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Father forgive them

This post originally appeared in the DadPad blog.

I had lunch this week with Dave, a friend of mine and father of three adult children.  The topic of this blog came up so I asked, “What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned as a dad?”  Dave’s answer was profoundly succinct, “Expect less, love more.”

father forgive

As I reflected upon his advice, I remembered Jesus’ prayer on the cross, “ Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Now that’s expecting less and loving more!

Then it hit me.  When it came to my kids — and many of my other relationships — I bought into another similar sounding message: “Expect more, pay less.”  It’s the slogan of Target Corporation and it’s been heavily advertised into my heart.

It’s too easy to expect more of my children, particularly as they grow into young adults.  And I want to pay less too.  I’d like the sacrifices I’ve made as a dad to be paid back or, at least, to cost me less.  The “expect more, pay less” combination applied to relationships, however, is lethal. Expectations of others without personal cost is demandingness.  Ironically, it’s a childish attitude.

When my teenagers take off with their friends, leaving chores undone, do I really expect that they would put their parent’s desires above their own?  I say to myself, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.  When they come home later than we wanted to stay up waiting for them, can I admit I did the same at their age?  Father forgive them for they know not what they do. When their forgetfulness means more work for me, can I realistically expect a heartfelt appreciation for the schedule overhaul I just engineered?  Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

And when my Father looks down on my ungrateful, demanding spirit, wanting my way, my agenda, my comfort, in my time, can I hear Him say, “I forgive you, for you know not what you do?”

SOUND OFF:  What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned as a dad?

LearyGatesMugLeary Gates is a corporate and personal venture coach. He leads a management consulting firm and a coaching ministry, both based in Minneapolis. Leary is also the President of the National Coalition of Ministries to Men, the largest discipleship equipping coalition on the planet. He is co-host of the podcast and blogs regularly at But his greatest honor is being husband to Anna and father to four grown children.

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