Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem if we don’t intentionally model success. I wrote the following during the 2012 Summer Olympics:
“Do you think someday I will be as fast as him?”
This is what my six-year-old son asked as we watched Usain Bolt win gold in the 200 meter race last night. Way to put me on the spot, kid.
That’s a tough question to answer when your son is grinning at you with that imaginative glow in his eyes. I didn’t want to belittle him or his six-year-old imagination that can still envision himself standing on top of an Olympic podium… I remember having that same dream when I saw Carl Lewis in 1988. On the other hand, I don’t want to fill his head with garbage. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter how much he trains or works or runs, Jack just doesn’t have the genes to be the fastest sprinter in the world. I guess that’s my fault. Well, half my fault half his mom’s fault.
“You can do anything you put your mind to” may be the most-often quoted lie. Maybe second to “No, that doesn’t make you look fat.”
I answered him by saying something like “That would really be something if you could run as fast as Usain Bolt because no one else in the history of the world has ever run as fast as he can” and we went back to watching the Olympics. See how I didn’t answer the question and avoided crushing his dreams? I’m pretty good at deflecting. At least I thought I was good at deflecting…he was obviously still thinking about it because a few minutes later he asked another question that was easier to answer but a lot more to think about.
“Dad, someday could you teach me to run as fast as you?”
In the span of 2 minutes he had gone from an unrealistic dream of being the fastest man ever to the all-to-obtainable goal of being as fast as a thirty-year-old, slightly overweight guy who likes to go for a three mile run a few times a week. Who we compare ourselves to makes all the difference, doesn’t it?
“Jack, I will run with you as much as you want, and I hope you’ll be faster than me someday.”
So back to the current topic…
- Every dad knows it—our kids learn from us.
- Every dad gets it—our kids want to be like us in many ways.
- If we’re honest, every dad all also understands that sometimes our kids say “I’ll never be like that.”
I wonder how much it would change the way I interact with my kids if I realized that I am my kid’s measuring stick for life. How they compare to me will be their gauge of both success and failure. If I kept that thought forefront in my mind, I wonder if I would have a better chance of being their idea of success.
It’s easy to point a finger at obvious evil, but perhaps even “good dads” are teaching much more important lessons than we think we are.
1. Fathers shape our impression of God
The Bible calls God our “Heavenly Father” many, many times. Jesus referred to God as “Father” over 100 times in the book of John alone. Paul called Him “Father” over 40 times in his writings. Many of the ways we interact with God mirror our own experiences with our dads—provider, model, teacher, judge, legislator, comforter, protector.
How we treat our kids will impact how they feel about their Heavenly Father.
- Am I angry? My kids will probably think God never is satisfied with them.
- Am I uninvolved? My kids will probably believe God is never there.
- Am I selfish? My kids will probably live as if God is uncaring.
- Am I harsh? My kids will probably consider God a tyrant.
But the flip side is true…
- Am I loving?
- Am I kind?
- Am I consistent?
- Am I just?
- Am I patient?
The more I am like my Heavenly Father, the more realistic a picture my children will have of theirs.
2. Fathers shape our impression of all authority
People who grow up in homes without a dad are 20 times more likely to be imprisoned. There are all kinds of socioeconomic reasons that play into this, but I can’t help but think that a general lack of fatherly authority in their lives has led them to a mindset that rejects all forms of authority.
But having the wrong kind of authority could greatly damage a child’s perception of his own future role as an authority figure. Fathers who are harsh or lacking love in their authority cause an even more negative impact than the absent father. Dr. Stuart Brown studied serial murderers and found that, almost without exception, their fathers had forced extremely unrealistic regimens of work and rigid rules upon them at very young ages while failing to show any compassion or love. I wonder how many people who abuse their power as adults got the idea of rigid, uncaring authority from their fathers.
