Over the years I have settled on some priorities in life that enable me to continuously grow as a husband, dad, and leader. My hope is that every man would consider these priorities to lead well in his family. I understand we all have different personalities and relationship dynamics. Not all men are “Type A” outgoing personalities and that is ok. Many good men that I know are laid back and at the same time married to a woman that is much more outgoing with a strong personality. That doesn’t make these men less a leader than others. Each of us can lead well in our own way to walk the road God has in front of us. That said, here are my current top 5 daily priorities as a leader, in no particular order.
1. Spend Time Around Jesus.
Things are just better when I am consuming pages of the Bible to the same degree as I consume coffee. But reading is only part of what I mean here. Spending time reflecting on how these words flow from the page and into how I live my life is essential. I currently have a long commute to and from my office which enables me an opportunity for a lot of reflecting. And when I say reflecting, prayer is also a huge part of what I mean. Just talking, asking, and working things out while consciously focusing my mind on the God of the universe.
2. Pray with My Wife
I always pray FOR my wife. But now I also pray WITH my wife. This great because she knows that I am focused on who she is, how she is doing, and interested in what she has to say. Years ago when I was still earning a paycheck to pay for tuition at Dallas Theological Seminary, a professor there I admired named Dr. Stephen Bramer challenged his married students with a simple point: It is better to go to bed when your wife goes to bed and get up early while she sleeps than it is to stay up late reading and writing papers while she heads to the bedroom alone. He made a great point, which essentially reminded each of us guys to make sure our wife not only had a seminary student living in her home, but also something that resembled a marriage! Working in a church environment and being a dad of small children means that our time to pray together is going to most likely revolve around bedtime and early morning. Taking Dr. Bramer’s advice helps us to connect at the end of the day, so that we stay focused on our marriage and caught up with one another’s lives in those busy seasons.
3. Teach My Kids About Jesus
As I write this we are in a down economy and it is election season. That means jobs and the lack thereof are a huge target each candidate places over the heart of their opponent. The word “Outsourcing” is incredibly negative right now, because it means the loss of a job, a home, peace of mind, and tax revenue for our increasingly deficit laden government. With that in mind, I know I cannot simply “Outsource” the spiritual development of my own children to childcare workers, family, friends, or even the church. I have to be a tangible consistent example and representative of Jesus Christ to my entire family. My kids need to see my pray, hear me sing, know I’m reading, and most importantly spend time around me as I live out my faith in the world around me. From teaching my kids a Bible verse, the meaning of a song, or just reflecting on something that points to Jesus, I’m doing what I can to lead well here.
4. Create An Encouraging, Safe Environment
I can’t shield my family from the realities of the world we live in. They’re going to realize that this world isn’t safe like our home is. They’ll be aware that unlike mom and dad, there are people that cause harm to others. And somewhere, someday, some bozo out there is going to say something unkind to each of them. That said, home doesn’t have to be that place. Home gets to be a place where they can have ideas, ask questions, share the rights to the TV remote (within reason: the NFL is going to trump a lot of other stuff), etc. My wife chose to give up working (and paycheck) be be present with our kids in our home. Man I love that. She teaches them things, laughs with them, plays with them, and is building up a lot of memories in their lives. Those memories don’t have to be people calling names, parents shouting, or at times even worse, parents indifferent. As parents we are the biggest supporters of our kids, their strongest champions, and their loudest cheerleaders, without apology. My kids will always know that regardless of how cool their family appears at each stage of life, that they are 100% backed up in this home.
5. Get Out And Enjoy Life
Most of my best memories involve being somewhere with family members doing something new. Disney World, Camping in the Adirondacks, wandering around the Irish countryside, making the most of the summer heat in Texas, etc. I’m not going to let my kids have their biggest memory of their dad be a guy glued to a laptop, or an XBox, or on a couch in front of a TV. We may not always have seasons where we can afford 5 star hotels and exotic destinations, but we can get out and laugh and learn somewhere, together, consistently. My wife and I agree on this: we’ll sacrifice income and “opportunity” to make sure our kids have good parents, and to make sure our marriage is one we can point at and say: “We do this right; copy us.”
Those are my current “Top Five” priorities. What are yours?