It’s amazing watching Kasen grow up. It seems he does something new all the time. I never imagined that I’d ever find myself lying on the floor cheering for someone to roll over, but. . .it’s me. . .I’m that guy! I try to celebrate it all. This past week, he’s been rolling over more and more often – from his tummy to his back and from his back to his tummy. He even passed a little toy from one hand to the other and back again this week, but the biggest news: Can I hear a drumroll???. . . . . . . ………Kasen slept through the night in his crib all week long. 8:30pm ’til 7:30am – 11 hours!
Thank you God for my incredible son. I’m amazed every time he looks into my eyes. He actually cringes at the joy that rushes through his veins when he smiles in those moments. How could I deserve such an honor? Thank you God! How can I live my life “smiling” like that at You? Lord, hold Kasen closely. Keep him healthy. Show Miranda and I how to be great parents and raise him in ways that honor You. Lord, I’m praying for Kasens health and that he comes to know You one day, but I’m gonna ask even more. Lord use him. Grow him into the kind of man who You can use to glorify Your name! AMEN.
The other night in class we were talking about how a leader’s identity effects how he leads. How we view ourselves makes a difference. As a new father, this subject really jumped out at me. Dr. Ayers showed us a quote by Nathaniel Brandon, “In considering the many parental messages that may have a detrimental effect on a child’s self-esteem, there is probably none I encounter more than some version of “You are not enough”. . . The tragedy of many people’s lives is that in accepting the verdict that they are not enough, they may spend years exhausting themselves in pursuit of the Holy Grail of enoughness.”
When he showed it to us, I couldn’t help but think about my own son, Kasen, and I wondered how I would communicate his enoughness to him. How could I communicate his value and worth? How could I show him that God Himself thinks he’s worth dying for? I was reminded of something I read in “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge. Here’s the excerpt I thought about:
A Man’s Deepest Question
On a warm August afternoon several years ago my boys and I were rock climbing in a place called the Garden of the Gods, near our home. The red sandstone spires there look like the dorsal fins of some great beast that has just surfaced from the basement of time. We all love to climb, and our love for it goes beyond the adventure. There’s something about facing a wall of rock, accepting its challenge and mastering it that calls you out, tests and affirms what you are made of. Besides, the boys are going to climb anyway – the refrigerator, the banister, the neighbor’s grape arbor – so we might as well take it outside. And it’s an excuse to buy some really cool gear. Anyway, when I climb with the boys we always top-rope, meaning that before the ascent I’ll rig protection from the top of the rock down, enabling me to belay from the bottom. That way I can coach them as they go, see their every move, help them through the tough spots. Sam was the first to climb that afternoon, and after he clipped the rope to his harness, he began his attempt.
Things were going well until he hit a bit of an overhang, which even though you’re roped in makes you feel exposed and more than a little vulnerable. Sam was unable to get over it and he began to get more and more scared the longer he hung there; tears were soon to follow. So with gentle reassurance I told him to head back down, that we didn’t need to climb this rock today, that I knew of another one that might be more fun. “No,” he said, “I want to do this.” I understood. There comes a time when we simply have to face the challenges in our lives and stop backing down. So I helped him up the overhang with a bit of a boost, and on he went with greater speed and confidence. “Way to go Sam! You’re looking good. That’s it. . . now reach up to your right. . . yep, now push off that foothold. . . nice move.”
Notice what a crucial part of any male sport this sort of “shop talk” is. It’s our way of affirming each other without looking like we’re affirming. Men rarely praise each other directly, as women do: “Ted, I absolutely love your shorts. You look terrific today.” We praise indirectly, by way of our accomplishments: “Whoa, nice shot, Ted. You’ve got a wicked swing today.” As Sam ascended, I was offering words of advise and exhortation. He came to another challenging spot, but this time sailed right over it. A few more moves and he would be at the top. “Way to go, Sam. You’re a wild man.” He finished the climb, and as he walked down from the back side, I began to get Blaine clipped in. Ten or fifteen minutes passed, and the story was forgotten to me. But not Sam. While I was coaching his brother up the rock, Sam sort of sidled up to me and in a quiet voice asked, “Dad. . . did you really think I was a wild man up there?”