Those of us who understand that we must model proper authority to our children can still be a part of the fathering problem…
I am convinced that improper fatherhood is the largest social problem in the United States. I believe it is the root of the vast majority of other problems that we face.
If this universal switch existed, the world would change immediately. Many problems would be drastically reduced and some would be all but non-existent:
- Violent crime
- Welfare-dependent families
- Domestic violence
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Teen pregnancy
- Dropping out of school
This list is obvious. If sperm-donors were replaced by productive leaders of families, if deadbeats provided for those for whom they are biologically responsible, if a temporary sexual relationship was never the commencement of a human life…the world would be different.
But it’s easy to point a finger at obvious evil…
- Claims to be the ultimate moral authority
- Rejects all other religions as outdated revelations that have been trumped by their authority
- Intentionally and purposefully seeks out the most gullible and impressionable members of society to teach this new doctrine
A few months ago I was reprimanded for using the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid.” The person kindly pointed out that many of the Jonestown victims in 1977 did not know they were committing suicide and, therefore, should not be criticized for their decision. This point was expressed very clearly in a Washington Post article by James D. Richardson. Now with better knowledge of the details, I more strongly believe that the phrase very accurately (perhaps with less sensitivity toward lost lives than should be afforded) depicts the exact mindset that it is intended to portray. Of course many of the Jonestown victims didn’t realize they were harming themselves. Some were force-fed the poison and the others wouldn’t have done it if they knew it was unsafe. And that’s the point. They were convinced that what they were doing was beneficial while placing their trust in a madman. Following the direction of a strong leader who will cause harm without your knowledge is exactly what we mean when we say someone is “drinking the Kool-Aid.”
Unfortunately, many unknowing victims are being force-fed what I believe to be an even more dangerous cocktail of ideas and ideology that will condemn their souls individually and American society collectively.
In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul warned about the types of wickedness that we will experience in the last days:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)
The beginning of the list is almost entirely comprised of personal character problems that negatively affect other people. The last quality mentioned is “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” This simply means that they claim to live morally but this morality is not based upon any supernatural authority.
Paul continues to describe the wickedness of the last days by discussing the attempt to recruit the vulnerable and impressionable:
For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:6-7 (ESV)
Although I do not believe Paul was specifically speaking about modern America; our government, media, and education system definitely fit the description:
- Greedy, self-centered, discontent, abusive, ungrateful, dishonest, pleasure-seeking people abound.
- All three branches of the federal government have repeatedly denied the moral authority of any supernatural power for many decades.
- Our entertainment and news sources have claimed to be the authority of what is right and proper behavior, but have completely rejected any supernatural or innate reasoning for these beliefs.
- Our government-sponsored education system has taught this foundationless morality to two generations of impressionable children and is continually becoming bolder.
When I say American society has been “drinking the Kool-Aid” I do not mean it as an insult or as an insensitive remark recalling the horrible death of 918 people, I am simply pointing out that the general population of the United States is a victim. I am not blaming the victim, but I will call attention to the perpetrators. I will speak out against the popular immoral ideas perpetrated by American media. I will denounce our public education system for its unapologetic promotion of the Godless religion of humanism.
I won’t be drinking the Kool-Aid and I will be warning those around me that it’s poisoned.
Here’s the most embarrassing thing I can tell you about myself:
I am the best foosball player I know.
That’s right. You heard me. I do not personally know anyone who could best me at maneuvering a plastic soccer ball using only 11 armless men impaled by a steel rod. I developed this skill when I was 17.
In October of my senior year of high school, a friend and I found two old, broken foosball tables that were being thrown away and pieced them together into one working set. It’s a good thing that we kept the left over plastic men because our varsity basketball team played on that table so much throughout the course of the school year that we had to replace over half of the men. As a 17 year old I spent countless hours honing my ability to pass off the walls, fake shots, hit angles, defend every possible play from specific positions, and play equally well with either hand from any position.
