Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Prolonged Engagement

It likely comes as no surprise to those of you who wander over to my blog that I love to read.

That hasn't always been the case.

As a kid and even through college, I despised reading. It was an exercise in boredom. But as I've grown older and as the demands to stay fresh with the message in ministry have heightened, reading has become an indispensable part of what I do...and who I am (the aforementioned reality would come as a total shock to every teacher I had during Jr. and Sr. High School).

In each of the books I've read this year, I've found some nuggets that have altered the way I think about life.

But then there are some books that totally alter reality. The depth of insight penetrates to such an extent that my routine must be rearranged to apply the new insight in a tangible way.

One of the books that has deeply affected me this year has been Meg Meeker's Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. Since reading that one book, I've come to a firm understanding that I have a God-given responsibility to my daughters that trumps my other commitments. Their faith and their futures are contingent upon having a dad who loves them and who loves Jesus and who prioritizes the transfer of faith from my generation to theirs.

Achieving that aim requires energy and Meeker calls workaholic dads on the carpet for expending all their physical, mental and emotional energy on their job and leaving nothing in reserve for the all-important "work" at home:

"Home life requires just as much tenacious engagement as work does. So consciously spare some energy at work.

I am convinced that if fathers recruited even 20% of the intellectual, physical, mental and even emotional energy they spend at work and applied it to their relationships at home, we would live in an entirely different country. I'm not referring to coming home and doing more chores around the house, the yard, or at your kids' schools. I'm talking about truly engaging with your family as a husband and father. Much of what you can do for your daughter is simply to engage her in conversation and listen. Men often talk little, but they listen more. Your problem-solving brain can analyze what your daughter tells you, and you can help her think of ways to smooth over volatile situations" (136).