John couldn’t believe his luck. Just a few weeks ago, he had been lamenting to a co-worker that he didn’t spend enough time with his family and now here he was with his youngest son Fishing in Alaska!
It all started weeks before when he escorted some clients to the Ducks game on the corporate account, hoping to land a big deal. Usually he enjoyed the “perks” that came with his business, but lately the hours had been adding up. Nowadays, with mounting competition, the demands of his job were growing and it wasn’t uncommon for him to leave the house while his family was still sleeping, and to return home long after the kids had gone to bed.
While at the game, almost as an afterthought, John entered a raffle. The grand prize was an all-expense-paid fishing trip to Alaska for two and John reasoned that the five-bucks he paid for the raffle ticket was well worth the entertainment value he’d receive just dreaming about a chance to get away from it all…even though he knew he’d never win.
But he did win! John was so shocked by the news, that for a minute, he thought he might actually cry. Later the next day, he nearly did cry when his oldest son, Jason, refused to go with him. Jason was a casualty of the long hours John had been spending away from home. Now a Junior in High School, Jason had become bitter and disrespectful. His grades had slipped and he was spending time with a bad crowd. John had tried to intervene, but since he wasn’t around to enforce any meaningful follow-through, his rare words of rebuke for his son fell on resentful and increasingly rebellious ears. So when the day finally came to board the plane to Alaska, John made the trip with his youngest son, Ryan.
They spent the first few days with a guide catching record numbers of salmon on excursions to the inland rivers near the resort. John and Ryan were having the time of their life as they trekked through the postcard landscape and their days were filled with wonder, laughter, and excitement. But back in their room late at night, thoughts of his bitter parting with Jason kept John tossing in his bed, swimming in a sea of regret.
On the final day of their vacation, John and Ryan, accompanied by their guide boarded a float plane to a nearby glacial bay for what promised to be the highlight of the week. But as the plane gathered speed and rose above the water at the mouth of the inlet, something went terribly wrong. The plane lost power, veered to the right, and slammed back down to the sea, flipping over and quickly filling with frigid water. Protected from the impact by their seatbelts the passengers were all able to exit the plane. There, safely out of the plane and just a couple hundred yards from shore, the pilot and guide were able to swim against the outgoing current to the beach. John could have made it too, but that would have meant leaving Ryan. They were last seen floating, arm-in-arm, out to sea. Their bodies were never found.
What father wouldn’t die for his son? This story, based on an actual event, painfully illustrates a sad truth that is playing itself out in homes throughout the valley right now…maybe in your home. It’s the story of regret; of fathers who get caught-up in the pressures of life and who end-up neglecting the ones whom they endure those pressures for in the first place. My question for them (for you?) is this:
If we fathers are so willing to die for our families, why is it that we often don’t live for them?
Proverbs 22:03 says:
“A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.” (Proverbs 22:03 NLT)
The key words in this translation are “…foresees…” and “…blindly…”. Together, these two contrasting words make all the difference in determining what the outcome will be; One man foresees the evil that is coming and changes his ways to evade the danger, while the other blindly presses-on and suffers the consequences.
As you read this, may I ask, which person are you? Are you the man who foresees the danger, or are you the fool who walks blindly ahead, heading for regret and consequences with your family?
Years ago, I watched two men sparring at a Tai Kwan Do studio. One a triple black-belt and the other his student. Shortly into the match, the student covered-up his head with his arms and, “balled-up”, when his instructor began to get the better of him. In response, the instructor began to laugh at him and taunt him, saying, “I’m still here…I’m not going anywhere!” In the same way, that’s a good example of the fool who goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. In effect, he hides his head in the sand and thinks that the danger ahead won’t hurt him if he just doesn’t look. Wrong. That’s a prescription for regret and pain and Satan will laugh and taunt us every time we do that.
That’s what the Apostle Paul was talking about in his letter to the Ephesians when he said:
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
That word “circumspectly” means to look very carefully; to look all around us. It’s the picture of a man walking through the backyard lawn of a neighbor who owns several Pit Bulls. There’s just no end to the fun that awaits this guy…he can get the teeth, or he can get the tail, but either way, if he doesn’t watch out, it’s going to stink!
Men, as we lead our families, why don’t we take some time to take inventory and make a plan? Are we headed for trouble? Are we about to step into something unpleasant? Are we going to get bitten by something if we don’t make some changes? Do our kids understand what is expected of them and are they equipped to live obediently?
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5)
Years ago, I developed a plan to lead my family that outlined our goals for maturity. This family roadmap consisted of three main components; The first two components listed the ABC’s of our family (Where I Outlined our Morals & Values) & the ABC’s of our faith (This is where I discussed what the practical application of what our faith would look like in action with an emphasis on personal Responsibility & Self Control) – I called these first two components, “The Leavenworth Goals for Maturity” (See PDF Below)
The third component listed the ABC’s of our follow-through (The Rules, the Discipline, the Punishment & the Consistency) This last component consisted of two things – A written list of rules & a written list of disciplines.
The written list of rules focused on the ten top issues that we most frequently encountered in disobedience issues, so naturally I called this list, “The Top-Ten List” (See PDF Below) It lists the top ten expected behaviors and the consequence when those behaviors are not adhered to. This takes the argument out of the discipline process. Never again will your child be able to look you in the face and say, “You never told me that…I didn’t know…etc.” You can smile and calmly say, “Yes my child, you do know, it’s written right here & you signed it. Ha!”
The written discipline list is the specific consequences for disobedience. (See PDF below) It contains 31 disciplinary actions to coincide with the days of the month. That takes the frustration out of the discipline process. – How often have you been so exasperated with your kids that you blurt-out a punishment that is too extreme, or just difficult to follow-through with? That’s a problem because kids are natural-born gamblers and they’re gambling on the fact that they can wear you down and that you won’t have the energy to follow-through on your punishment. The discipline list protects you from that. Let’s say that it’s May 21 and your child has been disobedient, you simply say, “The list” and their disciplinary action is written in black & white on #21 on the refrigerator. You will note that every discipline involves work and chores. My reasoning for this is that when our children disobey, it takes away from the family. Discipline should add back to the family.
There’s more to say on this subject, and I encourage you to go to our online sermon resources and listen to my teaching in Colossians 3:20-21 so that you will be trained & equipped to properly live for your children. Men, let’s focus on walking circumspectly. Life’s too short for regrets!