Kent Evans recently sat down with Eric Ballard—author of the Keeping Score Field Guide. Grab a cup of coffee and sit in on the conversation via zoom.
Find out how to tell if you're winning or losing as a dad. Let's jump in and learn more about Eric, snag some key takeaways from his Field Guide and additional resources to help you win as a dad.
About the author > Eric Ballard, M. Div.
Eric Ballard is a youth and college pastor in Texas where he lives with his beautiful wife and two daughters. He is the author of several books and loves the Mississippi State Bulldogs, where he attended college for too many years. Because of an illustrious soccer career that was cut too short, most nights, Eric still sits by the phone waiting for the Houston Dynamo to finally call him up. Find Eric at www.ericrballard.com
Now, let's dive in to the conversation between Manhood Journey's fierce founder, Kent Evans, and Keeping Score author, Eric Ballard.
Can't see the video? Click here.
4 takeaways from the interview & the book
If you watched the above video, I trust you heard Eric's passion for dads. How can you tell if you're actually winning when most days feel like loses. It's not wonder most dads tell us they walk around feeling inadequate and overwhelmed.
Let's look at what Eric talks about in his interview and Field Guide:
What Game Are You Playing?
Are We Competent?
Know When You’re Winning
Are You Still in the Game?
1) What game are you playing?
What’s the most important thing you want to pass down to children? Eric gets transparent from the start of the book and in this interview. He points out how he first dreamed of many things for his kids before he realized he hadn't really thought about discipling his kids to be Christ followers.
Eric then explains how Proverbs 22:6 informs us that if we, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it,” (ESV). So, this begs the question, what are we “training up” our kids to do?
So, take a second and think about all the words and actions you demonstrate in front of your kids. Are you pushing them toward the eternal or the temporary?
If we spend hours teaching our son how to throw a curve ball and practically no effort on showing him how to spend time in God’s Word, then we are missing the point of this fathering opportunity we’ve been given.
Could it be the reason us dads don’t know we’re winning in fatherhood is because we’re playing the wrong game?
Ask yourself: What would your kids say are the most important priorities in your life? Would their answers be the ones you hope they would?
2) Are we competent? 7 things worth thinking about.
Eric points out his his book seven ideas we can practice so we’re making the most of what God has given us with our children. Are we doing the following things so we're competent to lead our children?
1) Read the Bible together
Don’t over think this. God’s Word is powerful. Try this for a week and I promise you, regardless of the age of your kids, they will begin to ask you questions—about what you just read, about why you read the Bible and questions about God. Bam! In case you forgot, this is you winning as a dad!
2) Pray together
This can go hand-in-hand with reading the Bible. Maybe set aside a few minutes in the morning or right before bed to read the Bible and pray together.
3) Get involved in their ministry at church
One easy way to be a spiritual leader for your kids is to get involved in whatever ministry they are involved in at church. If you have a teenager, consider becoming a small-group leader. If you have an elementary-aged kid, serve in the children’s ministry.
4) Create memories
One of the best practices we have as dads is to simply be present in the lives of our kids. Quality time is vital for the relationship with our child, but it’s often found within the friendly expanses of quantity time.
5) Take interest in the hobbies of your kids
What us dads tend to be great at is imposing our interests and hobbies onto our kids. If we love spending our Sundays painted in the colors of our favorite football team tailgating with our buddies, we try to introduce this joy to our kids as soon as we can.
6) Give them their own time
Does this weekly schedule look familiar?
5-7pm—kid’s extracurricular stuff
7-9pm—help with homework, catch up on work emails, eat dinner and clean up afterwards
9-10pm—try to get kids ready for and into bed so you can spend just a few minutes with your wife before you both pass out
Your time is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. Setting aside specific time with your kids will reinforce that they are your priority.
7) Eat together as a family
There is something special about sharing a meal together. It leads to investing in what happened in the lives of your kids. Simply lead with the basic statement, “Tell me about your day.” Boom. You win. Conversation started. This is an easy opportunity to take advantage of, so try and share a few meals per week together.
These seven suggestions are by no means an exhaustive list nor are the most important ideas to implement.
Ask yourself: Pick one of your weaker areas. What are you going to specifically do this week to help make this weakness into a strength?
3) 7 ways to know when you’re winning
So, while it’s difficult to keep an accurate system of metrics on your kid’s spiritual growth, there are indicators we can look for that will give us some feedback on how our kids are tracking spiritually. Let’s consider a handful.
#1 Response to drama or things not going their way
How does your son or daughter react when trouble hits? When situations go differently than they were hoping, what’s their response? Is it the end of the world? Do they blame others or deny any fault of their own? Do they accept responsibility? Do they go to you or God for help?
#2 Willingness to obey
Are your kids obedient to all authorities in their life? Are they respectful to their coaches? Teachers? Adult neighbors? How they treat other people is a big indicator to keep an eye on.
#3 Notice the marginalized at school
How do your kids respond to the kids at their school who are pushed to the side? Do they sit with the kids who eat alone in the cafeteria or make fun of them?
Who does your child spend most time with on the phone or hanging out with after school? A teenager’s friends have massive influence over them. Who they choose to hang out with says a lot about who they are becoming.
#5 Who they date
What kind of person does your kid go out with or want to go out with? What are their motives for dating?
#6 How they act when they disagree with you
It’s not necessarily a bad thing when your kids disagree with you. What matters is how they respond when they disagree. Are they respectful? Deceitful? Are they obedient to your rules even when they don’t understand them?
#7 Is God part of their vocabulary
Do your kids talk about Jesus outside of church? Do they ever ask you questions or advice about who God is or how they could know Him better? Do they ever express a curiosity about God?
These aren’t the only indicators for measuring our impact on our children. These are just a handful of ideas that might signal we are moving in the right direction.
Now, don’t think our kids must show signs of this entire list before we can celebrate making any progress. Sometimes, all it takes is a little forward movement to make all the difference.
Ask yourself: What do you look for in your kids as indicators to what kind of impact you are having as a dad?
4) Are you still in the game?
If we want our children to grow in their faith and love for Jesus, then we better be sure we are doing the same thing. We want to be the kind of dad who can say, “Do as I do,” not “Do what I say, not what I do.”
There should be no loftier goal for a godly dad than to tell his children, “If you ever have a question about what it means to be a follower of Jesus, just follow my example. Do as you’ve seen me do.”
Here’s the truth of the matter: your kids are going to do what you do anyway.
Additional resources for knowing if you're winning or losing as a dad
Blog post: What game are you playing?
Keeping Score Field Guide
Field Guide Removing Doubt - How of overcome failure & regret as a dad
Ryan is the Director of Outreach at Manhood Journey. He is married to Tonia and they have three children. He has a Master of Divinity from The Southern Seminary and is a Fellow at The Colson Center. Ryan serves as Lay Pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, DC and is a diehard Redskins fan. He is the author of 7 Sins of a Disengaged Dad and general editor of the Field Guides for dads. Learn more about him here and follow @RyanSanders.