I have child number four arriving around three months from now. Many people think my wife and I are crazy to have more than two children. I love kids. I see my children as my greatest investment and legacy I will leave on this planet. Why not have more? One thing is for sure, the more children we have the greater the responsibility that falls on me as a dad. I love being a dad but one of the most difficult things to do is be the kind of dad my kids need and deserve. I cannot fail. Too much is at stake! Like most men my job will demand as much out of me as I will allow. I could literally work around the clock and it would only create more work to be done. As I am seeking to balance work and home here are a few helpful lessons I have learned over the years that may be helpful for you.
1) CHOOSE TO CHEAT – Andy Stanley wrote a little book with a big impact. The Book is called “Choosing to Cheat.” The basic premise is that we all cheat. That is, we all make decisions every day to give up one thing in order to gain something else that we consider to be of greater value. We will cheat our family or our career. Most of the time we do not realize we are choosing. We have to work late to finish a project, we have to be on the phone while at home to deal with a work situation, and the list is never ending. Every time we work late or work at home we are taking time away from those little ones that need our ears, hugs, and presence. If work is king in your life then by all means stay at work. If you want money holding your hand on your deathbed, then go make all you can. If you are a dad then hopefully by now you know what I know: Money is a great servant but a terrible master. Your priorities should be simple. Here are mine: Jesus, wife, children, work.
2) MENTALLY PREPARE FOR YOUR SECOND JOB – My first job is great. I am a pastor. I preach and teach God’s word, I pray for and with people, I encourage the broken, give leadership to the church, and a plethora of other responsibilities. This is my first job. When I clock out as pastor I clock in at home. When I finish job one I am tired. I would really like to go home take a nap, eat dinner, and do something that requires nothing of me. I have children…checking out is not an option. So after job one I go to job two. Job two is my favorite job. I am the Chef Executive Servant of the Hermann home. I come home to hug my wife and children, cook if needed, play with children, bathe children, read to children, pray with children and then just talk to them and find out all that is in their hearts. Every day I must remind myself when I am on my way home from job one that job two is even more important and the stakes are too high for me to fail.
3) PRAY FOR WISDOM, GUIDANCE, AND STRENGTH – Being a dad comes with impossible demands. You are a coach, teacher, cook, doctor, wise sage, preacher, tea party attendee, art instructor, bike riding coach, potty trainer, expert fisherman, and counselor. You need help to be all that your children need. Each day you must pray daily for wisdom, read God’s word, learn to apply it to your family, and seek wise counsel from other dads and men who are in the struggle with you.
4) GET RID OF UNNEEDED TIME KILLERS – I think there are at least three great time killers that most dads need to eliminate. TV, the Internet, and excessive hobbies are perhaps the greatest enemies to you investing the time needed in your children. I do not know how anyone has time to watch TV and be a parent. We got rid of cable soon after we were married. This is perhaps one of the best decisions we have ever made for our family. If you do watch TV you should hold off till after the kids are in bed. The second killer of time is the Internet. While I do not watch Cable I make up for poor parenting in time spent on my IPhone. I really struggle to get off of social media, ESPN, and other time wasters. I have to consciously tell myself to put my phone down and not to pick it up while at home. I am still a work in progress in this area. The third time killer is excessive hobbies. Your children are young once. It is a brief moment in your life. Soon they will be grown and gone. While you have this window you need to make them your hobby. When your kids are grown you will have ample time to hunt, fish, and play golf. I understand we all need some time to relax. If you must be a hobby guy make sure you do things you can take you children with you to do. Play 9 holes instead of 18. Go fishing from 6 AM – 9AM and be home as the kids are waking up on Saturday morning. Be wise and understand that if you are not careful you may be chasing a ball while your children are headed for a path of destruction.
5) LOVE YOUR WIFE – When the kids are in bed it is still not “your” time yet. You need to connect with your wife. Check on her heart. Hear her needs and seek to love and serve her. A healthy and loving relationship with your wife is the foundation on which being a great dad is built. She must know that you love her more than anything.