A few weeks ago, Jonathan went with some of his best buds to an event in Atlanta called “All-Pro Dad.” These are guys we met through AdvoCare, but they have become some of our best friends & we love doing life with them and their families.
Nerd alert: I have always been a ‘learner.“ I really enjoyed school, I like to research topics I’m passionate about, I love to read, & I enjoy being in lecture settings (conferences, retreats, etc) where I have an opportunity to take notes. I like to a challenge, and the personal growth journey is like a never-ending challenge that reaps immense rewards along the way. AdvoCare has been a great fit in that aspect and taught us the importance of self-improvement and personal growth. Now we are BOTH all about ‘seeking wisdom’ and learning how to improve ourselves, especially in the relationships & roles that matter most (our marriage & parenting). I am truly thankful for a husband (who is already an incredible daddy) that realizes there is ALWAYS room for improvement and who truly has a desire to invest in himself, our family, and to learn from others. He had an absolute blast hanging with his friends & I loved hearing all of his takeaways from the event. He took some awesome notes too…and although his handwriting looks really cool, it’s definitely a secret language that only he can understand. Ha!
How awesome is it that we are surrounded by men who CHOOSE (none of these guys wives nagged them into going) & are hungry to be the best men they can be?? I LOVE it.
All of the wives and kiddos met up after the event for dinner & fellowship. We LOVE these people!! It was an awesome Saturday.
Jonathan has always hated to write (he cannot fathom that I actually enjoy writing) but I really wanted to share some of the notes from the weekend. I couldn’t really read his notes and didn’t think I would do an effective job conveying what he learned anyway. One of our friends (Brandon) is a great writer, so I asked him if he would mind putting together a little something for me to post. This is Brandon & Kathy with their precious son Grafton & sweet little Samson in mom’s tummy. They are truly servant leaders in their business, church, and community. We are so thankful for their friendship & how they always encourage and challenge us to be BETTER! Love this sweet family, & here is what Brandon had to say about the weekend.
Disclaimer: By no means do I consider myself the authority of fatherhood. I am simply a son of an all- loving God and a father to a 4 year who brought me to Christ. In this relationship with my eternal father I have learned many things that have enabled me to be the father I need to be to the son God has given me for his Glory to change the world in some small way.
I was fortunate to be able to attend The All Pro Dad seminar in Atlanta, Georgia with a group of fathers that made me hopeful for the future of our country and our world. Fatherhood has become a
misguided right of passage into mainstream society. We get married, get a good job that pays us what someone else thinks we are worth, have a child, sit on the couch for our time, and wonder after 18 years why our child turned out the way he or she did.
When we had our first son Grafton, my life was forever changed and I am sure that every father says that. However, that single act of God’s providence saved me from a life of selfish destitute, only focusing on myself and believing that I am all that dictates my place in this world. Then God decided to humble me with a baby boy who suffered through his first six months of life. He cried every day and every night, because he was hurting and I, the man, the arrogant sin- filled being could not solve the problem. Humility was not my strong suit, but anger and aggression were. The only thing I could do was get angry….with my 1 month old son. Why was he crying, why would he not eat, why won’t he let me sleep? One night when I was holding him and rocking him to sleep (or trying to) I was at my wits end and I looked up and asked a God I did not know to please take this suffering away from my child and place it on me. I said I would give anything for him to stop crying and to stop hurting, even my life. Looking back on that moment I realized what my father did for me and in turn what he allowed me to do for Grafton.
Jesus loves me and you so much that he does not want to see you hurt, but he knows we all have to go through some pain to be closer to him; to experience his unending perfect love. He allowed me to comfort Grafton and he stopped crying and his illness went away in time, and my illness of sin was washed as well.
Being a father is the most rewarding responsibility I am allowed to have on this earth and I take it more serious than anything. I constantly crave the moments I spend with my son and it is my belief that he is happiest just being with me. As a father we have the responsibility to raise the next generation that will shape and mold this earth and if you are unhappy with the way the world is today then take a good look at yourself and then at your child and ask yourself will they be different? Or more importantly ask yourself, do I love them enough to speak to them differently, show them love differently, and teach them the ways of the world differently than what society has dictated to be “normal”. Normal today is anger, hostility, entitlement, greed, lust, legalism, and selfishness. I don’t want my sons to be raised that way and the only true way that I have to influence them every day is through the time that God has granted me. We as fathers have to be stewards and keepers of the time we are allowed with our family. When I became a father, golf and 4 hour workouts went out the window because those are all about me and it took me away from my family. I became very aware that everyday Grafton was getting older and I would never have that day back, so I wanted to make the most of the time I had with him. And, if I did not have the time I wanted with him I had to seek out something that would give me that time.
