The Strongest Man in the World
There is no neutrality when a man remembers his father. For better or worse, a father has incredible influence. Dads, here are four ways to bless your children that can create a completely different trajectory in their lives.
A Father’s Day Reflection
By Guest Writer Roger Thompson
Men’s Pastor at Berean Baptist Church
The World’s Strongest Man is not a competition. If you are a dad, you have already won the title!
Stu Weber, in his book Tender Warrior, asks a piercing question: “What is the most powerful word in the English language?” He makes a good case:
How about the word ‘Dad?’ Just walk through what you know about life. When it comes to power in a youngster’s world, I’ll put my money on the word ‘Dad.’ As words go, hope, vision and sacrifice don’t mean a whole lot to little ones, but the power of the word ‘Dad’ reaches far beyond a youngster’s childhood. In fact, it spans generations.
There are two ways to recognize power. One is to see it at work. The other is to measure what happens when it is gone. Either way, the word ‘Dad’ is pretty potent. Present or absent, positive of negative, the power of the father is incredible.
The Ultimate Influencer
Did you just relive a few flashbacks from your boyhood? You remember exactly what happened. You were shaped by the words said. You know the powerful influence your dad has had on your life. He was your hero. For some this lasted only for a very short time, or in your fantasy, and you’ve missed something important. For others, he is still the most powerful influencer in your life.
For many of us, no other man, no other position, no other title carries the throw weight of the father—even if he wasn’t there for you.
I’ve seen men around a campfire start sharing about their father’s influence, and every man there goes to a deep, inward place—a place of gratitude or sadness, joy or anger, laughter or tears. There is no neutrality when a man remembers his father.
If you’re a father, knowing this truth from experience, you can determine to use your incredible influence in your children’s lives for good. As the strongest man in their lives, you can string them on your bow, aim them in the right direction, and launch them as arrows into a world that desperately needs sons and daughters who are fathered with intentionality. It all comes down to practicing a simple and repetitive discipline: the blessing.No other man, no other position, no other title carries the throw weight of the father—even if he wasn’t there for you.Click To Tweet
A Father’s Blessing
The power of the father’s blessing is seen both positively and negatively in the story of Esau and Jacob. They both craved their father Isaac’s blessing, but Jacob received it and Esau did not.
There were some material and leadership perks associated with this Old Testament form of blessing, but there was also the emotional, fatherly affirmation that came along with it. When Esau didn’t receive it, he cried with anguish: “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father” (Genesis 27:38).
Esau went away not just weeping, but also bitter and vengeful. I think we can draw a direct line from this ancient incident to the instruction of Paul: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger” (Ephesians 6:4).
There is an anger that seethes in the unaffirmed, uncoached, unblessed heart of a child. The Spirit of Christ in a godly father can create a completely different trajectory by intentionally infusing blessing.Here are some simple, practical ways to bless your children that you can start today.Click To Tweet
4 Ways to Bless Your Children
Blessing your children is not complex. The fact that you have read this far is an indication that you already have the motivation. And you may already practice some or all of these. But let’s list them* together to underscore their collective power.
1) Meaningful Touch
Everyone feels closer, more cared for, and loved when they are touched in meaningful, appropriate ways. If you have young kids, it’s easy and obvious how to do this well. When they are small, pick them up. Hold them. Hug and cuddle them. Press your face to theirs.
As they grow, revise your methods, but don’t stop. Even for grown children, touch communicates a sense of safety and love. (Note: Psychologists tell us that affirming our sons through touch is just as meaningful as it is for our daughters.)
If you’re able, nothing beats proximity as the best context for communication. When is the last time you showed your kids that you care for and support them through physical touch?
2) A Spoken Message
Being present isn’t enough. Even your hard work of providing for your family is not enough. They need to hear actual words from you. Here are the three golden phrases you can never say too often:
- I love you.
- I’m proud of you.
- Good job.
Ask any group of men or women what they wish they would have heard from their father, and these three phrases will always pour out from hungry hearts.
Don’t assume that your children already know that you feel this way. They need to HEAR it.There is an anger that seethes in the unaffirmed, uncoached, unblessed heart of a child.Click To Tweet
3) Attach High Value
Take a step back. Look at the life of your child, whether they are a toddler, teenager, young adult, or a father themselves. What have they brought into your life that wouldn’t have been there without them?
What admirable qualities do you see in their effort, their ability to make friends, their interests, their character? The classic statement by Ken Blanchard still holds: “Catch them doing something right and tell them about it.”
Maybe you need to express gratitude to your child for his or her obedience or something they did to serve you. BUT this is not so much about performance, grades, or skill as it is about the joy and value this person brings to your life through the relationship. Focus on those things.
4) