When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. ( 1 Cor 13:11) These words from the apostle Paul need to be in every young father’s vocabulary.
As a young man, I loved games. I loved board games, card games, video games. Ultimately those games that I loved were more about selfishness than they were about relaxing and connecting with those with whom I played.
For the first few years of marriage, I continued to be a “gamer.” My wife and I had a lot of arguments over those times that I would spend in front of a computer screen or out with my friends playing ball. Before you say it, husband, it wasn’t that she didn’t want to let me have fun, it was that I was still doing these activities as though I were a single man. I was neglecting her as well as our young family. I still understood as a child.
When Paul talks about those three things (speaking, thinking, understanding), it was in the greater context of love. Love for others requires a maturation into thinking less about yourself and more about those around you. This maturing is vital for you husband, for you father as you start to grow into a man who leads.
As my wife and I are now entering our 13th year of marriage, I still play the occasional video game, in fact, the missus got me the latest Madden for Christmas last year. I have even been known to still play the occasional game of pickup basketball when I can find the time. But the motivation and the priorities of these “childish things” have changed. Maybe it is that our family size is now hovering around the double digits, or maybe I have just outgrown them, but either way I see that it was a necessary step into adulthood.
The more progress into that middle stage of life the more I am becoming aware of those childish things that need to be put aside. As I do, I can also see in me a transformation, my appetites for those things are diminishing, and my desire to do things that are beneficial to my wife and family are growing.
At this point let me caveat with the truth that I am not perfect. I still take those selfish opportunities to “play”, however as I seek to put away childish things it amazes me what I am capable of accomplishing. Also, when I use those childish things as a means to connect with my family and friends I see a benefit in those activities that as a young man I took for granted.
Childish things can manifest themselves in ways that look different to each father. Dad, take some time to reflect on what it is that you are still clinging to from those days of a being a young, single, childless man. Think about what you need to do to put them aside so you can start being changed. Doing so will allow you to become the husband and father that you need to be.
Let me know in the comments below what your “childish things” are and until next time, lead your tribe well.