Movers recently helped my family transition from one home to another. I watched as one of the movers—six-foot, three inches, and 300 pounds—carried an entire chest of drawers up the stairs by himself. My 6-year-old son was amazed and asked, “Dad, is he stronger than you?” I quickly and quietly replied, “No, son, he’s not.”
That’s correct. I lied to my son about my physical strength. When he gets older, I’ll have to explain. You and I know we don’t have to lift the biggest piece of furniture to show our strength. But do we know what real strength looks like? More importantly, what are we teaching kids about strength? Here are 3 ways to show your kids real strength.It takes real strength to understand where your kids are coming from.
1. Practice patience.
You probably don’t have to think long to recall a time when you’ve had to tell your kid something for the 50-11th time. “Do your chores,” comes to mind. I say that at least 65 times between 7 and 8 o’clock nightly. It’s frustrating to explain something to your kids so many times. I mean, they have a chores list, for crying out loud. It’s easy to blow up yet again. But Psalm 14:29 says, “A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.” The foolish, or weak, thing to do is to get frustrated and blow up. Sure, it feels like strength in the moment, because your kids might pick up speed and do their chores. But it takes real strength to be calm when your kids pretend they don’t hear you, while they sit staring at iPads, and you must explain, again, why it’s important we don’t have piles of trash (or dishes or clothes) around the house. It takes real strength to understand where your kids are coming from, and to practice the patience required to gain understanding.
2. Be consistent.
When you’re inconsistent as a dad, your kids miss out on feeling secure. Maybe your mood shifts up or down with the stock market. Guard against leaving your kids to wonder what they can expect from you. Inconsistency may have all the best intentions. It may look like strength when you make promises to do this or that fun thing with your kids. But real strength is backing up your words with actions. Real strength makes good on promises. Your kids will feel the security that comes from your consistency. Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” In the same way your kids can turn to you with anything when you’re consistent, you can turn to God. How much do you turn to him?
3. Sacrifice everything.
Consider a general on the battlefield with his troops. It’s been a long day and they’re gathered for a meal. Who takes the first bite? Not the general. Great leaders wait until everyone else is taken care of before joining in. He shows real strength through sacrifice. You show weakness when you don’t cut your selfish desires or ambitions once they start to cut your time and engagement with your kids.
Sure, it feels like a strength when you see guys traveling all the time, playing golf every evening, going out every weekend, and spending their days vying for that next promotion at work. But don’t confuse strength with selfishness. Show your kids real strength by sacrificing your time—not to work more or make more money, but to spend more time present and engaged with them. Jesus modeled that sacrifice, not selfishness, is real strength. First Corinthians 10:24 says, “No one is to seek his own good, but the good of the other person.” Are you working hard for yourself or for others?
Sound off: In what ways are you teaching your kids about real strength?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you think makes a person strong?”