How do you know someone or something is a priority? By looking at how you spend your time, money, and energy.
When I applied this principle to my kids, I realized how intentional I’d need to be to make them a priority in my life. Busyness quickly eats my time, money, and energy; so I decided to apply Philippians 2:4: “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
Here are some ways I applied that verse practically through each stage with my kids.
When they were young:
- They loved games — so I played with them. I did not grow up in a “games family” so this took more effort for me. I know you games people don’t get that, but I spent my childhood playing hockey and football, so to sit and play games took some adjusting. I adjusted.
- Because they loved stories, I read to them. My wife and I would search for really intriguing books that reflected our values. I became the reader. “You can’t stop now, Dad. One more chapter!” were the words I loved to hear.
As they got older:
- When they loved certain activities, I got involved. I wanted to be there when they started getting into softball, so I started coaching them. No, I did not know a lot about the rules, nor how to coach, but my desire to be close to my daughters fuelled my learning. We went to hockey games, band concerts, movies, whatever they found to be fun. I also became their driving instructor. Was it fun? Not the “almost driving off the road” part. I found that the activity was not always my idea of fun, but the time together was great.
- They loved their friends, so we got to know them and their parents. Not just hanging out at our place, but taking an interest in these families. In fact, my daughter just mentioned to me this morning how important this was to her and how much she loved it.
Now as adults:
- Now that the noisy reminders of youth are gone, I need to be reminded to be intentional about caring for my kids. So, I put each of my daughters in my calendar; every week they “pop up” automatically. When this happens, I pray for them, text them, or, with our younger daughter who is close by, I try to include her in what I am working on. I want her input, but also want to invest into her life as an adult.
- I found that bribery has always worked, so I “bought” their time! One Christmas when they asked what I wanted, I came up with what I felt was creatively selfish. I didn’t need stuff, but I wanted time with them; so I made a list and let them select the activities for us to do together one on one. They picked — I paid. It was well worth the price to get them to hang out with their dad. I loved it!
Fatherhood isn’t easy. I make a lot of mistakes, and believe me, asking their forgiveness is a blow to my ego. But fatherhood sure is rewarding! I love my kids. I love to have them ask for my input or to tell me their ideas and plans. Talking for over an hour on the phone regarding an upcoming presentation or having my daughter work alongside me for an upcoming event are all rewards of having amazing kids that I love hanging out with.
So, here is my Philippians 2:4 challenge to you: based on what your kids are interested in, how will you get involved in their lives? How will you spend your time, money, and energy?