My personal journey has led me from a life of selfish desires and a drive to succeed, to an understanding that true freedom comes from connecting with God and serving others.
Building teams and a career, winning basketball games, overcoming obstacles, and finding solutions to beat the odds was my daily grind. My thought process as a man, as a collegiate coach, as a husband and father was: Once these things are accomplished, real impact and fruit will be the result. I will find freedom in what I am working so hard to build, and my family and those in my sphere of influence will be blessed.
The leadership role and positional power of a father is a special privilege, but it can cause a father either to sacrifice for the good of his family or to sacrifice his family for his own good. The lie many men are being told, and the one I was telling myself, is that your influence and even your masculinity is based on the career or life you’ve built. Until a decade ago, this was the legacy I was preparing to pass down to my children.
At a moment in my life ten years ago, God revealed Himself to me in a new way that changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of my wife and children. It was in that moment that I chose to rise up and lead…to guide and direct my wife and children in faith…to be the spiritual leader of our home.
In John 15:4, Jesus taught his disciples, “Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.”
I’m at my best when I’m connected to Christ.
I’ve learned over the last decade from some very important mentors in my life that if I am connected to Jesus first…then I’ll be a really good husband, and I’ll be a really good father. None of those mentors said that I won’t make mistakes or lose focus from time to time, but if I remain in Christ and walk in the freedom He has provided me, I will be the very best version of me that I can be. I know that any legacy I leave in this life will only be fruitful if I stay connected to Christ and I lead my wife and children to the same vine that is sustaining me.
So how do we as fathers carry the freedom of Christ forward?
Norman Mailer, in his book ‘Cannibals and Christians,’ wrote, “Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor.”
It’s okay to feel inadequate in fathering…but it’s not okay to be inactive. Inactivity based on feelings of inadequacy shows a lack of faith and dependence on God. This is a battle I face daily…being intentional in the lives of my children. Dads, don’t be afraid to put yourself into a fathering situation where you’re in over your head. I think we forget sometimes that we have the greatest power ever known to man on our side if we stay connected to God and call upon His strength to help guide us through these battles and challenges.
2 Timothy 2:1-2 gives us our marching orders: “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
This is how to leave a legacy with your children. Although Paul was not Timothy’s father, they had a father-son relationship. Paul is telling his protégé to walk strong in the freedom Christ has given us. To carry and share that freedom in every part of his life. Paul was passing the torch of leadership to Timothy. This is the same torch that can be carried into every battle a father faces.
Fathers, be the best version of you today. Be intentional about those most important to you. Connect with God…remain in Him and receive the strength from the vine that will bear fruit in all you do and position you to be the father that God has created you to be.