I can’t count the number of times that skill has been valuable to me, but I can ballpark it around…
My foosball ability is embarrassing because I now recognize what it represents—the fact that most hobbies require learning very specific skills and I chose a completely useless one.
If I had that year to live over I would not be the best foosball player. Instead I would possess the following skills:
- Type correctly with my hands in the right position
- Play the guitar
- Play the piano
- Speak a language other than English
Each of those skills have been developed by millions of young people because they chose to enjoy hobbies that allowed them to learn a useful skill. These realizations have changed my outlook on my responsibility to the next generation. I’m not sure my goals as a parent and educator have changed, but I am expressing them differently after wrapping my head around the ideas in these two posts.
I wrote this one about a year ago:
Marc Neppl wrote this one in October:
I state my goals this way now:
I want those I am responsible for educating to love God and develop every ability He gave them into a useful skill that He will allow them to exercise.
Church is a big part of my life. I lead a life group for young (and youngish) adults. I go to church every week. I am on the media team. I hear sermons. I ask questions. I answer questions. Every week I am challenged with one or two things that I realize I need to work on personally. I leave these times of spiritual encouragement refreshed and determined to do better.
But I rarely make any actual changes to my life, mindset, or faith before the next Sunday.
I’m not down on myself or confessing some deep secret, that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it always has been and I’m guessing that’s the way it is for most Christians. I know the truth and I care enough about it to learn more; I’m just not really great doing anything about it. This is not an issue of “hearing and not doing” it’s more of a settling for where I am without striving to get better.
When my wife and I started hosting a Bible study in our home for our life group every week, one of my goals was to do something that would cause ME to want to improve my spiritual walk every week. With the help of the D6 Curriculum from Randall House (that’s a shameless plug because I really believe in what they’re doing), I am now attempting to make a specific action plan each week for myself while presenting the opportunity for others to do so as well. It is usually as simple as making sure I notice when I am tempted to do certain negative actions and having a specific, pre-planned response. Some week it involves setting a specific time to engage in some positive action or thought process. Sometimes my plan has to be more involved because the topic, like this week’s theme of putting on the armor of God, is such a core part of the Christian life that I needed to outline 11 individual actions to accomplish six specific goals:
Action plan to “put on the armor of God”
Purpose: Our spiritual protection against evil doesn’t just happen, it must be intentionally worn so that I can resist and stand firm.
1. Belt of Truth
God’s eternal, absolute truth is the centerpiece of my armor. Every other defense is held together by his unchanging Word.
Suiting Up: I will start each day this week by considering God’s plan for humanity and my life:
- God created me in His image
- I chose to sin and separate myself from God
- Jesus died to restore that relationship
- If I seek first His will and righteousness, He will take care of everything else
- I must view my actions through the lens of God’s holiness
2. Breastplate of Righteousness
Doing what is right in God’s eyes protects me from my own sinful desire to choose self-gratification rather than what pleases Him.
Suiting Up: I will seek to eliminate specific sins from my life.
- I will ask God to convict me of wrongdoing.
- I will confess failures to God and others who see my sins as soon as I am convicted.
- I will attempt to recognize situations and events that could lead to unrighteousness before they occur and avoid them if possible or resist if necessary.
3. Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace
Understanding that I have accepted a place in God’s salvation plan gives me peace that provides a strong footing for all of my other activities.
Suiting Up: Spend time each day praising and thanking God for His salvation.
- I will actively listen to music that is specifically about salvation each morning as I get ready for work instead of ESPN Radio.
- I will intentionally think about and thank God for salvation each time I pray…even at meals.
4. Shield of Faith
Faith is my act of believing the truth that God has already established. Being intentionally full of faith will help me to defend against misinformation that could threaten my spiritual life.
Suiting Up: While mentally rehearsing God’s truth, I will explore areas of doubt that might indicate a weakness in my faith.
- Do I really believe that my sin is my fault?
- Do I really desire to seek God’s righteousness first?
