A few months ago I felt God prompt me to get away with my boys for the weekend. So this past weekend the four of us went to Father/Son camp in Indiana through an organization called Mission Uprising. We had a blast.
But God used the weekend to expose some things in me and some things in my relationship with my boys that need my attention.
So today, I come to you not as an expert, but as a student. I’m not sharing with you things I learned a few years ago and have mastered. I’m sharing with you things God spoke into me this weekend that rocked my world and are challenging my heart.
The most important thing we can give our kids is TIME.
Time is our most precious resource. It is precious because it doesn’t stop and we can’t get it back. Once it is gone it’s gone. I realized that truth this weekend as I looked at my almost seventeen year-old son, my fourteen year-old son and my ten year-old son and thought, “Where did time go?”
Here are four things God is teaching me about fatherhood, relationships and my relationship with my boys.
1. My kids need my time more than they need stuff.
I’ve often equated my success as a father by the stuff I can give my kids. The house we live in; the clothes they have; the activities or camps they’ve been involved with. I have seen providing as fathering. This weekend, one of the activities we did discussing one question, “What is one thing you need from me as your dad?” Not one of them said, “More stuff.” All three of them in their own way said, “More time with you.” I need to relearn what success looks like as a father.
2. My kids need my time more than they need to be time stamped.
My kids have their Instagram or Facebook picture face down. They know how to pose. They know how to stop arguing so we can show the world how much we love each other. My kids also know the difference between taking a picture to mark the moment and taking a picture to make a moment. One is authentic the other is fabricated. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with Instagraming or Facebooking pics of your kids. I did it several times this weekend. But I can often be more present online than I am in real life with my boys and that is what I want to be aware of and change.
3. I can teach crowds about Jesus from a stage but my kids learn about Him as I invest in their lives one on one.
I speak and teach about Jesus for a living. My kids see me on a stage often talking about Jesus. But what they need most and what I want to do most for them is take the time one on one to share Jesus with them. I want them to see me live out my love for Jesus, not just speak about Him. That can only happen as I get off the stage and get eye to eye, face to face, knee to knee with my boys and invest in them.
4. Being together doesn’t equal time together.
I’ve learned this principle over the past few months as Trish and I have been together a lot. We work from our home office together. We have traveled a lot together, but it doesn’t equal quality time together. The same is true with my kids. Time together is what they crave and I’ve often equated being together with investment. Sharing the same space at the same time doesn’t mean we are sharing our hearts with one another. I want to grow in this area.
Life is busy and hard and there is no instruction manual for parenting. You can read books and go to conferences and watch instructional videos, but nothing prepares you for the challenge of raising kids.
But what I am learning, almost seventeen years into this adventure is that nothing replaces time. It is the most precious, most desirable and most important thing you can give your kids.