Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.
Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.
Speaking of American Christians some one once quipped, “We worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” Many men fit this mold, especially when it comes to worshiping our work. I know. I was one of them for most of my life. We work from early to late, justifying it by saying that we’re trying to provide the best for our families. If the truth be known, we’re really meeting our own competitive needs to win at the Game of Life as much as anything else. Our self esteem becomes almost totally derived from what we do.
For the most part, the better standard of life we work to give to our children is something they never asked for. And when they learn that it comes at the expense of a meaningful relationship with their father it turns into a losing deal for both parent and child. Not realizing that no amount of material possessions will ever substitute for the love they crave from us, they keep asking for more. And being just as ignorant about their true needs, we work even harder to give them more. By the time we identify the problem, it’s often too late to correct it.
Children are a blessing given us by the Lord to hold in trust. It’s our responsibility to love them, teach them, and by our actions demonstrate God’s love for them. It’s said that our children will get their lasting impression of what God is like from the relationship they have with their earthly father. First hearing that was like a huge wake up call for me. I didn’t like the impression of God I was forming in their minds, and determined to change it. I realized that by being too busy to attend important events in their lives, no matter how much more important I believed my work to be, I was teaching them that God doesn’t have time for them either.
To paraphrase former first lady Barbara Bush, “At the end of your life, you won’t regret not passing one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret times not spent with your children.” I don’t know how many men have expressed regret like that, but I do know how it felt to see the look in my son’s eyes when I re-arranged my schedule so I could attend his soccer games. It was such a little thing, but it meant so much to him. And for me it felt like I wasn’t just expressing my love for him, but God’s love as well.