First off, I am completely aware that I am posting something about Father’s day September. That may be an indication of how crazy my summer has been…
This past Father’s Day, my church had father’s come up on stage with one of their kids and a little cardboard sign. On the cardboard sign was a number– a number signifying how many more weekends that dad had left to be the primary influence in his kid’s life (before they went off to college). It was a powerful moment. I’ve written about the concept before here. Also, my header (for now) on my FB fan page is a picture of all the dads.
This video followed. These are the dads who were “at zero.” In other words, these were the dads whose sons and daughters were graduating and heading off to community college or college. Just being a part of the filming process with these men was humbling, and it really made me think about the time that I have with Evie. Thank you Jon, Mark, Paul, and Brian for sharing you heart in this:
I’m trying to figure out how to get traction in the Orange Dad community. It’s not so much that I’m concerned about whether or not I’ve got a high readership, etc. I am more concerned with the fact that I’ve been writing but there hasn’t been much interaction, discussion, or even pushback with the dads out there.
Am I just coming up against years and years of conditioning that tells dads that the best way to be a parent is to be a “provider”? Although being a provider is important, that’s certainly not the only thing. But I feel like a lot of guys have more to say about sports, their fantasy teams, their jobs, politics, etc. than they do about one of the most important roles they will ever play: being a father.
Is it that we spend too much time fantasizing about other things on the internet when we could get serious about the reality of our roles as dads:
Is the internet just a place to act like a hotshot by talking junk about political things or being the most sarcastic guy in the world?
Is it merely a place that men go to check the stats of their players so they can feel like they are a GM of a pro team?
Is it a place to become a hero in a fake world by playing hours of video games that won’t contribute at all to our “hero” status on this earth?
Is it a place to objectify women and steal away our hearts?
Is it a place to acquire more stuff to keep up with those fictional Joneses?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I feel like this issue is an important one. I guess that if I felt that there was an outlet or regular “real life” forum for men to discuss these issues I wouldn’t be so frustrated about this community’s failure to launch. But is there? Where are the men talking about these things?
I want to be a part of changing this culture.
If you disagree with me, fine. Tell me. Let’s get into some serious discussion.
If you’re skeptical about what all this “God stuff” has to do with being a good dad. Fine, let’s talk about it here.
If you’re embarrassed because you know you’re dropping the ball, should we let the fear of people knowing we’re flawed (just like everyone else) be the reason why we don’t participate in the iron sharpening ability of community.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This can’t happen if I’m talking to myself all day. I’ll be about as sharp as one of those pool noodles.
So…what’s relevant to you? Pitch ideas. Let’s explore the tough stuff. If you want to anonymously propose topics that are kicking your butt right now, do it.
Let’s leave it all out on the field when it comes to being a dad.
After all, being a dad is kind of a big deal.
I’ve been wrestling with the idea of what is REALLY looks like for the church to partner with the family, and a wise man gave me a great idea. I asked this guy, who is a ministry vet and a guy who really “gets” the orange philosophy what was the best thing he did to grow in his relationships with entire families in his ministry– and I’m not sure what I expected to be his response– but sometimes the simplest answers are the ones that make the most sense.
“Have a Bible study for dads of teenagers.”
I remember already having pushback in my mind, “Wait, no, I’m the ‘student’ ministries director. Could or should I be spending that much time with grown men?” Yes, I know, I laugh at myself sometimes too. But, hey, I’m being honest.
I want to grow alongside other dads. I think that’s the stance that I want to take. I know that I am way, way behind them as far as being a dad goes. I have a six-WEEK-old. They would at least have a twelve-YEAR-old. But experience or even having something to bring to the table isn’t really the issue.
Then my friend when totally counter-intuitive on me and told me to resist the temptation to make the Bible study a topical one about parenting. Instead, he said to just go through a book of the Bible. Again, my mind is thinking, “What, no, I need to be a better ‘steward’ of the time that we would have together.” Actually, what would be better than to go through the Gospel of John, grow in WONDER at who God is, DISCOVER who we are in Christ (and as dads, husbands, etc.), and develop PASSION for others (the world, our family, our co-workers). I think the Bible can do that on its own. So I am going to trust God in this one.
It’s going to be an interesting journey. Something I’ve never really tried before. I’m just the assembler, not the teacher. Something tells me that I am going to learn so much and be blessed on Wednesday mornings at Denny’s.
The joke around New Harvest is that my nickname “PM” is an indication of when I do all my ministry. Some weeks, that’s the way it feels (with an event or meeting nearly every night). Rarely, do I use the AM as a time to do anything productive (I’m recovering). But this is a priority to me, so I am getting up early enough so that almost no one would have an excuse for why they’d miss: 6 AM – 8 AM. I hope that, by creating a middle, dads will meet me there.
So, yesterday I officially became an “orange” dad. All this orange jive comes from the book “Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide…” by Reggie Joiner. It’s an awesome read that I’m reading in small chunks because it’s so, so rich with wisdom of WHY it’s so critical for the family and the church to partner together. In the book, Reggie says:
“There are two powerful influences on the planet–
the church and the home.
They both exist because God initiated them.
They both exist because God desires to use them
to demonstrate His plan of redemption and restoration.
If they work together they can potentially
make a greater impact than if they work alone.
They need each other.
Too much is at stake for either one to fail.
Their primary task is to build God’s kingdom
in the hearts and minds of men and women, sons and daughters.”
I wasn’t even remotely nervous because I know how competent the volunteers are, and I know that this is God’s plan for Evie. It was awesome to go to the front desk and have one of the volunteers, Ken, snap a picture of the “drop off” for posterity. [I wanted to bring my camera, but I didn’t want to be “that guy” who brings his camera to everything. Thanks, Ken, for helping me have what I wanted!] Here’s that pic:
Then we dropped Evie off with Holly and Sam. It was really cool that Sam, one of our high school girls, was in there that morning! It just felt right. I know Jocelyn (our Starting Line Coordinator) probably made a few visits into the baby room to “see how Evie was doing” too. Evie was surrounded by love. :-)
I love the aim of Starting Line. No, the aim isn’t just, “Survive crying, change diapers, and give them goldfish to eat.” Instead, they are going to do their best before she even enters kindergarten to help her realize that:
“God MADE Me
God LOVES Me
Jesus Wants to be My FRIEND Forever”
Awesome, awesome. The circle has officially widened beyond just family. Evie had some church up on Sunday. And it felt delightfully orange.
Oh, and she was fine. And so were we. After her day, full of Starting Line, “big church,” and Family Life Live, Evie actually slept through the whole night last night. A first. Awesome.
When you google, “orange dad,” this post comes up on Carlos Whittaker’s blog. What I like is that he means what I mean by it. Here’s what he says:
“Here’s the deal.
I have 3 kids.
All three of them are unique in the way that God has crafted them.
All three of them take a unique style of parenting.
All three of them can be set loose to follow God with the curriculum and ideals behind Orange.
These kids are the world to me.
I want to see them spring to Jesus however that looks.
Falling, stumbling, jumping, laughing, crying, puking, singing, screaming.
However they get there.
I want to help them.
And Reggie Joyner and his team have what I believe is the best way to do that.
They study the child.
They study wonder and put it in a way that I could never.
If parents would only realize how they bore their children. -George Bernard Shaw
I need all the help I can get, and I choose to follow the Orange model to pull that off.”
Cool beans. Any other orange dads out there?
Wow…what an amazing, though-provoking post by Reggie Joiner that came up today. In it he says:
“We handed out jars of marbles to every family. There was one for each child in the home. There were enough marbles in each jar to represent the number of weekends children had left at home before they headed to college. For example there were jars with approximately–
468 marbles for 4th graders
364 marbles for 6th graders
208 marbles for 9th graders
104 marbles for 11th graders
Some parents used calendars to calculate the exact number of weekends for each individual child. They kept the jar in a visible place in their home and removed a marble each passing week to illustrate how much time they had left with their kids. It was a sobering visual reminder of how fast time goes.”
Sobering indeed. So I had to calculate. I will be dropping Evie (maybe “Evelyn” by then) to college sometime in August of 2030. That means I’ve got approximately 970 more weekends with her. Wow. I’ve already enjoyed the three that we’ve had. I can’t imagine what I’m going to do with the 970. I know that I want to turn up the dials in her life to show her that God is amazing, she is an amazing creation, and she can love and add value to others.
So…what’s your number for all your kids? I encourage you to read Reggie’s post.
What’s your number, and what are you going to do with the time that you have?