When I saw The Lord of the Rings the first time, I was blown away. I asked a friend of mine if he’d seen it. He said no. He was familiar with the story and knew watching it—specifically watching Gollum—would be too painful for him. Seeing Gollum mesmerized by the ring and continuing to hold onto it while it destroys him would be too much. My friend said he had seen too many people hold onto things that consume them, leaving their lives in tatters. I still love The Lord of the Rings, but I’ve thought about what my friend said many times in the years since the movie premiered.Anything that has an influence on us as dads tends to impact our families as well.
The reality is we all hold onto things we need to give up. Maybe the things we hold onto don’t cause us to suffer consequences as extreme as Gollum’s, but they still negatively affect us. Anything that has an influence on us as dads tends to impact our families as well. What would life look like if we simply gave certain things up and embraced the sacrifices of being a parent? If we want to be great dads, here are 5 things we need to give up.
1. Our Time
When we have kids, we need to adjust how we think about our time. In other words, it’s no longer ours. We are responsible for the lives of others and that’s going to take most of our time. Can we still have time to ourselves or enjoy doing something we love? Of course—in fact, I’d encourage it. But that needs to come second to the time that needs to be given to the health of our families.
2. Selfish Desires
Our desires need to be second to the desires of our family members. That doesn’t mean your desires should be irrelevant, unimportant, or ignored. It just means that fulfilling your desires should come second to helping ensure the well-being of those you have a responsibility to love and care for. Otherwise, your desires will cause your relationships to deteriorate and become distant.
Your kids need you and the stability you can provide. Reckless behavior puts you and them at risk. If you are no longer in the picture or not engaged the way you could be, it can lead kids to act out, struggle in school, or have developmental challenges. Also, remember that you are their model. They will do what you do. The more you engage in reckless behavior, the more they will.
When my wife and I told our counselor she was pregnant, he said, “Start letting go now.” Our kids are their own people, with their own wills, desires, goals, and dreams. We can’t control their feelings, destiny, or even their behavior. We can’t force their obedience and the more we try, the more they will anchor in, push away, become depressed, and long for the day they’re free of us. What we can do is love, train, and guide them.
5. Our Lives
Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) We can attempt to do life our way or we can put our lives in the hands of the One who created the universe, who created life, and who created us. Not only does God know more about how to live life, He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows how to mold and shape us into the men we’re meant to be, and how to live in a way that is rich, full, and exciting.
Sound off: What are some other sacrifices of being a parent?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing you would hate to give up or give away?”