Imagine for a moment a boy walking into his friend’s house for the first time. It’s not just any ordinary house; it’s an estate. There are marble floors, vaulted ceilings, and 6,000 square feet of antiques. Also on the property is a tennis court, a swimming pool, and private exercise quarters.
At first, all the boy does is gape. Once he composes himself, he turns to his friend and asks the million-dollar question:
“Wow. What does your dad do?”
One reality of the world we live in is how a family’s standard of living shines a spotlight on the father. Whether a family is living the high life or barely scraping by, we take our observations and automatically make assumptions about a father’s success (or lack of it) in the workplace.
And while fathers have always been under the microscope this way, the pressure is worse today because we’re a wealthier, more materialistic society than previous generations. It’s not just the upper-class enjoying luxuries – it’s the middle class, too. Big homes, fancy vacations, and designer clothes for the kids are norms in many communities.
While it used to be enough for a father to meet his family’s needs, he’s now expected to meet their every want, too. The problem with wants is that they’re never enough to satisfy us. The more we have, the more we need, and after a while, the line between our wants and our needs gets blurred.
Considering this culture, it’s easy to see why families are deeper in debt than ever. Why the mid-life crisis for men is typically career-related, and not being as far advanced as they expected to be. Why a job loss can wreak havoc on a man’s ego. Why husbands and wives argue over the work-home balance. A wife wants her husband to provide nice things and be home by five o’clock; he counters by saying that making more money requires longer hours at the office.
But even in this environment, there is hope, hope that begins when a father realizes that work is not his identity. His worth is not his salary. As children of God, we’re all born with as much worth as we’ll ever have. Our worth is inherent, so no matter what we do, or how high our salary climbs, our worth remains the same.
So for all you fathers out there, working hard to be the breadwinner, don’t think you’re only as good as your status symbols. Don’t get so caught up in creating a legacy at work that you neglect your legacy at home. Most of all, don’t compare yourself to other dads. Blessings come in many forms, and just because someone has a bigger roof over their family’s head doesn’t make them superior.
When thinking about the kind of man you want to be, imagine your child taking a different approach when asked, “What does your dad do?” Imagine your child thinking a moment before replying:
My dad’s an architect, but what he does is coach my little league baseball team and go to all my basketball games;
What he does is eat lunch with me at school;
What he does is come to my dance recitals and give me flowers afterward;
What he does is tell me stories from when he was little, stories that help me with problems I’m facing;
What he does is pray over me, and tell me about God’s unconditional love;
What he does is read my favorite books to me at bedtime;
What he does is take me to breakfast on Saturday mornings, just us;
What he does is help me with math – he’s a genius at that;
What he does is tickle me, and hug me, and tell me how much he loves me; what he does is swell up with pride when I do something great; what he does is work hard even though he’d rather be playing with me; what he does is take care of our family, keep us laughing, and calm my mother down when she’s losing it.
Yeah, my dad’s awesome. But enough about him. What does your dad do?
To me that’s an answer a father should aspire to. That’s an answer that’s better than any career achievement and guaranteed to leave a friend gaping and green with envy. It is what a father does at home – not the office – that makes them a great parent.
So to all you daddies loving your children wholeheartedly, keep at it. Engage in their lives and reap the rewards. Thank you for your sacrifices, selflessness, and commitment to family. I can’t imagine the pressure of being a breadwinner. Sometimes, when I think about it, I gain a whole new respect for men.
I’ve been blessed and inspired by many wonderful fathers (my husband, father, brother, and father-in-law included). While it takes all kinds of dads to make the world go ’round, what the good ones have in common is a passion for their loved ones. It’s not their paycheck they’re known for, but how closely they pay attention to what matters.
When a man does that, he’s a hero in my book.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on June 10, 2013