…but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. –1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
One year I was speaking at the family conference of one of the most well-known youth organizations in the world. Many of the attendees and their families do work similar to what I do. On Friday night of this weekend event, I spoke to the adults and their children. Afterward, on the way back to my room, I passed two teenage girls smoking cigarettes. They looked a bit hardened and not much involved in the conference. For some reason, I got to talking with them and it surprised me to hear that their parents held high positions in the organization. I love the challenge of communicating with these kinds of kids, so we had a great time of open discussion.
The next day, I was returning to my room again and there they were—the same two girls, smoking. I stopped and we started having another good conversation. Finally, feeling I was gaining some trust, I said, “I’m in a very similar job situation as your dads and I have three daughters. What advice would you give me for being a good dad and helping my daughters live meaningful lives?” Julie, the older of the two girls, took a long drag from her cigarette, then slowly put it on the ground and stamped it out as smoke was coming from her nose.
She looked up at me and replied, “I hope you spend more time with your kids than my dad did with me. You see, he saved lots of kids, but he didn’t save me.” My eyes immediately filled up with tears. I went back to my room, got on my knees and asked God to help me be the kind of father to my girls that would not put my vocation ahead of my relationship with them. I’m sure there is another side to Julie’s story, but the fact remains that building a strong and healthy family cannot be done long-distance.
There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that kids regard your very presence as a sign of caring and connectedness. This “power of being there” makes a difference in a child’s life. It sounds so simple, but never underestimate the positive message you are giving your kids by watching those games, driving them all around the county, or being with them in one of the hundreds of other ways you are present in their lives. You don’t have to be present with your kids 24/7, but your presence gives them a greater sense of security than almost anything else you can offer them.
1. Spend some time evaluating whether you give your children adequate amounts of your time or just the scraps and leftovers of your schedule.
2. Identify a time in the next week when you will intentionally “be there” for your kids.
1 Timothy 5:8