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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

If I Had Another Shot at It

By T. Ray Rachels
June 19, 2011

“A father,” says the cynic, “is someone who carries pictures in his wallet where his money used to be.”

Charles Swindoll once found himself with too many commitments in too few days. He got nervous and tense about it.

He describes in his book Stress Fractures a time when he was short with his wife and children, inhaling his food at mealtimes, and irritated at unexpected interruptions throughout the day.

His home soon reflected his hurry-up style. It became unbearable.

One evening after supper, his youngest daughter said she wanted to tell him about something that had happened at school. He writes, “She began hurriedly, ‘Daddy, I want to tell you something, and I’ll tell you really fast.’”

Realizing her frustration, he replied, “Honey, you can tell me — and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.”

“Then listen slowly,” the youngster responded.

The innocent wisdom of her answer is good advice for us speed demons who run through our families flashing red lights day after day en route to our agendas, schedules and goals. We’re always in a rush in the fear that something might be gaining on us, forgetting all the blessings we brush past blindly.

If you had a chance to start over with your kids, Dad, to set a firmer foundation for your family’s life, would you do the same things over again? Or, would you make a few adjustments?

Here are a few of my thoughts if I had another shot at it.

• I would more sensitively love my wife and put her at the heart of our family.

• I’d more freely let my kids see that I love their mother. How? By showing respect and special kindnesses to her in my kids’ presence; whispering loving words about her in the ears of my kids; praising her in the presence of my kids.

Security, stability and sacredness about life and relationships are values we can put deeply into our family’s soul. And it’s done well when a dad has open and shameless love for his wife, the mother of his kids.

• I would be a better and more open listener. A kid’s talk can seem like an inexhaustible reservoir of chatter, unimportant and rambling. A kid explains his little hurts, complaints, joys, what he’s excited about. Impatience and/or belittling his feelings and point of view are emotional dream-killers.

One night a small boy tried to show his dad a scratch on his finger. Finally, after repeated attempts to get his dad’s attention, the father stopped reading his newspaper and said impatiently, “Well, I can’t do anything about it, can I?”

“But, Daddy,” his small son said, “you could say, ‘Oh!’”

It’s estimated the average child asks 500,000 questions by the age of 15. Think of it: That’s half a million opportunities to talk to somebody you love about the meaning of life.

• I would find more opportunities to give my kid a greater feeling of belonging. Belonging happens when families do things together, share common concerns, invite everybody to be a part of the party, plan and enjoy special day celebrations, and make people more important than gifts. It’s transforming for a kid to hear prayers being prayed on his behalf, know his opinions are really listened to and valued, and be assured he is important to the family and has a real place at the family’s table.

• I would express more and better words of appreciation and praise. It’s easy to slap a kid’s hand or grouse at him for making mistakes. What would happen if you changed your grousing to giving him words of encouragement and praise?

A friend once said: “If I had a teenager, I would cover him with praise. If he blew a trumpet, I’d try to find at least one note that sounded good to my ear, and I would say a good word about it. I would find something every day that I could honestly brag on. Then I would brag on it.”

Not flattery, but honest compliments. Sincere praise is a confidence builder.

• I would spend more time with my family. In every dad’s week, there are 168 hours. If you allow for 40 hours at work, and another 15 hours for overtime, lunch, and driving to and from work, and then set aside 56 hours for sleep, that still leaves a dad 57 hours every week to spend somewhere and with somebody.

Question: How many of those 57 hours would I give to my family?

• I would laugh more and look for ways to make life more fun. Someone once said, “The best way to make children good is to make them happy.”

Laugh at their knock-knock jokes, at their “why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes, their funny stories; fall for their tricks and crazy questions. I know when I laughed with my kids, our love was enlarged, and the door was opened for doing 100 other things together.

Somehow we manage enough muscle to handle the big things of life, but forget, I think, that life is mostly made up of the little things. I believe it’s a dad’s faithfulness in the small things that most often determines the happiness of his kids.

T. RAY RACHELS retired in 2010 as superintendent of the Southern California District of the Assemblies of God after more than 22 years of service.


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