I had to become the leader my family needed me to be, no longer would I allow others around me to talk negatively about their wives, children or others. If they did, I removed myself from them. We have to be a role model for the children we are raising to be men and women in this world. How I treated my wife would shape how my son treated women and in todays world the statistics bear that we have to many so-called men mistreating women because of their lack of humility….if you need an example look at major American sports today. My son had to see the love I had for my wife but first he had to see the love I had for Christ. He had to understand that he and Kathy were a gift for me and because of those gifts I had to honor them. But most importantly, I have to show him I love him every day, and tell him I love him everyday. Words have power and can shape the outcome of a child at any given time. Everyday I tell Grafton I love him multiple times and I hope someday he gets tired of it, but in return at this moment he tells me the same thing. That will make your heart full. Your love should never be a conditional thing, your children should know that you love them unconditionally.
My son does not care about the quality of the time we spend together, in fact many times we sit on the floor of his room and build legos the wrong way. He wants my TIME simply stated and if we are not giving them our TIME they will get it from someone or something else.
I quickly had to realize that I am not perfect and to be quite frank no one is. But my son does not need me to be perfect, he needs me to be his father. He needs me to be present, to be the example, and to give my best effort and live with the results. If you are a real man you have no problem apologizing to your children for doing the wrong thing, speaker out of anger and reacting our of fear. I am here to tell you, they will forgive you…if you ask. If you don’t ask, someone else will tell them it’s ok who that person is is a mystery.
Speak life into your children every day. My son is a Champion and he knows it. Why? Because we tell him every day that he is a Champion. We tell him everyday that God created him for a special purpose and when the time comes he will impact the world. We don’t tell him he can’t or that’s not possible and he knows “that through Christ all things are possible”-Philippians 4:13. Your children will only change the world if they are told they can, if not they will believe what the television tells them, or what the teacher tells them or what their friends tell them.
Always tell your children the truth because the world is lying to them and trying to move them into a position that best suites their needs and their position. So again, look at the worldly view and ask yourself “is that ok”.
Give more to your family than you do to your profession and career. Where are you giving your best self? Is it in your career or your home? Are you giving the best of you to your family or everyone else? If you are giving the best of yourself to others than it is hard to be upset when our child gives his best efforts to Playstation. Lay your heart on the line for your kids, invest in them, play with them and show a genuine heartfelt interest in what they are interested in. I love Lego’s and so does my son, but I am the guy from the Lego movie who wants everything perfect according to the instructions. My son is 4 and he would rather creatively build something that to me makes no sense. But my best is not in the instruction book, it’s in the smile on his face and the joy in his voice when I tell him how awesome his creation is.
Involve your children in the process of your life. Do you every ask your kids what they think about the decisions you are going to make that will positively or negatively impact their lives? Yes, I am the adult and in the end will make the decision that I feel will best suite our family but when making those decisions I talk to my son about them. Recently, I have had to do more things to advance our business while also working a full time job because my wife is pregnant and cannot travel so I do. I talk with Grafton about why I am doing this now and I ask him what he thinks. If you involve them and explain to them why they will become leaders in this world who seek to understand others and involve them in the process.
Lastly, I was impacted by every speaker who spoke at the All Pro Dad seminar and the major points of what I have said all come from them but I was left most moved by Georgia coach Mark Richt. He was not the most polished of all the speakers but what he did was speak from the heart and was un-phased by societal norms and influences. His influence in shaping his children’s future comes from God. In our life Gods way is the way and it shapes everything that we do including raising our children. Coach Richt had a very simple plan for fatherhood:
1. Love God: If your heart truly belongs to God and you are constantly seeking his guidance through his word you will see the love you your children deserve and need.
2. Love your wife: Never lose sight of the path you have forged together. Be on the same page and push aside your pride and ego to show her love. Is being right more important in your relationship or is your relationship lasting more important. Men are called in the bible to love their wives as Christ loved the church. We are called to Agape(unconditional) love and do not need to be re-payed to give it. Love her like God has called you to, with no limits, no barriers, and no regrets.
3. Show the way: Be the example for your children of what is good in this world. They will emulate you, daily. Everyday when I come home Grafton changes to match the colors I wear, he mimics my voice patterns and movements. He wants to be me and your kids want to be you. Are they mimicking you sitting in a recliner with a beer ignoring them, or are them mimicking you fully engaged in their life.
My prayer is that I can add some value to whoever reads this and that by change you will see how important and vital it is for their to be more All-Pro Dads in this country and this world. It is an honor to be a father and I am blessed that God has allowed me to honor him with that responsibility, one I don’t take lightly. Look at your life and consider what is most important to you and set your priorities in an order that will allow you to be a hero to your children.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. –Proverbs 22:6