Most of us dads are busy. I get it. Our sin is busyness. Said a different way—our sin might be workaholism. Here's the deal: Regardless of busyness, you are the shepherd for your family. Many will tell you, "You're good enough, you're smart enough, and darn it, people like you." I'm not here for that.
"As a shepherd, I don't get to simply lead the sheep. I bind the wounds of the sheep. I take care of the sheep." —Dr. Tim Pasma
The gospel truth is: you aren't good enough, you aren't smart enough and people won't like you.
You need God's help. Getting at these seven types of dads will help us grow and change so we lead families who grow and change. I've learned most about this topic from Dr. Tim Pasma (Pastor at LaRue Baptist Church and one of my biblical counseling professors). This post comes from his lectures on idols of the heart and workaholism. I've distilled his lectures down to dads. Thank me later.
Now, us church dads know our sinful heart drives our sinful behavior. Any behavior you see on the outside—has to do with the inside—the heart. James 1:13-15 says "each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death".
Desire is at the root of all sin. Our goal then is to change the heart so we change behavior. How? By establishing biblical priorities and implementing biblical principles. Biblical fatherhood knows these priorities and the principles.
Here are seven (7) types of busy dads and the idols of their hearts:
#1 Mr. Able (Idol = Greed).
This dad wants to buy and own expensive luxury items. Think large boats, more houses and so on. Before you draft an email to me—hear me out. There's nothing wrong with having money and having fun with your money. But what are we teaching our children when it comes to selfishness and greed?
Tedd Tripp talks in Shepherding a Child's Heart about the "fight over a toy" among siblings. He begs us to ask ourselves as parents whether it's simply a "fight over a toy"? Or is it failure to prefer others over self? Is it selfishness?
Tripp goes on:
Do you tend to see your children's greedy "I wants" as the idolatry of possessions? Or do you think that it is simply natural—something that will be outgrown? If so, you will fail to help your children grapple with spiritual reality. You will never confront the sinful tendency to find meaning and significance in things. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
Can you have money? Sure thing. Great on you. You're blessed. Save and spend, brother, spend and save. But what does giving look like in your life? Better yet, what does sacrificial giving look like for you? If you reflect and find your hearts' desire is to have a sixth and larger boat—when you ain't in the boat-shipping business—well, that's interesting, based on this verse:
Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share,19 storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
#2 Mr. Baxter (Idol = Fear and worry about the future).
This dad is tad different than Mr. Greed. This dad may not want rich things, but he's afraid of financial loss and unsure about the future. He's usually the over-saver. It's a thing. Maybe you didn't have possessions growing and now that you have some—you ain't givin' them up! You save so much you never give. You hold on to your possessions in fear and worry. Congratulations, this makes you a sinner like Richy Rich Dad in #1.
“Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? ...32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
#3 Mr. Dean (Idol = Reputation/Pride/Status).
You know this dad. This dad wants neighbors and community to view him highly—but inside of the house is usually a different story. This dad seems awesome on the outside. Everyone who doesn't live with him would think he's the best dude ever. But if his wife and kids were honest with you—a different tune would be played.
This one gets at motivation too. Honestly, even if people in your own house think too highly of you—it may speak to your efforts to play God and be the hero—instead of point your family to God. Go ahead and email me on this one!
It's not that having your neighbors and community think highly of you is a bad thing. But, at what expense and how major and life-changing are their opinions to you? There is a works versus grace mentality going on here. Are you doing the "right things" for people and their view of you? Or, are you serving Christ and not living for people all that much? One of these ways is better than the other! I have to ask: which dad are you? Let's seek humility over the sin of pride.
For I have no one else like-minded who will genuinely care about your interests; 21 all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
#4 Mr. Eric (Idol = Escape responsibilities and duties).
This dad usually has a bad marriage and family life. If you're this dad, you don't want to come home. You drive slower in traffic just to take a longer commute. When home, you convince yourself and your family you're too tired to help or deal with anything in the home.
Often, this is a slow decline. You started off decent as a newly married. You did everything to win the girl. Then, the slow creep down to escape-responsibilities town started taking place. So much that it's been months or years and your wife handles most things at home and with your kids. Are you this dad?
Pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Imagine the difference made in this type of dad if he lives in view of these verses? If we father with Ephesians 5:16 in mind, our evenings and weekends will look different than they do now.
#5 Mr. Ford (Idol = Pre-adultery/Adultery).
This dad finds acceptance and approval with the female secretary or colleague. He's starting to form—or has already formed—unwise, inappropriate relationships. Let's be honest and call this what it is—pre-adultery.
I won't go lite here because I don't want you to go lite on me. Dads, we don't get up in the morning, read our Bible's, pray and truly worship God all day—just to commit adultery by 5PM. No, adultery is death by a thousand paper cuts. There were a thousand little decisions you made along the way. We can't be ignorant to what's happening. Guard your affections. See the signs. Teach your sons.
“You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery.28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
#6 Mr. Grady (Idol = Man's approval/Avoid disapproval).This idol is sneaky. You should want to do good work in life. And, in general, you should to care what people think. But not too much! What's your why? Kind of like #3 Mr. Dean—what's your motivation behind your actions? You can do the right thing for the wrong reasons.
#7 Mr. Heston (Idol = Self-righteous/perfectionist).This dad is a "good Christian". He's proud of his work ethic and does what is right. Often, this dad simply hasn't experienced failure. This dad says when thinks go wrong, "I'll just lean in a work harder." Half-truth alert! Sure, sometimes leaning in is the answer—because you actually haven't been working hard enough! But, beyond that, where is God in your life? Are you dependent on him—regardless of how much or how hard you're working?
I have reasons for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: ... But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ...
Last question: which dad are you?
- Godliness through Discipline by Jay Adams
- How to Balance Competing Demands by Doug Sherman
- Help, I Want to Change by Jim Newheiser
- When People are Big and God is Small by Edward T. Welch
- What is God's will for my life? 8 ways to find it and teach it to your child.
7 proven ways to grow and change (and teach your child to do the same)