Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sons in their Father's presence

Check out the picture on the left, that's me in my soccer picture at age 7. The picture on the right is my son AJ in his soccer picture at the same age (last year).

Tonight I came close to being one of those colossal jerk dads who get mad at their child for not performing well on the soccer field (or whatever field you use to live vicariously through your child).

I dropped AJ off for his practice then drove quickly to Dick's Sporting goods to get him a pair of cleats that fit properly. Last week, before his first practice, he was complaining that his "school" shoes were too tight, so I got him cleats a size bigger than his school shoes. They were too big. I didn't notice until tonight when I tightened them up before practice and could feel a huge space between his big toe and the end of the shoe. The poor kid was tripping on himself. So I ran to Dick's to get him a pair that will fit before his game on Saturday.

When I returned to catch the last part of his practice, I noticed he wasn't hustling as much as I'd like to see him hustle. I had this little twinge of frustration with his half-hearted demeanor. I could tell the clod-hopper's he was wearing, thanks to me, were bothering him, but still, when you lose the ball- get it back for crying out loud! I played soccer my whole life up through college and have coached for many years since. I realize the potential to be a real jerk to my boys trying to make them in to the next Ronaldinho (if you don't know who he is, I pity you).

So, as I stood there thinking of how I would verbally scold him for his lack of effort and concentration, I was flooded with reminders of promises I have repeatedly made to not cause my son to shrink at my presence but rather welcome me with confidence and security. I have to tell you, it's tough and I don't always succeed.

I'm reminded of a precious passage in 1 John-

1 John 2:28-29 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

Because of my standing in Christ and my personal relationship with Him (abiding in Him), I need not shrink away from God, but rather I can welcome being in His presence with confidence and security. I need not be sheepish, ashamed, or scared. God has not verbally mauled or abused me, instead, He gave His own Son for me. The more time I spend with Him, the more comfortable I get in His presence.

Right after college I was a volunteer youth leader at our church. There was a particular father and a son who I was close with. For several years the father didn’t spend much time with his son as he was always busy. The son got in to trouble at school and called me to help him. I immediately asked if he had told his father about his trouble. The son told me he was scared of his father. He was scared of his father because he hardly knew him. They spent no time together and therefore did not have a good relationship. It was sad how this son could not approach his father with confidence. I was able to talk with the father and tell him that I thought he needed to spend more time with his son. The father adjusted his schedule to spend more time with his son. Their relationship began to improve greatly.

My observation is this- the more time the father and the son spent together, the more they grew to know each other. For the son, he grew to understand his father’s love for him. He grew secure in his father’s acceptance of him and love for him. At one time, not really knowing his father well, he was terrified at confessing his faults and shortcomings to his father. Now, with a new connection having been established, he was open and transparent with his dad. In fact, he had fewer instances where reprimand was needed.

Bottom line-I can approach my Father in heaven with confidence because Jesus Christ has given me access to Him! Secondarily, and back to my son and me- I really believe his concept of God is heavily shaped by our relationship. If I make it a practice of shaming, scolding, and castigating him when he screws up, what will that do to his concept of His heavenly father?

But, what about all my mess-ups? I've thought allot about that since I'm no expert on fathering. I think my mess-ups (a.k.a SINS) against him and my other boys can be used by God to help them in their spiritual formation so long as I demonstrate honesty, confession, and repentance when I blow it. I've had to ask my boys to forgive me on several occasions. Here's the key as I see it- I can't just ask their forgiveness and go on repeating the cycle of sin- I have also asked them to help hold me accountable to not continue repeating these sins. It's a powerful thing when your 8 year old becomes an agent of sanctification in your life by holding you accountable to not sin! Of course, I also commit to doing the same for them.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes- I came real close to a major mess up with my boy tonight. Instead, after a few pivotal moments when he came off the field, the Lord allowed me to calmly challenge him to work harder at the next practice, etc, etc on the ride home.

He probably won't be the next Ronaldihno, but he's a great boy who ought never shrink in my presence.


Kampfgruppe Hoppa said...

Great insight Pastor T. I have often wanted my children to be the best (successful) at school, sports, etc (fill in the blank). I usually define success in terms of how society defines success. We certainly want our children to be successful. However, I've often found myself being overly critical of their performance and have instead pushed them away from something that they really enjoyed doing. What I really want them to be "successful" at is a committed relationship with Christ- glorifying and enjoying Him forever. I also want them to be able to come to me and never feel scared or threatened. That is success!

Anonymous said...

Being over critical of your kids activities, sports, school, cleanliness this all leads to the child believing that nothing they do is ever good enough, no matter how hard they try, dad will still not be happy. They then equate this to having to earn love because the only time they receive praise is when they perform "up to par" according to their fathers standard. This then equates to them believing that God is the same way, thinking they have to earn his love, believing nothing is ever good enough, they can never be completely convinced that God loves them and accepts them the way they are. They need to earn their salvation by hopefully being perfect but hopelessly falling short all the time.

Frontier Forest said...

O’, If we could only have “do-overs” with our children? I am one who is on the other end of the “sin-stick,” and still can’t completely shake the remorse of my past. When my kids were in the prime of their youth, I lived each day with unquenchable zeal for the Lord. That part was very good. But as I look back … all of my vain efforts towards 24 hour evangelism, thrusting a copy of the “4-Spiritual Laws” into the hands of every person I came in contact with was pure “wood, hey and stubble”. (Sure glad God has a great sense of humor!) Most of my Christian growth came from studying the Word on my own, or listening to some holleren’ radio evangelist like R.W. Shambock or the heretical founders of the “Word of Faith” movement, the 2 Kenneth’s, Haggin and Copeland.
Therefore, as an immature believer, living a terribly wrong interpretation of Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of HIS might”, I thought my duty as a Christian father meant more “lordship” than leadership. So I played the roll, thinking my heavenly Father would bless me in spite of such misguided authority. (Do a Biblical word study on “sins of Presumption” and see what you come up with.)
Since I was never good in any sports, I seized every opportunity of overcoming my own failures through pushing my ideas of success on my kids. I was one of those idiot parents Pastor Tony referred to. What a witness I wasn’t! And how I embarrassed and humiliated my 2 precious kids on the soccer field.
I know all of my many sins of the past are forever covered by the blood of Christ, but I still pay the consequences of the agony and pain from remembering!

My kids are grown and have children of their own. I praise the Lord every day, for God has given me “do-overs” with 8 precious grandkids.