Posts tagged family involvement

You are the most interesting man in their world



This blog post first appeared in the Noah Gets a Nail Gun.

You’ve seen the commercials for the most interesting man in the world – he starts the morning saving endangered alpine birds, followed by a dominant performance at the international polo competition in Dagestan, then wraps up the evening mending flaws in the theory of relativity over a cup of an exotic beverage he brewed the night before from seal scrotums, polar bear teeth and arctic ice. Quite a list of accomplishments for any one lifetime, yet just an average day when you are … the most interesting man in the world.

If the characterization wasn’t so over the top, I’d find my man card status threatened by the mere existence of such a person. But you don’t have to drink Dos Ickies to be found interesting. You don’t even have to be the most interesting man in the world. A much more attainable goal is to become The Most Interesting Dad to Your Kids. How do you do this? Start with pursuing things you find interesting.

Robert Lewis, author and founder of Men’s Fraternity, talks about the importance of a man having something to look forward to everyday. A man needs productive interests in his life, things that make him a better man. Too many guys in their 30s, when work gets hot and heavy and the kids get smelly and sticky, give up all the activities that they found fun and interesting in their 20s. They pour their lives into their jobs, come limping home to try to make it through one more night. Just barely enduring the kids, hopefully not checking out too long or blowing up too often, they fall into bed in yard-work clothes with one thigh hanging off the mattress, too exhausted to shower away the grass clippings. All merely to wake up and repeat the cycle again tomorrow. What joy. And by the time the weekend comes along, little league and dance parties consume any remaining energy. The only rest seen in a given week is their ritual seven minutes on the office toilet. Even that gets interrupted by the guy in the next stall calling his mom to wish her a happy birthday.

But as Robert Lewis said, it is important to do something with your life that is interesting, even if only to you, something that gives you energy and makes you look forward to the next day. Even if you think you don’t have the time. You must come to believe that it really is worth the time. Why? For you own sanity, for the sanity of your wife and kids, for opportunities to sharpen and be sharpened by other men.

FlyFishingFor your own sanity

Before we had kids, I did a fair amount of fly fishing. At the time, I had a friend who said two very important things to me, he said “I’ve explained to my wife that fly-fishing is cheaper and more entertaining than counseling.” Meaning, if he didn’t have some outlet he would probably go insane. He also said, “And if I ever get bored of fishing, I can just stop and fiddle with my gear.” Meaning, half of the fun of the sport for him is acquiring and learning how to use the gear. There was an artistry and cathartic aspect to just getting ready to fly fish that was interesting in and of itself. The tying of the flies, the practicing of the cast, the community and friendships that developed, all of this gave him joy. He didn’t have to be on the river to be enjoying the sport. But more than anything, he understood that he needed this outlet to keep from going crazy. He had to have something like this in his life to keep him healthy.

I’ve seen a number of guys lately who are able to sustain the maddening pace of work/kids with no other outlets for a few years, mostly because the allure of their job keeps them going, but once they reach the pinnacle or plateau of their career, they look back down the hill and think “I shaved my face for this?” They’ve not fostered any part of their personal life and have thus become very un-interesting to almost everyone, including themselves.

Proverbs 20:5 says “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” It’s interesting that we still know very little about the deepest parts of the ocean. We’ve been x thousands of miles away to the moon and explored the outer limits of the solar system, but can’t go seven miles down into the water. The pressure is so intense at that depth that if you were to inadvertently pluck a nose hair, your brains might shoot through the exposed follicle. Actually, people can’t even go to those depths, only unmanned vehicles.

But no worries, because this verse isn’t referring to the ocean (and none of us are that deep anyway), as an ancient Hebrew person couldn’t afford a full SCUBA system. And without oxygen and neoprene, it’s hard to get deeper than a dozen feet.

The Hebrew word for “draw it out” refers to the act of getting water out of a well, of drawing up a bucket. And it comes from a word describing, “lowness as a state or goal.” Remember the cartoons where the well bucket would drop and send the rope spinning, causing the crank handle to do a Mike Tyson on some pour soul’s face? The bucket drops in a hurry. In fact, the natural state of the bucket is lowness – is to settle in to the bottom of the well and stay there. But when you’re low – whether you meant to get there or not, you’ve got to draw it up. When tempted to vegetate, you’ve got to pull up the bucket!

I know a guy who hates his job. I mean HATES it. I felt sorry for him for the first year or so, but now I don’t want to hear about it any more. I don’t ever ask him about it. Because if he still hates his job, it’s his own fault. Only he can make that change. He has to find something interesting. But that’s no easy task. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things a man can do. It takes intentional hard work to get to the heart of a man. But a man of understanding, or, for our purposes, an “interesting” man, will draw it out.

For the sanity of your family

When I was a kid, my dad often amazed me. He seemed to be the strongest, fastest, smartest person I had ever met. There was nothing he seemingly couldn’t do.

What makes a leader?



In creating the Stepping Up men’s video series, FamilyLife interviewed men in the New Orleans French Quarter, asking the following question:

“What makes a leader?”
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Some of the guys in the video were on target with their answers, others were a bit off. Below, we’ve pulled some quotes, not from just any guy on the street, but from some men who have been intentional about their leadership.

