Dad moved his family five times in her first nine years of life. His daughter had attended four different schools by the time she entered the fourth grade and he was still traveling about 75% of the time. He had not made one parent-teacher conference, not one school activity and even missed her stage debut when she got the lead in her second-grade production – 468 marbles lost.
On their last move, a friend shared a story of how his dad had put jars of marbles on the mantle above the fireplace in his home, one jar for each sibling. When he was born, his dad filled his jar with 936 marbles and put it on the mantle. There are 936 weeks from birth to age 18 and his dad would remove a marble every Sunday acknowledging another week had passed. The jars of marbles were visible reminders of the window of time Dad had to invest in his children.
The dad took that story to heart and decided to be very intentional with the 468 marbles left in his daughter’s jar. He began praying with his daughter and son every night he was home. He put their school events and other activities on his calendar and did his best to make as many events as he could. As they got into their teen years, he initiated spiritual discussion weekly around the pastor’s sermon or one of his devotional readings and he participated in the sexual integrity studies with each child at the church. He dated his daughter regularly and they went on a week-long hiking trip in the mountains where they enjoyed extended one-on-one time away from the noise of the world. Today the jar is empty of marbles but full of love and the blessings of the Father waking up one dad.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4, NIV. The last half of this verse is the key. The only way dads can bring kids up in the training and instruction of the Lord is by prioritizing their physical presence, being engaged emotionally and leading spiritually by example. Failure on any of these fronts is abdication of responsibility that is not to be abdicated and exasperation will be rampant in the home. Losing your marbles is part of life. Invest the time well and the father-child relationship will be blessed.
Tips to Lose Your Marbles Well:
- Pray for your children daily and with your children nightly;
- Initiate spiritual discussion or family devotion time weekly;
- Schedule regular one-on-one time with each child – short duration & longer trips;
- Publicly bless your child at key stages on the journey.
Prayer guide: Lord, I confess my perspective has been caught up in the world – the next promotion, the next raise, the next opportunity professionally. You blessed me with a beautiful wife and children and I have taken these blessings for granted. No more. I will prioritize my physical presence, be engaged emotionally and lead spiritually by example by Your grace and certainly for Your glory. Amen.
A faithful father loses his marbles well and is blessed in the process.