Last week, after putting the kids to bed, Cheyenne and I had some downtime. We decided to try and find something to watch on tv as we “vegged out” before heading to bed ourselves. It wasn’t long until we stumbled across the first Marvel “Avengers” movie and committed for the long haul. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen that movie, but it’s just as good every time I watch it. What can I say? I just love a good super hero movie. In fact, as I scroll through my DVR, I realize it’s made up mostly of super hero movies. Before you judge me, check your own DVR! I believe the world we live in today is going through something I would call “Super Hero Mania”. We see a new super hero movie comes out every 6 months or so with record box office totals, beating the last super hero box office blowout. In fact, as I write this we recently experienced “The Black Panther” topping the charts, only to be surpassed a few months later by “Avengers: Infinity War”.
Everybody loves a super hero. Everybody wants to be a super hero.
But, I wonder, what effect has this super hero mania had on the culture around us? Specifically, around this Father’s Day, what impact has super hero mania had on our dads? In some respects, I think it has set the bar incredibly high for all dads. How are we supposed to compete with the super hero standard that our kids encounter in our society? After all, I’m not super strong, super fast, or super smart…no matter what I tell my kids. I’m not super kind, super patient, super…anything. If I’m honest, I fail at being the hero for my kids every day if I measure who I’m supposed to be for them according to some “super hero standard”. But, here’s the good news dads. What our kids want and need for us to be, is actually NOT the super hero from the movies.
Here are 3 ways you can be the “hero” dad your children need.
1. “Hero” Dads are Unconditionally Loving.
In Romans 8:35-39 to tell us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The reality is that there is literally nothing we could ever do to make God love us any more or any less. No mistake, no screwup, no sin, could ever make God stop loving you with his unconditional love. You can’t earn it. You can’t lose it. Kids mess up. ALOT! I know this all too well because I once was one. I remember a time when I was in Jr. High. I had drawn a crude picture and thinking it would be funny, I handed it to my friend in class. He, thinking it would be funny, handed it to my teacher. She did not think it was so funny. I soon found myself suspended for several days. I was so embarrassed! But I can guarantee that my parents were embarrassed even more so. What do I recall from that event? My parents didn’t beat me up, scold me, or shame me. Yes, there were consequences to my actions, and I was disciplined thoroughly. But, the thing I remember most is their unconditional love for me despite my HUGE screw up.
Dad, is your home a “safe place” to fail?
Our homes need to be a place where FAILURE isn’t FATAL.
Our homes need to be a place where our kids can learn to forgive and be forgiven as they move on in the grace and forgiveness of a heavenly Father who’s love for them will never change. Unconditional love is “without condition”, “without exception”. Do you model this same unconditional love of God through your actions to your children? Do your kids know without a shadow of doubt that no matter what they do or don’t do, that they can’t lose your love? Don’t waste another moment. Tell your kids this often, and show it by your actions.
2. “Hero” Dads are Consistently Present.
As a pastor, most conversations I have with people in public seem to turn spiritual in nature. I have found, as many of you, that one of the most common grievances about God I hear centers around the questioning of God’s presence. Many cry out in their deep need, “God, where are you?”. Their natural conclusion being that if God doesn’t seem present, then God must not care. God must not love. There is a natural inclination in us all to believe that presence = love. This realty is reflected in the heart of each child. When dad is not present (physically, emotionally, or relationally), their natural conclusion is that, “dad must not care… Dad must not love me.” Dads, how present are you with your children? Do you find yourself absent or too busy the majority of the time? Have you discovered yourself being in the room physically with your kids or family, but checked out mentally and emotionally? A few days ago Cheyenne and I were having a conversation at the dinner table while eating with our kids. I had used the word “disengaged” to describe a person’s demeanor. Obviously my kids were listening in, because after I finished Madi asked, “Dad, what does ‘disengaged’ mean?”. I had my phone sitting next to me, like I always do, so I put it up to my ear and said, “Madi, it’s like when you are trying to get someone’s attention, but they are on their phone and don’t pay attention to what you are saying. That means they are ‘disengaged’.” Madi thought about it for a second and fired back, “So daddy, next time you’re on your phone and not paying attention to me I’ll just say, ‘Daddy Disengage!”.OUCH! Point heard loud and clear.