5. Helmet of Salvation
Understanding and accepting God’s redemption plan is the ultimate defense against Spiritual attack.
Suiting Up: I will actively remember and re-live my salvation experience.
- While listening to music about salvation, I will attempt to apply the lyrics to my specific circumstances.
- I will be specific in my prayers of thanks for my salvation.
- I will re-affirm my commitment to God each day.
6. Sword of the Spirit- the Word of God
I cannot fight a spiritual battle on my own. My weapon must be from a Spirit source and more powerful than I.
Suiting Up: I will actively read and meditate on the Word of God each day.
- I will read God’s Word each morning before I begin my morning routine of getting ready for work.
- I will choose a single theme of the passage I read to meditate upon throughout the day and I will set a reminder on my phone to force me to recall that theme at some point in the day.
I plan to be fully armored for one week beginning on Thursday, October 23, 2014.
I have read through the book of Ruth several times recently and have seen some great applications for my own life. I like to condense lessons that I learn into bite-sized nuggets that I can actually remember and meditate upon. Since the digital equivalent of this is a Tweet, here are several things I learned about the book of Ruth in exactly 140 characters each:
- 1:16-17 Ruth had more than a family connection with Naomi, she embraced her culture and God. This commitment could only be severed by death.
- 1: 20-21 Although Naomi returned to God’s perfect plan for her life and God used her circumstances greatly, her personal joy was sacrificed.
- 2:2 While she could have felt entitled, Ruth took personal responsibility for her mother-in-law’s well-being and volunteered to gather food.
- 2:3 Ruth “happened to come to the part of the field that belonged to Boaz.” From the human perspective sovereignty might appear coincidence.
- 2:4 Boaz seemed to take personal responsibility for everything that happened in his field while still giving God the credit for the results.
- 2:11-12 Boaz told Ruth that he was gracious to her because of her kindness to Naomi. It is usually easier to be generous to generous people.
- 2:20 Although she had pointed out God’s judgment earlier, Naomi was quick to recognize the Lord’s hand of provision, grace, and forgiveness.
- 3:12 Naomi and Ruth seemed to think that asking Boaz to be a redeemer would surprise him, but he had obviously thought of it and had a plan.
- 4:5-6 Whether the rightful redeemers wanted to act seemed to hinge on their knowledge of Ruth. Boaz knew her and didn’t hesitate. #Character
- 4:14-15 Ruth’s faithfulness and Boaz’s kindness brought Naomi full circle: from leaving her inheritance, to repentance, to full restoration.
- Maybe I’m just dense but I’ve never noticed that the theme of the #BookOfRuth is Naomi’s redemption not Ruth’s separation from the Moabites.
What do you think Naomi would have tweeted? After she got Ruth to show her how, of course.
The All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe cannot simply focus on the big money sports of the United States. The last four words of my title imply that I must have a broader perspective; therefore, I will now turn my attention to some of the most glaring problems of other sports. The following regulations will take effect immediately on all levels of competition:
- All position rules will be abolished. Six players on each side have three hits to get the ball over the net. That’s it. No forced rotations, front line, back line, players who can’t attack, etc. No other sport forces players into a certain position or role simply by rotation them through. Now volleyball doesn’t either.
- All professional and international games will have TWO field referees and two linesmen. How dumb is it to think that one referee can possibly be in good position to make every call when chasing the best athletes in the world around a 120 yard field?
- A golfer’s shot routine should reflect his skill level. Any golfer who repeatedly takes more time to line up shots, read putts, examine the ball’s lie, check the wind, envision the shot, take practice swings, or plan shots than their skill level will forfeit all expectations for silence and stillness from playing partners. They may walk, talk, swing, and take shots while the slow golfer is playing provided they have warned him using the phrase “You’re not as good as you think you are” or “This isn’t the PGA, Tiger.”
