It was a confusing time. He enjoyed running a lawncare service crew through high school and thought he might continue that because it was pretty good money. A father-figure pushed the idea of a college education but that seemed financially out of reach and he did not like school that much. He had a dream of being a Navy pilot like his dad, so enlisting in the military seemed a good option for consideration. It was decision time.
When is enough formal education enough? Over the last several decades we have heard the mantra, “Everyone should go to college!” While many have been served well by completing a good college education, many other young people have incurred significant student loan debt while pursuing an education that was not conducive to gainful employment. As young adult children face decisions that impact the trajectory of their lives, particularly around education and subsequent career/job choices, and as they gain access to credit that comes with a cost that needs to be well understood, a dad’s transition from ‘Coach’ to ‘Counselor’ must be navigated well.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life. – Proverbs 6:23. The commandment is relationship with the Lord, lived in marriage & family and with others; Teaching is formal education, life lessons, skills and extra-curricular activities; and, reproofs are the affirmations and corrections on the journey called life. A healthy relationship with children in their late teens and early twenties is the key to having a good dialogue around interests, unique giftedness and how formal education might complement the whole picture. Discussion around these issues should be candid but when it comes to decision time, it is the child’s decision. The reproofs will come. There will be good decisions and bad decisions, encouragement and discouragement. Dad is a ‘coach’ up to decision time, from there he is a ‘counselor’ that prays, encourages and answers the phone when it rings for advice.
A father-figure ‘coached’ the young man up to the point of a decision. They discussed viable vocations, including building a lawncare company. They met with military veterans and talked about skills learned, serving country and the potential for education assistance down the road. And they visited a couple of junior colleges. They looked at costs associated with the next level of education and financial assistance available. There would be no ‘wrong’ decision. It was a matter of discerning the right ‘fit’ for him, the right trajectory for the next chapter of life. A door opened for the young man to attend junior college on an athletic scholarship and he made the decision to go to college.
Prayer guide: Father, thank You for Your word and Your love for us. Looking back over the years I am still amazed at how You showed up even in bad decisions I made. It is clear that You are at work in all things for the good of those who love You (Romans 8:28). We may not understand or appreciate the ‘good’ that You orchestrate to shape us for what we cannot see. But You are God and we are not. As fathers, You granted us the wonderful opportunity to raise kids, early on as a ‘teacher’, then as ‘coach’ through the school years. As a ‘counselor’, we get a glimpse of what You must feel as we glorify You through our actions and as we dishonor You through our bad decisions. Strengthen me to become the man, husband and father You expect me to be. Equip me as a faithful father to PASS the BATON well to the next generation. Amen.
A faithful father navigates well through the seasons of fathering.