My passion is mentoring. I’ve mentored a group of eight guys around my dining room table every year since 2001 (I’ll save you the quick math, that’s 144 guys).
These mentoring groups lead me to start Radical Mentoring, a non-profit that encourages and equips mentors and churches to build disciple-makers and leaders through small group mentoring.
One of the things I’ve learned about mentoring is that guys respond when you’re vulnerable and transparent. When you share not only the stuff you did right but stuff you screwed up. The guys I mentor will make mistakes, but hopefully, they can at least avoid the ones I’ve made.
But that requires a willingness on the part of the mentor to look back and examine your experience, to think about how you could have done things differently.
As I look back to my earliest days of fatherhood, I failed in some areas, ones that I see commonly repeated among fathers. Here are five of the biggest. Biblical fatherhood knows how to overcome these failures. Hopefully, they provide a timely reminder as you raise your kids:
Father Failure #1: Not praying out loud
Kids are always watching, and they follow our lead. What we do, they do. Even into adulthood. If all they ever see of dad praying is a ‘canned’ prayer before dinner, then that is all they may ever know to do. But if we pray from our hearts in a vulnerable, honest and intimate way, there is hope our children will follow in our footsteps. That they will authentically lean on Jesus and not be ashamed.
Kids are always watching, and they follow our lead. What we do, they do.
Father Failure #2: Not showing love for their mom in front of them
The best way to make your kids feel safe and loved is to love their mother. Openly. Kiss her in front of them, hug her, hold her hand and don’t flinch when your kids say “eww, gross!” because secretly they are grateful to know they live in a stable home. Be a godly husband and don’t let your kids become another statistic because you were too shy to show affection for your wife in front of them.
Living with failure as a dad?
You don’t have to live in your past failure or walk around with regret. Grab the Field Guide Removing Doubt: How to Overcome Failure and Regret as a Dad.
Father Failure #3: Flying soloThis may be one of the hardest things to change as a man and father. Your family cannot be your only source of friendship and community. Good men need other good men. Our pride, ego, and shame would tell us otherwise and keep us confined in solitude forever. Do not fly solo as I did early on. There’s no better way to get picked off by the enemy. Men are naturally inclined to do things alone. It takes intentional effort to build community, but you’ll be a better man for it. Check out Radical Mentoring for help here. Also, Kent wrote Wise Guys for this purpose—hello!
Good men need other good men.
Father Failure #4: Not having ‘the talk’
Your kids need you. They want to learn from you, but you cannot wait for them to come to you about everything. Approach your kids about sex and sexuality when the time is right. It’ll be awkward and unnatural, but if you plan your approach, you will be ok. If you can spend hours and hours doing research and preparation for work, doesn’t preserving your children’s sexuality warrant the same effort? Culture Wars is the Field Guide to help you speak into your child's life in an intentional way as well.
Father Failure #5: Trying to be extraordinary
Your kids don’t need you to be the best dad ever. They need you to be you. You've made mistakes in the past—don't point your kids to you—point them to God. Use Making Lemonade to help you do this well. You don’t become famous by wanting and desiring fame. You become famous because you give every ounce of your energy into being good at something. The accolades come because you left nothing in the tank. Put the same with your kids. John Woodall calls it “3x.” Put three times as much effort into your kids as you think is required before puberty. You can’t ‘over-invest.’
All fathers have issues, but we can make progress by submitting ourselves totally to our Heavenly Father—by seeking His guidance and then obeying, by offering our kids up to Him and avoiding at least these five father failures.
Question: What about you? Where can you improve? Did any of these hit home? Do other failures come to mind?
Living with regret as a dad? Don't! Stop!We wrote the Field Guide called Removing Doubt: How to Overcome Failure and Regret as a Dad so can learn to find freedom, overcome failure and lead without regret.
Regi Campbell is an experienced investor and entrepreneur by trade. But his real passion is mentoring younger men. In 2007, Regi founded Radical Mentoring to help encourage and equip mentors and churches to launch mentoring groups. He has written four books: About My Father’s Business, Mentor Like Jesus, What Radical Husbands Do, and Radical Wisdom. Regi currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife of 47 years, Miriam.
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