If you were to come across “The Best Father in the World” would you be able to identify him in the wild? What does this guy look like? What does he do? Maybe he is…
- Successful in business but not too successful
- Very fit but not obsessed with going to the gym
- The coach for all of his kids’ sports but not in a needy sort of way
- Hip and “with it” but not in a dancing on TikTok sort of way
- Often taking his kids fishing with bamboo poles, a la Andy Griffith and Opie
- Never too busy to play and have memorable conversations with his kids
- Always vacationing or planning the next amazing trip with the kids
- Kind like Mr. Rogers but also ripped like Dwayne Johnson
- A dad who never fails—especially in front of the kids
I have never met this guy. I don’t really want to. Okay, this guy doesn’t exist, but we dad types walk around feeling bad because we’re not that guy. Just stop it. Now this is just one man’s opinion, but I’d like to tell you a scenario that describes a pretty good dad. Let’s shoot for that. “Pretty Good Dad.” That feels more realistic and more hopeful and much healthier. In fact, let’s not capitalize that. Makes it seem too lofty. Let’s just call the goal pretty good dad. Here we go.
- Pretty good dads reject their instinctive pride
- Pretty good dads fight against their own selfishness
- Every dad fails a lot. Pretty good dads fail well—a lot.
Let’s chat about the failing well part today. Failing is really not an option. We fail. It just happens. There are some myths that we guys hear in our heads that are not true and really quite toxic. One of the worst myths is “If I fail at anything, no one will respect me.” So occasionally, maybe often, we act like we did not actually fail. The technical term for this is—silly. It’s just silly. Everyone knows when I’ve failed, so if I pretend that I didn’t but I really did—I just look silly. A much better plan is to do a Jiu Jitsu move on my failure and actually benefit from it. I call this the “Reverse weaponize a bad thing to turn it into a good thing.” I don’t really call it that but you get the point. Let’s practice failing well, which in turn teaches our kids to fail well, and on it goes. The first part, which might just be the most difficult for you is…you must embrace that as a believer, an apprentice of God, and a child of God, that God is absolutely crazy about you. He adores you. You make Him laugh when you are funny. You make Him cheer when you move toward Him. You make Him sad when you sin and move away from Him. It’s about relationship, not achievement or lack of failure.
Think of a toddler. He pulls himself up on the coffee table for the first time. You, the father, look up and see that he is upright though wobbly. What do you do? You call wildly for Mom to get in here and watch this amazing display. You hoot and holler. You cheer the little guy toward you—keeping just enough distance to force him to step out on his own. He is laughing cuz you are laughing, and because you are motioning for him to come to you, he believes that he just might be able to do it. He takes one step and tumbles. He is nervous, disoriented, and sensing possible failure and rejection. He does half a push up and looks up, wondering what mom and dad think about his little failure. They are shooting video with their phones and cheering him on! Mom is doing her crazy dance on the couch, and dad just scoops him up to kiss his little chubby neck because the father is just nuts about this kid. The baby realizes that he did not just fail, he succeeded because he moved toward his father. It was the greatest success yet in his young life. The goal here never was walking—it’s moving toward the father.
Get ready for your next failure. Don’t plan it out… just be ready when it happens by accident. When you do fail, and everyone in the car is looking at you—follow the pattern.
My Part (1% of the work)
- Surrender to God
- Remember that God is just nuts about you
- Pray for help and forgiveness
- Apologize to everyone involved
- Clean up any mess you made
God’s Part (99% of the work)
- Redeem my failures in such a way that it actually draws me closer to God
- Free me from deception of being trapped by my sin
- Use my surrender to totally alter my soul into a more Christlike condition
- Redeem my surrendered sin so it ends up blessing those around me
Let’s say I fail in a level 7 sort of way, right there in the car so everyone could hear it. I really did it. Everyone is looking at me. It’s already done, and I can’t take it back. I am tempted to blame it on someone else or pretend the obvious failure did not happen, like I have hundreds of times before, but I pause this time. I remember the vision I was given of me being the guy God just loves to pieces. Then I surrender to God. I pray for help and for forgiveness. Then I apologize to everyone in the SUV who witnessed my failure. Then I do whatever I need to, to clean up the mess I made. That’s what men do. There is no way to do the math on this. Our part is miniscule. Surrender our sin and silliness to God, and God does amazing, gigantic miracles and often uses our past sins to offer hope to others. It’s miraculous. This is stuff any pretty good dad can do, and it will result in eternal things getting altered for the better!!! Every pretty good dad can do this.
Our families don’t need some crazy kind of amazing guy that doesn’t exist anyway. They need us to be pretty good, very loving, very surrendered to God, and failing well more and sooner. If we do our 1% part of surrendering, God will do the 99% of the transforming and forgiving and redeeming. Pretty good dads surrender to God. Our really great God does all the heavy lifting. That’s a pretty good deal if ever I heard one. Oh yeah, and remember, God is just crazy about you. Happy Father’s Day.
You can read other Father’s Day Insights from Pastor Dave Carl here on Parenting Pathway.