In light of Father’s Day, we extend to you the second part of Jed Coppenger’s post, “11 Lessons Every Great Dad Should Teach Their Kids.” If you missed Part One, you can view it here. We pray that these posts will be both an encouragement and challenge to dads of all ages.
11 Lessons Every Great Dad Should Teach Their Kids: Part Two
6. Hard Work Isn’t Heroic, It’s Normal – Kids don’t naturally work hard. Kids naturally play. While childish playing is a good thing for kids, if they never learn to work hard, it’s a bad thing. And one of the best ways for kids to learn to work hard is to see their dad work hard. I’m grateful that I can’t remember a time in my life that my dad didn’t work hard. Whether he was having a good day or a bad day, it was a working day. Because hard work isn’t heroic, it’s what we were made to do. Great dads show their kids that hard work isn’t heroic, it’s normal.
7. Engaging Conversation Isn’t Easy, But It Is Necessary – Us kids didn’t always want to talk. We didn’t always know how to talk. Dad would ask us how our day went and we’d provide one word answers. But Dad made sure things didn’t stay that way. I remember him throwing a tennis ball around to us at dinner. If you caught the ball you had to talk. Eventually, thankfully, we learned how to talk without tennis balls. In our technologically savvy world, conversation is becoming more and more of a lost art. But great dads will help their kids understand that although engaging conversation isn’t easy, it is necessary.
8. Learning Is Privilege, Not A Burden – Whether it was trivia games at dinner, facts along the way, or the endless amount of books in our house, my dad made it clear that God didn’t just give us a brain for sportcenter (as important as that is), but to learn. My dad never seemed to lose that childlike curiosity. If he didn’t know the answer, he would learn about it. And when he learned about it, he would share it with us. Our family was a learning community. And because of this, dad taught us that learning is a privilege, not a burden.
9. Genuine Confession Is More Important Than False Perfection – My dad, like every dad—except for Jesus’ dad—failed. Every dad loses their cool and says things they shouldn’t, at some time or another. Fathers that fail in some way are not rare, but it is rare to see fathers consistently and genuinely confess their sins and failures to their kids. Rather than act like dad’s sins aren’t as serious as the kids’ sins, great dads show their kids the seriousness of their sins by being the chief repenter and confessor of sins in the home. My dad, by God’s grace, did this and showed us that genuine confession is more important than false perfection.
10. Have Fun Along Your Way – We took a lot of road trips as a family. I remember one trip where we were 5 deep in a Ford Taurus all the way from Indianapolis to Las Vegas. Good times. But along the way we would do what we always did on trips. We’d stop and throw “ragball football’s” in parks, see cool spots like the Grand Canyon, and play all kinds of games that they bought for us along the way. No matter where we were heading, Dad made it fun along the way. And it was this way in the rest of life. Dad understood that it was just as important for us to play together as it was to pray together. Great dads show their kids how to have fun along the way.
11. Even When Times Are Bad, God Is Good – As much as we’d like to avoid pain for ourselves and our kids, we can’t. As much as we’d like to be able to teach our kids about the goodness of God without going through tough times, it’s impossible. The crazy thing is that the best lessons are learned in tough times. I’m thankful that my dad had a view of the goodness of God and the providence of God that didn’t end when bad times walked through the door. I can remember as an unbelieving son my Dad facing very difficult times. By God’s grace, my Dad’s response to difficult times was one of the most significant things God used to bring me to himself. Great dads teach their kids that when times are bad, God is still good.
My dad wasn’t perfect, but he was—and is—great. I hope to pass these lessons on to my kids as well. Hopefully, you will as well.
Post by Jed Coppenger, member of B21 and lead pastor of Redemption City Church outside of Nashville, TN.