He had spent a couple of summers with his uncle. They were not anything out of the ordinary – the boy did chores like mowing and other small projects around the house. He enjoyed every minute of it because he got to be with his uncle, a father-figure in his life. This summer would be different because they were going on a 10-day backpacking trip. While they would be participating with a group of Boy Scouts, he knew there would be a lot of one-on-one time with his uncle.
Boys and girls need a father or father-figure to invest time in them. When dads are not engaged, kids are twice as likely to drop out of high school, boys are ten times as likely to have behavioral problems, and girls are three-times as likely to become teen mothers. When dads are engaged, kids perform better academically, are less likely to be influenced by peer pressure, and in general, are more comfortable in their own skin. A father has been uniquely gifted to influence his children’s life journey. Making sure it is a positive influence requires time and intentionality.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to Him … – Matthew 4:1-3a. The rest of the chapter is Jesus rebuking the devil’s physical, emotional and spiritual temptations, recruiting his first disciples and proclaiming the good news. What Matthew does not tell us about is the one-on-one time Jesus had with His Dad across those forty days and nights. We know that as a result of that time with His Father, He had strength to stand against the devil’s schemes and boldly move forward with His ministry. Jesus was hungry but He was not weak. He continued to have regular one-on-one time with His Dad throughout His journey – “He went up on a mountainside to pray.”(Mark 6:46); “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”(Luke 6:12). Similarly, regular one-on-one time committed by a dad to his son or daughter, by design, encourages and equips them well for life in a noisy world.
The boy enjoyed that 10-day trip. Isle Royale National Park is a beautiful wilderness and backpacking toughened the city-boy up a bit. Lots of life-lessons were learned on the trail but the most valuable takeaway was the life-long bond established with one of the most important father-figures in the young man’s life. The trip would serve as a permanent marker for their maturing relationship with each other and with the Father. The one-on-one time commitment an uncle granted his nephew planted a seed that continues to bear fruit through similar trips five decades later.
Prayer guide: Lord, I thank You for Your example of being available for, and spending time with Your Son. The father-figures You provided in my life were available and willing to spend time with me at critical junctures on the journey. I confess that too often I have been unavailable for my children and too busy or distracted to spend the valuable one-on-one time with them. Forgive me. Help me raise the bar for fathering individually and corporately in my church to spend the time needed to encourage and equip a generation in the balance. Amen.
A faithful father schedules regular one-on-one time with his wife and kids.