Father Like a Fisherman….

What virtues are most important for fatherhood? How do we know what is the best approach when raising and disciplining our children? Should we lean towards justice or mercy? Patience or swift action? Every child and every parent is different, so how do we know which direction to go?

The other night Rachel and I watched an interesting movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Here is the brief overview as listed on IMDB.com:

“A fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realize a sheik’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible.”

There is a key scene in this movie that can greatly aid to this developing mystery of how to properly father a child. When the main character, Fred, meets the Sheikh for the first time they go salmon fishing at the Sheikh’s estate in Scotland. Being from the desert, Fred asks the Sheikh how he started salmon fishing and why he enjoys it so much. The Sheikh replies, “Fishermen only care about 3 virtues. Patience. Tolerance. And humility.”

It hit me instanty while watching that scene—what if I could focus my duties as a father on the 3 virtues of fishermen? Patience. Tolerance. Humility.

Patience--bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

Tolerance–a fair and objective attitude toward those whose opinions or practices differ from one’s own.

Humility/Humble–modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance/courteously respectful.


What if I, as a dad, could bear more annoyance without losing my temper or getting irritated? Every child has their time when their annoyance or irritation level rises to new heights. I can sometimes be what some would call a “high-strung” individual. Each of my children are very different, and the one that is most like me in personality (and gender :) ) can push my buttons in mysterious ways. Life could be so much better for all of us if I could continually choose to bear more without becoming irritated.


You parents out there know what it’s like. You tell your son or daughter not to do something or how to do something, just to see them forget 10 minutes later. What if I could  maintain a fair and objective attitude toward them? Amidst the growing pains and forgetfulness of a young child, a fishermen’s dose of tolerance would make fatherhood immensely more effective.


How can you be humble or have humility toward a child? To someone you’re in authority over? Let me ask this question, what if we continually and intentionally put our importance below our children’s? Rachel and I were just talking the other night of how we are the product of the helicopter parenting generation. (I’ll discuss helicopter parenting more in a later post.) Many of our generation are extremely self-indulged and self-focused. I am looking in the mirror on this one. It is very hard for me to put the needs of others ahead of my own interests. This shortcoming is directly why I need to intentionally put my importance below my children’s. In short, my children need to be more important than myself. (This must be done in a delicate manner so as not to create another self indulged generation.)

Patience. Tolerance. Humility. The way of the fisherman may help me to better navigate the rivers of Intentional Fatherhood.



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“The Girls”…..

I am the proud father of 1 boy and 3 girls. Their names are Christian, Selah, Jadah, and Adriah. I needed to state that because I recently found out that when I refer to my children I actually only have 3 of them. Christian, “the girls,” and Adriah. Somehow my common speech when describing my family has left out the names of my twin girls Selah and Jadah.

This was pointed out to me a few months back by one of my best friends, Nate Woods. Nate doesn’t have any kids of his own yet and has a very dry sense of humor, so it actually surprised me when he pointed this out to me several times (apparently I refer to Selah and Jadah this way often). After the 3rd time of him telling me, I realized he was serious and that it happened all the time.

This realization of my phrasing made me think about how I look at my children individually.Or how sometimes I may NOT look at them individually.

Parents of identical twins can attest to the difficulty of this task. If I spend a lot of time with Jadah, it’s hard to make sure I create some time for Selah because in some ways I feel like I was just with her!

They look the “exact” same, are the exact same age, and are at the exact same stage developmentally. Normally if you go from spending time with one child to spending time with another, these variables will change to add a little diversity to your interactions as a parent.

It makes me recognize how extremely intentional we need to be in our interactions with our various children. What cheers one up on a bad day may make another one sad. My son’s favorite meal may be one of my daughter’s least favorite. (I am NOT suggesting making them separate meals. You’re home is not a made to order restaurant.)

They are each very distinct individuals, and I need to make sure that I constantly see and praise that individuality–that unique design. For me, maybe it simply starts with consciously making sure I refer to my children as Christian, Selah, Jadah, and Adriah?

May we as fathers and mothers see our children as the unique individuals they were created to be. May we parent them based on their needs and avoid the concept of parenting children and in exchange parent each child. And may we accurately learn and recite each of their individual names with as few mistakes as possible. :)


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A Trip with My Son to See Grown Men Cry…

My last post talked about the need to get away with your spouse for extended 1-on-1 time and how this can be good for you as a couple and your kids. You can read the full post here.

Flipping that around, I believe it is very positive to create special occasions where you spend 1-on-1 times with each of your kids. Coincidentally this would also create absence for a short time from your spouse–and they do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder……hopefully!

A week after getting back from the trip Rachel and I took to Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to have one of these experiences with my son Christian. On this particular experience we had the unique privilege of seeing a host of grown men cry. Let me explain.

I have the privilege to work at my alma mater, Indiana Wesleyan University. On a Saturday afternoon just over 2 weeks ago we watched in anticipation as our men’s basketball team won their elite 8 game in the NAIA national tournament and would be heading to the program’s first ever final four. That day a good friend who also works at the university, Roger Alcock, and I decided we would make the 500+ mile drive to Branson, MO the next day to watch the semifinal game on Monday. I decided this without first checking with Rachel! Thankfully she was fine with me leaving for a few days on one condition—-I take our 5 year old son with us. At first I was apprehensive…but then I realized what a great memory making opportunity this would be for me and my son!

Christian’s best buddy, Jace, is the son of the men’s basketball team coach, Greg Tonagel, so Christian was more than a little excited to go and spend some time with his friend.

Christian sleeping in the back of the car on the way to Branson.

Christian sleeping in the back of the car on the way to Branson.

Fast forward a little bit—we had a good trip. We got to do some fun things in Branson and stay with amazing friends, Joel and Morgan Trainer, who were way more than hospitable. Then we got to witness our men’s team win their semifinal game by more than 20 points!

I don’t know what it is about men and sports. Like the final scene in Field of Dreams, which I’ve referenced before, why do we get choked up over “having a catch” with dad? Maybe that’s it. Maybe playing catch, shooting hoops, or tossing a football remind men of times when they first began to connect to their dads as little boys. For many little boys, sports may be the only time they saw their dad show a hint of pride towards them. For many, the simple act of throwing a football back and forth is easier than saying the words ‘I love you,’ yet it means the same thing.

On Tuesday night, Christian and I had the opportunity to see our men’s team win their 1st national championship and then see players, coaches, fathers, and sons cry in each other’s arms. Was it a momentus event? Absolutely! But I don’t think it was this single accomplishment that made these sons and fathers (and a lot of moms too) cry. I believe it was years of investment all culminating to this single event. I’m sure the dads were watching their sons and picturing the hours upon hours of them shooting in the driveway and the endless 1-on-1 matchups that eventually led to the day where father could no longer defeat son. I saw the many tears, shed some of my own, and cherished the privilege of sharing this with my son. May I get to have many more quality experiences with my children such as this one.



Go Wildcats!!

IWU Men's Basketball after winning the 2014 National Championship.

IWU Men’s Basketball after winning the 2014 National Championship.

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