Most church-goin' dads walk around feeling overwhelmed or worse, like failures. I admit, I'm a busy guy. I don't often stop and take note of the good things happening around me. I hear good stories all the time—but rarely share them. But last week, two things happened and I couldn't help but notice.
Here are those two stories. My guess is, they'll encourage you right now. You're welcome in advance.
Real-life story #1
The following text exchange is between Kent Evans, our fearless founder, and his oldest son, Alex. Used by permission—at least from Kent. Alex, I'm sorry—blame your dad! : )
Take a moment to review it. Keep scrolling...
Did you read the text exchange? Before I jump in—one more story...
Real-life story #2
Shortly after Kent shared story #1 with me—sorry, Kent, if this text was confidential. I don't believe in confidentiality—I believe in blog content!—Kent and I talked about how dads should know when they're winning this whole dad thing. So, Kent then starts telling me another story—about his son's friend.
This friend—let's call him James. James comes up to Kent while he's working in Starbucks in Louisville (or Manhood Journey: Central Command). James comes up, sits down and asks all about April's (Kent's wife) health and how Kent's other kids are doing. After talking about his summer plans and education goals, Kent asks how he can help James. James, get this, asks Kent to pray for him. Wait for it...then, James asks what Kent needs prayer for. Hold on, I'm not finished. Then, James says to Kent, “Can we pray about that right now?"
Um, hello! James' dad is HASHTAG WINNING!
Let's dissect both of these stories a bit.
I know Kent. If Kent was writing this post—he'd tell you, "Oh, I'm not perfect. I miss the mark a lot." Sure, we all do. The point in this post is NOT to spotlight Kent. Although I do love me some Kent. The point is to glean from this exchange between a father and son—how God might be using you—to point to Him.
Notice something: Kent's texts to Alex keep the conversation going. There's a conversation. What I mean is, Kent doesn't just reply, "Oh, yeah, that's silly..." and then the text exchange end. Kent pushes the ball passed the goal line. Sure, he's using humor. But he's making a clear point to Alex.
One more quick thing jumps out at me here. And I start to think of my relationship with my kids. They are only a few years behind Alex. My oldest is 12. Alex is 20. Eight years mize will be tomorrow. As I consider this story, I realize Kent's text exchange doesn't simply happen overnight. Kent's spent 20 years with Alex.
Hear me out. I know some things about Kent—from working with him for years—to sitting in his home, to traveling in different cities and even driving around Louisville interacting with his sons—Kent's the real deal.
I've heard Kent have arguments with his son—healthy arguments. I won't name which son! : ) The argument—even for the age of the son—was amazing to hear from my standpoint. Healthy...respectable...centered around false expectations and forgiveness.
I've heard—okay eavesdropped—on Kent talking from another room with his boyse while traveling in a different city—Kent checking in or relating a story to Alex from college. Trust me on this. My point here is Kent's text back and forth with Alex didn't just happen this one fine day. This connection was 20 years in the making—and I don't have to know Kent's iPhone passcode to tell you—it's happening all the time.
After a few texts between Kent and myself, Kent said something that's telling—perhaps you can relate. Kent said, "When my son does things like this, I’m dancing in the end zone and see God's grace in my life. I would rather have this exchange than have him get a high ACT score or land a sweet job." Wow. Perspective. Amen, Kent. And we praise God with you. Even though I know Alex's excellent ACT score! : )
The same is true of the dad of James—the praying son. I don't even know James or James' dad. But I can tell you this. That dad is winning. The son is 19 years old. THAT DAD needs to know he’s WINNING. Dad reading this post, in case you don't realize it, if things like this are happening—you ARE WINNING! : )
God allows these interactions daily, hourly, by the minute—if we'll just look for them. Are you looking for them? Take a moment: where are signs around that you're winning? This isn't a time to get down on yourself.
Now, if you survey your fathering and still can't find anything. If you honestly can't think of anything, don't be discouraged. If Kent were talking to you in person, he'd pat you on the back and say, "God is faithful. You can redeem the time you have. Get out there and be confident. Do the next right thing." Okay, in my mind Kent may sound a bit like Spike Lee, but you get the idea. You're still breathing, so there's time. God is God. You aren't. He redeems everything. You're called to be faithful—not perfect. Heck, be like the dads in these two stories. My guess is you might be winning more than you realize.
Question: Where can you see signs that you're winning? Even just a little? Hit us up in the comments on on social.
About the author > Ryan J. Sanders, M. Div.
Ryan Sanders is the Director of Outreach at Manhood Journey. He is married to Tonia and they have three children. He received the Master of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a Fellow at The Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Ryan serves as Lay Pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, DC and is a diehard Redskins fan. Learn about Ryan here, follow @RyanSanders, grab 7 Sins of a Disengaged Dad or the Field Guides for dads.