There are times when I know that my daughters are reading this blog. There are other times that they probably aren’t. (Do they really want to hear their dad talk more?) Regardless, I have to admit that I often write these words thinking about their reaction. Sometimes having them in mind seems to help me be more clear and to the point.
I want to tell you what I have been trying to give our children. Rearing children has been a great experience but it has been a discipline. To rear children has brought smiles, laughter, tears, and lots of other emotion.
Like so many of you who are parents, I have tried to be intentional about being a father to our two daughters. I have also tried to be intentional about my life and role as a minister. I find that some of the very qualities that are important to me as a father are also important to me as I serve a church.
1. I want to be a dad who does not serve with an inflated ego. I have never wanted our family to revolve around my wants, my preferences, my emotions, etc. I do not want my children to think that their concerns are trivial compared to mine.
Likewise, I want to be a minister who does not serve with an inflated ego and a heightened sense of self-importance. Nothing is sadder than a minister who communicates to the church that his ego must be constantly massaged and stroked.
2. I want to be a dad who is becoming Christ-like. I sincerely want to be engaged in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus. I want my children to know that my heart’s desire is to be maturing in Jesus. As a human being, I will fumble and be inconsistent. Yet, I want my daily intent to be that of growing as a Christ-like man.
As a minister, I want to be Christ-like. This is at the heart of Christian ministry as we live out of the over-flow of our relationship with him. A minister may be weak in some skills. This person may need to improve in this or that. The absolute non-negotiable for Christian ministry, however, is that this must be a person who is serious about being a Christ-follower.
3. I want to be a dad who is willing to address "what lies beneath" in my own life.
- Do my children experience my constant anger?
- Do my children have a father who will not recognize his own insecurities?
- Do they have a dad who just doesn’t admit it when he is wrong?
- Do they experience distance and disconnection that is a spin-off of his own hurts and wounds from his past?
As a minister, I need to be asking some of these same questions. What are people experiencing with me? What is happening with me emotionally and how is that impacting others?
4. I want to be a dad who is first a healthy, godly human being. Being a dad is not about buying my children everything imaginable. Being a good dad is not about seeing to it that they experience what I never got to experience. Being a great dad is about first being a good man who has a healthy, godly way of "being."
I want to be a minister who is first a healthy, godly human being. Too many ministers are focused on being managers, caretakers, church builders, etc. (Yes, the work may require some of these.) The focus, however, is not on what I need to do but who I am and how I am relating to and loving the church and community. The following questions might be worth some reflection:
- Do I handle my emotions in a way that reflect my own maturity or my immaturity?
- Do I have healthy relationships with my family and church through the ups and downs of life? Or, do I seek emotional shortcuts through pornography, or emotional/physical affairs?
- Do I love people enough to give people room to think, love, and relate to others? Or, do I seek to manipulate others out of my own neediness?
What are other critical keys to being a parent (or minister) besides the ones I’ve mentioned?