You think you're ready for your kids to go back to school, but you're not. Sure, you reached your quota for hearing, "I'm bored" back in early June. Still, you aren't as ready as you think. This post isn't about finding a new backpack or trapper keeper (remember trapper keepers?). This post is about redeeming the school year. And it starts right now, in August, with you.
I'm a dad of kids ages 10, 7 and 15 months, so life ain't gettin' less busy this year. But, I have hope. August is a turn-a-round month. A time to establish new habits, cut the excess and double-down on the essentials. Now, I wasn't the valedictorian of my class but you have to listen up. And if my next statement doesn't sound highfalutin you're reading it wrong: In 8th grade, I was voted, "Most Likely to Succeed," and my senior year I was voted "Most Popular". So you can trust me, I know a thing or two about navigating the school year! : )
- Must-have #1 > The intentional dad abides in Christ.
- Must-have #2 > The intentional dad loves his wife.
- Must-have #3 > The intentional dad disciples his child.
Must-have #1 > The intentional dad abides in Christ.
I know, my first point sounds super Sunday School-ish. But a list about knowing how to be a godly father and husband must include this item. We hear the Bible because we’re in church all the time. But we’re also busy going from one event to the next for our kids. We can easily lose sight of James 1:22-25:
But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does. (CSB)
If we can keep our relationship with God fresh, number two and three on our checklist will follow more easily. It’s difficult to keep focused in the busy-ness of life.
One thing that works for me is a weekly time of review. I try my best to carve out Saturday morning before everyone wakes up for me-time. I’m re-energized during this time. I take a moment to reflect on the past week, what I want from the weekend ahead and how I might revise my schedule to optimize my upcoming week. If you're not already a daily prayer warrior, you'll be amazed at how this action can spark a time of renewal.
Must-have #2 > The intentional dad loves his wife.
When’s the last time you said something nice to your wife? I didn’t say anything nice to my wife this morning and I'm realizing it as I type these words. The point is, we can probably do better at encouraging our wives. I’m not coming down on you. I’m preaching to myself.
Here are a two ideas for how to be a godly husband, not only building your relationship with her, but helping her have a time of renewal.
- Speak highly of your wife in public > When you speak highly of your wife in front of others, something magical happens. Sidenote: this can't be faked. She'll smell it from a mile away. You're heart will need to be in the right place. But do this correctly, and it'll not only give your wife a much-needed boost, but you'll be modeling to your kids respect.
- Give her time daily or at least weekly > Depending on the age of your child, mom may need alone time to look forward too. Try to give mom at least a few minutes each day for herself. Trust me. This doesn't happen daily, but I'm sure Tonia wished it did. The best days are when I come home from work and immediately take my kids for a walk outside. This gives mom some alone time, gets the kids outside and gets me moving. Heck, being outside helps me transition mentally from work to family time. Win, win, win, & win! Just a few minutes each day can be a game changer for the entire family.
Must-have #3 > The intentional dad disciples his child.
In my Christian bubble, I still see well-meaning dads get this wrong. Don’t wait for your wife and child to invite you to connect with them. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. If you haven’t been super-involved in the past, odds are good they won’t consider you.
As my children get older and start to have their own activities and lives, there's a pull away from me in some ways. The same may happen to you. While this can be normal and healthy, it'll take initiative to make sure you are intentionally discipling your son.
- Be intentional daily > Whether it’s driving in the car for errands or at dinner, think about how you can help reinforce what your child learned that day. Pick a topic and lean on our 1 on 1 Guides to tell you what to say and when to say it. You can start right here with a free sample of our Embarking 1 on 1. Or, just ask your child, “What’s one thing you learned today?” Whatever your child says, there’s your chance to dig deeper into the discussion.
- Plan to be intentional > Discipleship will not happen unless it’s on your calendar. What's wrong with taking time now, before the busy-ness really starts, to schedule on your calendar a Saturday morning time to connect with your child? I promise, if you establish the habit early in the school year, your child will beg you to keep doing it and serve as your built-in accountability.
Take advantage of August, my brothers. As another school year starts, be intentional about abiding in Christ, loving your wife and discipling your child. By graduation, you may not be valedictorian or most popular, but I promise, you'll be most likely to succeed.
Ryan Sanders is the Director of Outreach at Manhood Journey. Ryan is married to Tonia and they have two daughters and one son. He lives in Reston, Virginia, serves at McLean Bible Church in Washington, DC and is a diehard Redskins fan. Learn more about Ryan here and follow him on Twitter @RyanSanders.
Manhood Journey originally partnered with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for The Ultimate Homeschool Dad blog post series (login required). Portions of this post came from that cool partnership.