One of our speakers was Carey Casey, from the National Center for Fathering. Seemed like a very nice/fun guy, with an impressive arsenal with which to name drop. One of the "real life" members of the "Remember the Titans" final game. He's met with President Obama, and several other famous people I didn't write down.
He talked about an obvious dilemma for any of us who want to engage an entire family that attends our church. Many times, the father takes a "back seat" to the spiritual development of the children, and often parenting altogether. In recent days, I'm hearing more and more of these statistics, as I've attended the local "Men's Fraternity", and will be heading on a "Wild At Heart" weekend later in October. I've not had a huge interest in these types of things before. I was raised much of my life by just my mom, and don't really enjoy hunting, playing sports, or working on cars as perhaps I should. I usually end up cringing at statements like "Real Men enjoy/are wired to ________"...usually because it puts me out of the group. But as much as I poke fun at some of the overly macho enthusiasm, and apparent need to associate every analogy with sports, hunting, or some other obviously masculine endeavor...I recognize there is truth in some of what they're saying....men need to be called on differently than women. We need to be reminded that it's not about money, strength, "success" as defined by the world, and it's not something that happens automatically. Being a father, a husband, and a man God is using....takes effort, practice, Love, humility, etc., and dependence on/seeking God. Ministries like this ARE reaching men across the country...and God can use that.
So, once we've gotten their attention, how do we engage fathers (myself included) in the spiritual development of their families and children?
By reminding them, there is a purpose to being where they are. By ministering to their marriages as a top priority. By helping dads to pursue unconditional love. Teaching/guiding fathers to "coach" their children. He used the illustration of asking a father, "Suppose you were asked to be assistant coach for your child's team? Think of the energy and enthusiasm you would put into preparing your child, and how they interact with the team as a whole...etc. Now...how much energy/enthusiasm do you put into your child's eternity (which has already begun)?"
To model the life we want to guide other men toward, in Christ. To encourage a fatherless child ourselves...he reminded us of the words in James 1:27...the call to look after orphans and widows, for this is religion God accepts as pure and faultless. He reminded us to enlist other dads in all of this as well...referring to the well-known proverb about iron sharpening iron.
I look forward to connecting with other young fathers in the next years specifically.....on purpose...and without having to grunt or shoot an animal to do it. But if they wanna shoot something near me....that's cool. I'll bring a book.
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