As an avid gardener, I am usually concerned about the health of my plants. Am I giving them the right nutrients? Is the plant pot bound and needs to be moved into a different one? Do they need pruning?
My neighbor has a very prolific lime tree. Yet, each year, the limes got smaller and smaller and did not produce much juice. I examined the tree and noticed a lot of dead branches all over the tree.
In Genesis 3:6, God asks this question of Adam. I do not believe that He asked because He did not know where Adam was, but rather to bring Adam to a confession of his current state. It is in the acknowledging of your current state that you can identify what needs to be groomed, pruned or fixed. Generally speaking, we have held men in such bondage that they are unable to admit a fault, to say they are sorry, to cry, etc., because in the eyes of society – they are not real men if they do these things.
I have spent most of my life trying to change myself. Maybe it was the voice of condemnation that I grew up with or maybe the small, well-intentioned Baptist church I grew up in. Could it be because I looked to others to define myself, or how I hung my identity on their thoughts of me? All in all, I had been convinced that I was not enough. I was not enough for those closest to me, and I was not enough to receive God’s love and blessing. I know, it sounds a little crazy. Sometimes even now I wake up thinking about how to win, to embrace the peace and love my heart so desperately needs. I did it all. I memorized scripture, attended prayer meetings, and I even lead worship. All of this coupled with dedicating my actual life and vocation to His Kingdom.
Welcome to 2017! I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. As a matter of fact, my standard resolution is not to make any. How’s that for a resolution?
However, as I watch my two children, who are 5 and 2, get a little bit bigger and a little bit older each year, I keep having this thought in my mind that there is more I could be doing as a dad. Other than my wife, my kids are the most important thing for me. But does my time or attitude when I am with them reflect that? Or do I act like they are more of an inconvenience, always shuffling them in their mother’s direction?
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So, after some careful consideration and a hard look at how I spent time with my kids in 2016, I have come up with four resolutions I would like to follow in an attempt to be a UNCOMMEN Dad for 2017. Please note that in no way am I trying to tell you what you should do or how you should raise your kids, but I hope this encourages you to set some resolutions of your own. The following is solely from the heart and mind of an average dad:
Ten Extra Minutes a Day: We all wish we could spend more time with our kids. However, we also have a lot of other obligations pulling on us, constantly. Long work days and sometimes even longer work weeks of providing for our families leave many of us too exhausted at the end of the day to find that extra time that we should be investing in our kids. I have committed to giving the ten minutes of when I first get home to my kids. It’s easy to say “no” to looking at their school artwork or even roughhousing with them. A simple daily commitment on workdays can add up to an approximate 2,400 minutes, or just over 40 hours of extra time with your kids each year. And that 40 hours each year will change your child’s life forever.
Play board/card games with your kids: One of my biggest regrets so far as a dad is not taking the time to play more board games with my kids. As I look back, some of my favorite memories with my dad were playing classic games like Clue, Monopoly, Sorry or Crazy Eights. Playing games teaches kids strategy, competition, handling winning & losing and on top of that, it creates a bond with your children. I always looked forward to playing games with my dad growing up.
Teach them about the meaning of life: By far the greatest responsibility I have as a father is to ensure my children are raised with the same spiritual principles that I believe in. I want to be sure and confident they know what I believe regarding my faith, however not overly convinced that I assume they know what I know and don’t need to be reminded of that. They say they early years are the most impressionable. In fact, most kids make a faith decision before they are 18. It’s important that you spend regular time seeking out moments to discuss the meaning and purpose of life.
Make sure they know mom is #1 in my life: My wife and I rarely argue in front of our kids. We have made an adamant attempt never to raise our voices at each other in front of our little ones. There are plenty of other things my son and daughter need to see me do on a daily basis for their mother. While I am going to commit to spending my first 10 minutes home with the kids, my first action when I get home regardless of what happened that day, is to kiss and hug my wife and make sure my kids see it. Sure it will embarrass them when they get older. But I want my kids to grow up seeing their dad hug and kiss their mom, tell her that he loves her, tell her that he thinks she is the most beautiful woman in the world and pray for her. If my kids grow up knowing their spouse is the most important earthly relationship in their life and invest themselves in that commitment, I will consider my parenting a huge success.
So these are my resolutions. What are yours? Feel free to comment below either on the blog or Facebook. Here’s your Challenge: Write Down your Dad Resolutions for 2017. Share them with your spouse or close friend to keep you accountable this year. We can all use more ideas to be UNCOMMEN Dads in 2017.
About the Author: Sam Casey is the Managing Partner at Banyan Creative based in Matthews, NC. He is breaking his tradition of making no resolutions, to make a few resolutions to be a better dad in 2017.