Recreation League Sports
- Any team that does not show up for a scheduled game without notifying the league or opposing team will not be permitted to play in that league for the next two seasons. All members of the roster will be banned.
Youth Sports Spectators
- Any adult who continues to yell at an official, coach, or opposing fan after an official warning will be required to attend umpire/referee classes and obtain their official certification before attending another ball game on any level.
- Any adult who yells at or publicly insults a minor on an opposing team will be banned from all sporting events for life. This ban may be appealed; however, all appeals to overturn this ruling must be accompanied by a donation to the offended child’s college fund.
Flagrant Fouls (All Sports)
- Any player, on any level, who commits a flagrant, illegal act that injures another player will be suspended from play until the injured player is medically cleared to play.
I’d like to hear your ideas to make sports better. Please leave your ideas in the comments section below.
Thank you for joining me once again. I anticipate that my life-long term as All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe will have many memorable days filled with parades and feasts in my honor. Although my previous press releases have been met with great enthusiasm, I imagine that many of those celebrations will be on the anniversary of the proclamations that I am going to make today regarding the most-watched sport in the United States, American football. Since fans are extremely passionate about both collegiate and professional football, I will be addressing both the NFL and the NCAA today.
These guidelines will be effective immediately in the National Football League:
- A single Point After Touchdown will be awarded to any team choosing to take the point. No more kicked extra point attempts. The 7th point will be credited to the team’s kicker for fantasy football purposes.
- If a team wishes to go for two, they may choose to neglect the free PAT and attempt a two-point conversion according to current NFL rules.
Field of Play
- The digital first down line will be placed on the field and will be considered the official line to gain. I have a few ideas of how this could be accomplished:
- Fiber-optic material should be included in the artificial turf. It could be activated by a linesman holding a stake to the ground on the sideline (much like the chain gang now).
- Laser beam from a pole (similar to the chain poles they have now) on one side of the field to a similar receiving pole on the other. This system has the added benefit of being able to sense when it has been interrupted like the invisible lasers that stop the conveyor belt in the grocery store.
- Disappearing spray paint like they use in the World Cup. An official could very quickly push a sprayer across the field after the ball has been spotted. This is clearly the most low-tech solution and could slow the pace of play, therefore, it should only be used if the first two solutions prove to be scientifically impossible.
- Ball tracking technology (a combination of GPS, stationary cameras, and the computer program used in tennis) should be used to indicate exactly where a ball is in relation to the goal line. An instant replay official should know with certainty if the ball is across the line while viewing every single frame of game footage. I’m envisioning an exact distance from the goal line displayed in the corner of the screen on every single frame. I would love to hear Ed Hochuli say “The ball carrier’s knee hit the ground when the ball was exactly 12.4 cm from the goal line. 3rd”
These guidelines will be effective for NCAA football beginning with the 2015 season:
- The national championship will be determined in a 16 team tournament as seeded by an independent panel. I would like to see how satisfactory this year’s 4-team selection process is before deciding who will serve on that panel.
- Champions of all ten NCAA conferences will receive an automatic bid. The additional six teams will be selected by the panel.
- Round of 16 and round of 8 games will be played at the home field of the higher seed. The home team must make at least 15% of the total seats available to the visiting university. The final three games will be played at a neutral site with 30% of the total ticket sales being outsourced to each the two universities.
- Seeding of the tournament will be up to the sole discretion of the panel, however, only champions of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC 12, and SEC must be seeded 1-5, guaranteeing them home field advantage.
- If teams are tied at the end of regulation, they will play actual football to determine the winner, not backyard scrimmage from the 25.
- After a coin toss to determine possession and direction of play, a kickoff will start the overtime period. Play will continue for one 15 minute period.
- If the score is still tied at the end of one 15 minute overtime period, play will continue where it left off in sudden death fashion with the next team to score declared the winner.
- All NCAA football uniforms must fit the player properly. Shirts must be long enough to be tucked in and pants must expend below the knee.