. . .

“If you look in Ephesians, Chapter 5, and you look at the list of qualifications, really, for a husband — you look at this picture of what it means to be a Christ-like leader — basically, to lead a wife as Christ leads the church. You find that the picture is not just about a guy who pounds his chest and says, ‘Me man; you woman — me speak; you do.’ He’s to lead in love. He’s to lead in the Word. He’s to lead in righteousness. He’s to lead in selflessness, and he is to lead in intimacy.

“Most guys don’t understand servant-leadership from that perspective. So, it’s very important that when we talk about the way a husband is supposed to lead, we don’t just take the culture’s definition of leadership and superimpose that on the Scriptures. We have to get into the Word of God to determine what biblical leadership in the home looks like; and then look for an individual who understands that, as opposed to just the cultural norm.”

– Voddie Baucham, from “Discovering Biblical Leadership,”  FamilyLife Today® radio broadcast

“The statue is of William Leftwich. It is a statue of a man, with one arm pointed to his left — his rifle is in that arm — his body is clearly running in the direction of his outstretched rifle. His right arm is crooked; and it is beckoning those who, although unseen, are behind him. His head is pointed back at them. You can tell he’s yelling something. Below that statue, it says simply, ‘Follow me!’

“And that, I think, is a phenomenal picture of leadership. It is: ‘If you want to know where to go, watch me. Follow me because I will be doing what I ask you to do, and I will be leading the way toward a mission that is worthy of being accomplished.’ This man, ultimately, died in Viet Nam because he went on every rescue mission for the Reconnaissance Marines that he sent out. One day, on the rescue mission of the men he commanded, his helicopter was shot down and he died. He was doing exactly what he asked his men to do. When he said, “’Follow me!’ they listened.”

– Donovan Campbell, author of The Leader’s Code, from “Characteristics of a Leader,” FamilyLife Today radio broadcast

“Two words — serve and lead — may seem like a contradiction, but they are inseparable according to Scripture. While the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:23 that ‘the husband is the head of the wife,’ he quickly puts to rest any notions that this leadership allows any form of selfish male dominance. He completes the sentence with ‘as Christ also is the head of the church.’ Then the passage goes on to say that husbands should love their wives ‘just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her’ (verse 25).

“This paints a picture of leadership that is contrary to how the world views it. A man is called to be a servant-leader — to take responsibility for his wife and children and to put their needs ahead of his own. He is called to demonstrate selfless, sacrificial love — the type of love we see in God toward his children.”

– Dennis Rainey, “5 Ways Men Need to Step Up”

He’s been gone for years



We talk about how important marriage and family is, but where are we directing our emotional energy each day?

He was a well-respected executive in his community. He had climbed the ladder of success and was reaping the rewards.

Except in his family.

He arrived home from work one day and shocked his wife by telling her he wanted a divorce so he could marry another woman. This couple had two sons in grade school, and the mother worried how they would react to the news. But when she told them that their father was leaving them, she was surprised by her oldest boy’s reply: “Mom, he’s been gone for years.”

Gone for years.

I think that’s one of the saddest quotes I’ve ever heard. It echoes through countless homes in America today, where a husband or wife, a dad or mom, may be physically present but emotionally absent. We talk about how important marriage and family is, but where are we directing our emotional energy each day?

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’ve entered a season in my career where I have more to do than I can ever remember — more writing, more editing, more projects, more planning, more managing, more responsibility. I love all these opportunities that God has given me, but I’m also realizing how much of my emotional energy is used up during the work hours.

When I leave my home in the morning and begin driving to work, my mind shifts into a different mode of operation — like an idle computer that is suddenly activated. Throughout the day, my mind is racing as I move from one task to another. I’m meeting with people … doing research … planning future articles for the FamilyLife website … trying to put words together for a column like this. I often need exercise at lunch time just to keep my mind clear.

And when I return home each evening, what do I want? On most days I’ve used up so much emotional energy that all I care about is shutting down that computer in my mind. I want to lie on the couch and read magazines or books. I want to watch White Collar or Person of Interest on television, or relax with one of my favorite old movies on DVD. Let’s see … should I escape to the Old West and enjoy Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne squaring off with Lee Marvin in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” or should I watch Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain”?

There’s only one tiny problem with this scenario: Life doesn’t revolve around me. Philippians 2:3-8 calls me to put my wife’s needs above my own. When I use up too much emotional energy at work, and waste too much time with entertainment, other priorities are neglected.

My wife, Merry, would probably say I’m being too hard on myself. My daughters are grown now, but I’m confident they wouldn’t use words like, “He’s been gone for years” when they describe me as a father. But in my heart, I know how easy it is for me to detach emotionally for a few hours or even a few days.

Here are a couple of things I need to do:

  • Spend more time alone with God, talking with Him and reading His Word. I find when I am consistent in spending time with God, I have more emotional energy throughout the day.
  • Be more proactive in spending quality time with Merry. I need to talk with her more, and I need to get out and have fun with her more.

I wish I was writing with wisdom gained from years of doing it right. But I’m still in the battle, and I have a feeling many of you are as well.

Copyright © FamilyLife. All rights reserved. This post originally appeared in Marriage Memo.

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