On Nov 11, Family First had a very special event, specifically catered to parenting for fathers. It was called “Be A Better Dad Today”, presented by the Honorable Professor Gregory W. Slayton, the author of the book with the same title. In it he gave insights on Godly parenting, which was based on his research in many countries, as well as personal experience and Godly insights.
Professor Gregory himself had a unique family background. Coming from a broken home, where his father left the family, he was raised by one of his neighbours, a Chinese Immigrant father, who was a model on how Godly parenting should be.
So he first answers the question on what makes a good father?
Firstly, Professor Gregory explained that riches do not necessarily make you a good father. In fact, he quoted from a case whereby nine of the wealthiest men in America met horrific ends to their life and career. The reason was linked to how they managed their family life. That being the point, he explained that it is not how rich you are but how well you raise the next generation your children up.
Another case study was done in 1900, on a Godly couple known as Jonathan & Sarah Edwards. All their descendants came out to be people of high social standing, ranging from doctors, lawyers, university professors, mayors, governors, senators, even a US Vice President. This was in stark contrast to Mark Jukes a wealthy but godless man. Most of his descendants were criminals and many died prematurely.
So what are the steps to being a good father? It comes with a plan. And every plan comes with vision. Here Professor Gregory introduced what a man’s life vision should be. It includes 3 things:
1) Career Vision
The things that you would like to accomplish in your work life if you had the opportunity.
2) Personal Vision
What kind of person you would like to be, and what people would say about you when you are gone?
3) Noble Family Vision
What your family will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years. As the leader, how do you build towards that goal.
The most important which is often put aside is the Noble Family Vision.
In this Vision there are a few focuses that should be prioritised on, which are relationship with spouse, and children, both in the present and future. The way your children want to remember their family life, as they become adults, and how they will pass in on to their own families, even as they still keep the relationship with you. What will be the core values that hold the family together, and what is truly important in life, which is family.
Psalm 127:3-5 ESV
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
As simple as it sounds, it is not as easy to put in practice, when so many other things are clamouring for our time, whether it be work, friends, and even ministry. Professor Gregory provides 10 tools of Fatherhood which can greatly aid in planning the Noble Family Vision:
- Family First/Family Fun
The word ‘fun’ sounds enjoyable, but in this context it takes a lot of purposeful dedication, especially if you are a father that travels around a lot. In fact, to have the right family fun, it means keeping to the promises you make to your children, even if it means sacrifice away from career. Then there is also dedication to keeping to a designated time. No shortcuts like trying to replace time with gifts such as electronics to distract them. It’s a problem that seems to plague modern day society.
- All-In Marriage
Being a better dad, also means being a better husband. After all your wife is also the mother of your children. One of the few tips which Professor Gregory recommends in an All-In marriage is don’t compare your spouse with other people, to understand her love language and also that divorce is never an option.
3-True Moral Compass And True Humility
Setting a higher moral standard for yourself and family and passing them down to them. By walking the Way of Christ, your children will see that you walk the walk not just talk the talk.
The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.
Relearning the real essence of love which is commitment, fidelity, grace, tenderness. This is true love, not the kind we just see in movies. As we find in the Scriptures,
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
5-Empowering Servant Leadership
Being a father is also being a leader by example, putting the interest of God and others first before your own.
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many
6-Relationship Tools That Work
One of the most important tools in a relationship is listening.
Willing to listen is not enough. We have to listen carefully, and listen actively, trying to understand the message behind it.
A father also must be willing to seek help. Spiritual help from the Heavenly Father, the Perfect Father. It takes diligence in seeking God daily. Find pastors and prayer partners when we are in struggles.
8-Other Good Dads
The best friends are those who share the same journey with you. Other good dads give the best advice. They are there for you to help you, and to always lead you back to a strong relationship with and dependence on God.
9-Optimistic, Never-Surrender Attitude
Never give up. Be persistent, even when there are family problems.
10- Dynamic, Whole Person Support.
A father must also be there to support the children emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually, and not just financially.
The tips that Professor Gregory gave in the quest to be a better dad to all the participants were comprehensive, holistic and practical.
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NOTE: Family First Malaysia is a non-profit organisation that exist to partner with like-minded organisations to RESTORE, RESHAPE and RELEASE men and women to become Better Couples and Parents in the context of traditional marriage and family with a 3F focus: Family, Finance, and Fitness.
All photos were kindly provided by Luxeray Visual Company