted friends. After considerable prayer and thought, we decided to go for it.
Within hours of making the decision, Dena went into labor. In fact, Seth was born just eight hours after I called to accept the offer to join the Focus on the Family broadcast team. Six weeks later, I was in Colorado starting the new job.
And today, September 13, marks my 20th anniversary with the organization. The time has flown!
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work at Focus, and haven’t regretted the tumultuous move we made to be here in Colorado. I thank God for the many great things that I’ve experienced these past two decades! Of course, I thank my wife Dena for faithfully supporting and praying for me through these years. I’ll also offer a public thank you to the many who have helped me grow and serve more effectively at Focus. I’ve served under some superb leaders!
Now, let me get a tissue to wipe my eyes…
NOTE: The above thoughts are adapted from the last chapter (“Blink!”) of my book, First Time Dad, The Stuff You Really Need To Know. Download the first chapter, and find additional material, from the links to the right side of this blog. It is available in paperback and e-reader formats, and I’ll have an audio book out soon, as well.
And, as I consider the past 20 years at Focus, five quick reflections:
- There have been lots of hellos and goodbyes. Staff, guests, friends in the business. Transitions are part of life, aren’t they?
- I’m surrounded by truly amazing people. My co-workers have heart, depth, commitment, passion, business savvy, wisdom, talent, and a love for Christ that are really inspiring!
- God has shown Focus on the Family incredible favor, with outstanding open doors, audiences, partnerships and impact. Literally thousands of lives are changed through Focus on the Family every year.
- My favorite times include our in-studio conversations with guests, and meeting friends (and partners) of the ministry. There are so many terrific people who have a desire to help families!
- The most gratifying aspect of my work over the years has been the opportunity to share the Good News with folks, knowing God is reaping an eternal harvest through us. I am humbled to know He sends our radio programming around the world, and that many broadcasts have helped individuals better understand His grace and mercy in Christ. Awesome!