Dad, your PRESENCE might just be the greatest PRESENT you can ever give your child.
When I come home from work, or a meeting, or anything else, it doesn’t matter if I’ve been gone 5 minutes or 5 hours, I get the warmest reception from my kids. As I crack open the back door, the kids hear it, and come running as fast as they can screaming, “daddy, daddy, daddy!”. They hug my legs, grab my arms, give me kisses, and drag me around to show me everything they did that day. They don’t come running because I brought gifts home for them. My PRESENCE is the gift they seek. Dad, give the gift of your presence to your kids today. Shut off the phone. Come home early. Plan something just for them.
3. Hero Dads Courageously Follow Jesus.
As Jesus was leaving to return to his Father in Heaven, he commissioned the Apostles to go and make disciples of all nations. The book of Acts records the effort of the Apostles as they took the good news of Jesus to the far places. Peter and John gathered crowds as they preached the good news of Jesus in the streets of Jerusalem. Yes, the apostles’ message is what’s important for us to understand, but don’t miss what the crowds said about the apostles. Acts 4:13 says, “When they say the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”
It may be the Super Heroes that save the day in the movies, but it’s the Average Joes that God has chosen to change the world.
Peter and John were “unschooled, ordinary men”. In fact, to put it bluntly, these apostles of Jesus were Pharisaical flunkies! As young boys or teenagers they didn’t find themselves in the top of their class and were rejected as candidates to become Jewish Sadducees or Pharisees. So they had to fall back to the family fishing business to make a living. Yet, these rejects were exactly who Jesus chose to invest his time in. Why? Because the Kingdom of God is about who HE is, not who WE are. It’s about what Jesus has done and is doing, not about our personal achievements or accolades. In fact. The Bible’s Hall of Heroes is full of average joes like you and me; the misfits, leftovers, screwups who’s failures didnt prove to be fatal. Here’s just a few:
- Adam – was a blame shifter who failed to lead his wife.
- Noah – was a drunk.
- Abraham – gave his wife away to other men on two different occasions.
- Moses – was a stutterer and a hot head.
- Aaron – Moses’ brother, led the Israelites in making and worshiping a false idol, just weeks after God rescued them from Egypt.
- Saul – the first king of Israel, was psychotic and full of vengeance.
- David – the giant slayer and chosen king of Israel, a man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and a murderer to cover it up.
- Solomon – the son of David and wisest man to ever live, was a womanizer.
- Jonah – a prophet of God, rejected his mission and ran from God.
- Peter – denied Christ 3 times.
- The Disciples – fell asleep while praying and hid as Jesus was being persecuted and crucified.
- Mark – deserted Paul on his missionary journeys.
- Paul – was a murderer.
Every single one of these men were FAILURES by the world’s standards, but HEROES in the hands of God.
Hero dads don’t need an “S” on their chest, but a “Savior” in their hearts.
Dads, the most important thing you can do for your kids is courageously follow Jesus. When you spend time with Jesus, your kids will take notice, just like the people who encountered Peter and John. Here’s the application: Dads, do you want to be the hero your kids deserve? Then spend time with the ultimate hero maker, Jesus.
Here’s a few places to start:
- Spend time with God daily. (suggestion…download the Bible App and find a reading plan to begin today)
- Start attending a church and commit to being involved in a body of believers that can encourage and support you.
- Pray with your kids daily. (suggestion…breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime are natural breaks that are perfect to start praying short prayers with your kids)
Peter and John’s message was simple, Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
It all starts with Jesus.