I have been gone for over a week. Judy and I have been visiting our two sons and their families in Kansas City and Colorado Springs. I sure the Thanksgiving season was a blessing for many of the men who read this blog. For some, however, there were moments of pain. I use that word very diliberately. When we get together as family, there can be dynamics at work below the surface that are not pleasant to face, let alone acknowledge. I am sure there are fathers and father-in-laws that were glad to be back home or glad that the kids and grandkids leave the house. I want to challenge “wildmen” to monitor their hearts when at a family gathering. I know I have to monitor my heart and what I am feeling at times.
I challenge each of you men to be more “present” to your family when you are together. Ask God the give you grace not “to run away” or “go and hide in your favorite cave.” We are called to be “there,” open and responsive as best we can. One way to be present is to always have in mind what you are passing on to the next generation. In Psalms 103:17-18 in The Message we read, “God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.” Each of us has the privilege of passing on “a godly seed” to our children and grandchildren. This transmission simply will not happen if we are not emotionally and spiritually present. Men, it takes work to be present to your family, during special gatherings.
Let me suggests some of the attitudes that are found in a man who is present to his family. 1) Keep the focus on others. The Message puts it this way, “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Phil 2: 3-4). Pray that your spirit is open to others, so that there is a
“flow” of life from you to others. It does not have to happen in words. Attitude is the most important element in being present. The other extreme is that of being absent, being like a “enclosed, protective fort.” 2) Look for the best in others. It is easy to find fault and be critical. But ask God to give you a heart that is thankful for those who surround you, while you look for the best in your children and grandchildren. Have an attitude that reflects encouragement. Visualize achievement and character growth in your loved ones. Above all don’t give criticism unless you are asked for it. Paul encourages us with these words, “Let your conversation be gracious and atrractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” (Col 4:6).
Above all else, live in a spirit of forgiveness. If for some reason you have buried unforgiveness in the recesses of your heart, you can be sure that it will “sour” your spirit and attitude. Men, it is absolutely critical that a “wild man” be one who forgives from his heart. It does not matter what has been said or what has been done to you, the anger, bitterness and resentment that is buried in you heart will block the passing on of a “godly seed.” Paul tells us, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Col. 3:13). Men, ask God to give you the ability to gift your family with an “open, forgiving, humble and gentle” spirit. It is an open spirit that gives life. Don’t let yourself get caught in the pull of a resentful spirit, that closes you off from your loved ones.