Thursday, June 7, 2012

What Can a Father do? Reflections on Camping and Leading a Family

Mid April my son and I went on a camping trip with two friends from college and their sons. In fact these guys were most likely my two closest friends in college, partly because we shared almost every class together, but even more so because of an important Bible study the three of us experienced mid-way through college. The spiritual curing that occurred while working through the book Disciplines of a Godly Man cemented our friendship in some momentous ways.

Three Young Graduates

Better looking with age...

For the past few years we've tried to connect at least once a year and bring our boys along both to sharpen ourselves spiritually but also for our boys to be around other men we respect and admire. Not that they admire me, but I’m sure they would both like for my son to grow up to be just like them (and I would too… well, in some ways). It’s always a struggle to pull off the event – between three young families there are a million legitimate reasons to cancel every year - but it is always worth it once we arrive.

What was particularly interesting to me this year was the amount of time we spent talking about faith. It's always an important part of the conversation between us but this time the focus of our conversation was especially heavy on the need for fathers to lead well in their homes. More specifically, the need for fathers to have other men both to train and encourage them, and the importance of the role of the church in equipping men to lead in their homes.

Some things never change
One of the men said that he recently approached his pastor, who is pastor of a VERY large church with MANY thousands of attenders, and he asked him, “Can you connect me with one man - just one man - who can help give me the encouragement and training to lead my family well spiritually?”

Said pastor paused, thought for a moment, and as he thought, his face began gathering at the edges, like a trash bag drawstring being slowly tugged to closure. What began as a relaxed state of thoughtful contemplation eventually puckered to a point of frustration. Presently his point of contention was revealed [I paraphrase] “I’m angry that I can only think of two men for the job, and both are already tapped out. This angers me because there should be more. Out of the thousands of men in this church, there should be more.”

My friend came away from that meeting with a renewed burden to see more men equipped in this area. Because of all the priorities to which a church can give attention, I would argue there is no other that would have a greater effect on the health of the church as the training, equipping, and encouraging of fathers to lead their families well spiritually.  

Now in the church's defense, most pastors would say this is being accomplished at some level through sermons and Bible studies. And there is definitely equipping occurring during that time. But I think most any pastor would readily agree there is much work to be done. 

So the question these two guys wrestled with and continued to bring up was: “So what can we do?” “What can we do personally within our church to help elevate this issue to a top priority for pastors and today?”

We talked about a wide array of problem areas; from the church structure to personal commitments. we also discussed tools and resources a family can use on their own, whether or not their church has a formal approach.

Near the end of the trip, we all looked at our boys and talked about the reality that we have about 10 years until they're ready to launch into adulthood. It was 20 years ago when we first met in college. It has gone so fast. What will our lives look like 10 years from now? What will our boys look like 10 years from now? What will we have done differently? That’s ½ the time since first meeting, and yet it seems so recent. The time is fleeting.

No, there wasn't a couch at the campsite. It's a 'cabin.'

Making fashion statements... and taking notes (?)
Ephesians 5:15-16 was pressed heavily upon our hearts: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” And I would add that the days are “fleeting.” We must pray for and have a sense of renewed intentionality and vigor to use these years well.

Driving home and reflecting on our weekend together, these conversations helped me to think more intentionally about the way this blog can serve men who have a similar burden. For the last few months our family has focused on developing these kinds of resources, and I plan to begin sharing more of these through this blog. 


John and Pam Majors said...

I am so glad you have continued to have this fellowship together. What a wonderful blessing to be encouraging each other and all your boys. Great fun memories too:)

MaJenDome said...

Nice post.