I (Matt) am in a men’s faith sharing group that is focused on becoming better husbands and fathers. It’s a Catholic group and we’re using a workbook called LEAD, published by a ministry called Fathers of St. Joseph.
Recently, via Zoom, we were discussing the most important roles that we have: to protect, to provide, and to teach. In reflecting on our discussion, I’ve come to believe that this challenging time affords all of us (not just fathers) a wonderful opportunity to fulfill those roles in more intentional ways. After all, many of us have much more flexibility in our calendars right now, enabling us to focus on that which is truly important. Let’s look at each of these roles a bit more closely:
Protect: Clearly this Covid-19 virus requires all of us to be very diligent in protecting those we love. But as we emerge from this time let’s remember that protect has a much broader meaning as well. Are we protecting not just the physical wellbeing of those we love but also their dignity and self-worth? Are we using this time to affirm their inestimable value and their gifts and talents? Here’s an idea for all of us: tonight, instead of more television or Facebook time, how about sitting down with your family members (live or via Zoom) and discussing each person’s unique gifts and talents. I bet at the end of that conversation there will be a palpable (and positive) change in the way your family relates to one another. Let’s come out of this time with a new appreciation of what it means to protect those we love.
Provide: Yes, in our roles as spouses and parents we provide for the material needs of our family. That is a primary reason that we all work hard at our jobs. But sometimes our jobs can become too important and we begin seeking our identity through them. It’s so important to remember that our identity is not derived from our occupations but from our vocations – as spouses, parents, siblings. At work we are all replaceable, hard as that may be to admit. But at home we all are irreplaceable. Provide for your family’s material needs but provide also for their emotional and spiritual needs. Show them in tangible ways that they are the most important people in the world to you. By doing so you’ll be providing what is most important.
Teach: Do we see ourselves as teachers? We are whether want to be or not. So, what are those around us learning from the way we live our lives? What virtues and attitudes do we want to “teach” by the way we live our lives? We all remember the saying, “I can’t hear your words because your actions are speaking so loudly.” Teach the most valuable lessons of life – how to love, forgive, laugh, give, share and rejoice. But do it through your actions, not your words.
Each of us writing our own life story and every day is a page in that story. Let’s all write each page carefully because they sure are being read carefully by those closest to us.