Miss that moment and you’ll miss a boys heart forever. It’s not a question – it’s the question, the one every boy and man is longing to ask. Do I have what it takes? Am I powerful? Until a man knows he’s a man he will forever be trying to prove he is one, while at the same time shrink from anything that might reveal he is not. Most men live their lives haunted by the question, or crippled by the answer they’ve been given.
When will this moment come for Kasen? Will I recognize it? Will there be lots of opportunities? What kinds of activities can I be involved in with him that would bring out these opportunities? (I’m pretty sure I’m not a rock climber – of course it does sound fun, but. . .)
As a youth minister, I recognize this question being asked. I have even had the opportunity to give the answer sometimes (although I wish their own father could have been the one to give it). My job as a leader is to equip others to serve and that means delving into the character questions – into the identity of those I work with. What a huge task. . . what an incredible privilege. . . what an amazing opportunity. . . Thank you God for allowing me to be a part of Your work!!
Sunday, I started a new leadership course. I’m not sure how I’ll be graded or even what is required, but I do know that this class will continue for the rest of my life. It’s not one that I can spend a few hours on each week either – it’ll require total commitment. The class I’m referring to of course is fatherhood. Kasen was born Sunday night and so I’ve begun this new journey. It’s much more than a leadership class, but that will be at least part of it.
He taught me how to play baseball. (I’m actually left-handed, but play the way he taught me – right-handed.) He coached my little league teams in football, t-ball, and baseball. He read stories to my brother and I at bedtime. (That’s me on the left with the dark hair.) He showed me how to “play” and that adults could “play” too. He laughed alot and showed me how. He taught me how to do woodworking stuff. He taught me that families need to do long road trips together.
He taught me so much more, but you know. . . . .as I think about it, I realize that it’s not so much the outward things he taught me or did for me that I’m most grateful for. I’m most grateful for the example that he gave me – for his character. My dad taught me about God – not by talking about Him, but by loving me unconditionally. As he shouted and cheered for me on the football field, I understood how much God loved me and cheered for me. He showed me forgiveness and I learned about being childlike (as Christ calls us) by watching him play with my friends and laugh with us. I’ll probably never understand the depths of my dad’s influence on me and on my perception/understanding of God. My dad truly led me, but most people who knew him probably wouldn’t have called him a leader. He led out of his character and through his relationship with us. His leadership is evidenced in all three of his children. My brother, sister, and I, all work with kids and love serving God by guiding and leading/influencing others. I pray that I can be like him. I want to lead others to know God not just with my words, but by the way I live.
This new class I’ve started is one that millions of men have registered for throughout the centuries. It’s probably the biggest opportunity to influence a life that any of us will ever have. I wish the world recognized it’s importance – too many men have failed. I want to be a man who does not fail – one who truly places this leadership role as a priority.
Prayer: Lord, show me how to “be” – Who to “be” – and give me strength/courage/and whatever I’ll need to “be” what you’ve called me to “be” in this role as “leader” of my family and child. PS – thank you for the incredible blessing of Kasen! Cover him with Yourself. Protect him from evil. Guide Him to a knowledge of Your son Jesus Christ. Allow me to be a consistent presence in his life that represents You to him. Bring other people into his life who will lead him to a deeper/saving relationship with You. AMEN!
PS – I had an incredible experience this weekend as Kasen was born. I cried tears of joy over and over. The one thing I cried sad tears about was that this experience made me remember my dad again. (He died of leukemia.) I thought about things I haven’t thought about for years and wished he could have been there with us. I wish he could look into Kasen’s eyes, and I wish he could play football with him and read stories to him and roll around in the front yard being silly with him. I guess this is God’s way of saying to me that I should be intentional about doing those things. I can’t imagine that anyone ever gets to the end of their life and regrets the time they spent playing with their children – I certainly won’t – I will play just like my dad. (Doesn’t that make you smile? I know it makes dad smile, and I’d be willing to bet that it makes God smile too.)