- Under Armor will be banned from designing any uniforms after they have repeatedly made Maryland look like a clown at a box of crayons then threw up all over the Terrapins.
The following rules are effective immediately for football games at all levels:
- Television broadcasts may not go to commercial after showing only a kickoff. Touchdown, commercial, kickoff, commercial may be the most annoying part of all sports. Networks may extend post-score commercial breaks by an additional minute to make up for lost revenue.
- Following any touchdown signaled by the referee, the 40 second play clock will start. Excessive celebration will only be called if the celebrating players are not back to their bench area by the expiration of this time.
- Celebratory dances are encouraged for every player scoring a touchdown and required for any player weighing over 250 pounds.
Thank you for joining me once again. It has truly been remarkable to see the sporting world rally behind my initiatives to make the world, if not better, at least more entertaining. In my 24 hour tenure as All Sports Commissioner of the Known Universe I have focused primarily on Major League Baseball. Now that, due to many long minutes of work, the problems of America’s Pastime are genuinely in the past, I have taken my talents to the National Basketball Association.
The following changes will be made to the NBA, effective immediately:
Length of Season
- The regular season will be shortened from 82 to 50 games. Over half of the teams make the playoffs; I don’t think it takes 82 games to figure out the best half.
- No team shall play more than 3 games per week. No one wants to buy tickets to see Tim Duncan sit on the bench because the Spurs have 9 games in 6 days.
- Preseason games, not to exceed two per week for any team, will begin the day after Thanksgiving and the regular season will begin on Christmas Day.
- The following season’s salary cap will be increased by $2 million per team for the conference that wins the All-Star Game.
- Participants in the dunk contest will be determined by fan votes. The eight players receiving the most fan votes must participate or pay a fine of $1 million.
- An off-court official (preferably in a reporters booth or luxury suite) will be assigned to watch the television feeds and will be independently responsible for correcting out of bounds, timing, and any other reviewable calls. The head referee will no longer take time to watch instant replay on a courtside 17 inch monitor. As everyone at home knows, it doesn’t take that long to correct a call when you are watching the game in HD on a 50 inch LCD. Game officials will call the game as normal and will be buzzed if there is a need to review.
- The in-the-booth replay official will also be responsible for reporting players for flopping and correcting fouls called after such actions. Don’t just fine them the next day, get the call correct right now.
- All games played at Eastern Conference sites will begin by 8:30 pm EST. Games at Western Conference sites should begin no later than 8:30 MST. Children should be able to watch the best players on the planet and still get more than 45 minutes of sleep each night.
- Along with their traditional roles in the studio, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith will be responsible for interviewing the head coaches on the court at halftime and following each game in hopes that Gregg Popovich loses it and puts one of them in a head lock.
- Both of Derrick Rose’s knees must be completely surrounded by bubble wrap when not participating in a competitive NBA game.
- Carmello Anthony will be fined at the end of each game according to the following formula: (number of shots – number of passes) x $10,000 when Ns > Np.
- Tim Duncan may only protest fouls in writing.
- All players’ names will be pronounced phonetically. Names that are not pronouncable phonetically will be changed to “Bob.” Here’s a guide:
- durk no-WITS-key (Dallas)
- HEE-doh turk-oh-GLEW (Toronto)
- BRY-an SKA-lah-bryn (Boston)
- LEW-awl Deh-ng (Miami)
- SEERG eye-BAK-ah (Oklahoma City)
- Vlad-ih-mir rad-MAN-oh-vik (Chicago)
You may notice that both of my declarations have cleared other major professional sports out of football season. Please do not infer that I will leave football the way it is. My next declaration will, in fact, make changes to NFL and NCAA American football that will improve the game for both athlete and fan alike.
I want you to remember that I am doing this for you, the fan. As always, any opposing opinions regarding my rulings may be voiced at any of our open-forum discussions—the next of which is in December of 2035.