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Be The Man... To Your Kids
D. B. Ryen

I have a drawing that my five year old son made for me. It lives in my briefcase and goes with me everywhere - tucked away behind work notes, billing sheets, and medical reports. Every so often I catch a glimpse of it.

And smile.

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Seeing myself through my son’s eyes is often a different perspective from what I see in the mirror every morning. Notice the huge biceps - I guess I’m always flexing to him. And look at that great hair! He doesn’t see my receding hairline or the gray streaks. Is that how I smile? Pretty handsome. There’s no spare tire around the midsection or stress-induced wrinkles around the eyes. To him, I’m the strongest man on earth, ready to save the world at a moment’s notice.

When I was younger, I used to see my own dad the same way. At the dinner table one evening he broke a chicken bone to show us what bone marrow looked like. I watched in awe as he snapped it in half with his bare hands - I couldn’t believe how strong he was! My grandpa, too, had superhuman strength. Anytime he put on his work gloves, you’d better watch out: he could lift entire logs and stack them into a fort for my brother and me. These were men I aspired to be like. Brave, smart, godly, and fun. 

Now I’m in their shoes, with little eyes watching my every move. Paul talked about the perpetual spotlight we’re in:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Heb 12:1, NIV)

Some of those “witnesses” live under our roof and call us “dad”. In fact, they’re the ones who watch us the closest and often see us when we’re not at our best.

There are days I’m not who I want to be. I come home from work completely worn out, with mental energy at zero and no more words left to speak. But there’s dinner to prepare, the floor to sweep, and a wife to support. Yesterday the spring on the garage door broke - just another thing I have to fix before morning. And then there are the kids with their endless energy: waiting by the window, running into my arms, wanting to show and tell me everything they’ve done that day. Some days I just don’t have the strength to take another step. But it’s often at our weakest that we’re needed most.

The greatest way we will influence the world in our lifetime is through our children. How we invest our time and energy into them is an investment in God’s kingdom. Our attention, our affection, our playfulness, our stories, our superhuman strength - our kids need to experience these things regularly. 

Let’s get our priorities straight, shall we? Leave the broken garage door another day. The paperwork can wait till tomorrow. Be the ironman your son sees you as. Be the hero your daughter dreams about. The Lord is working in you to father your children with godliness and perseverance, both for their benefit and yours. The world is full of absentee fathers who letting those precious years slip by. But your kids are watching you, drawing pictures of the person they want to be just like.

So let your biceps bulge. Be the man your kids see in you. 

© D. B. Ryen Incorporated, January 2022.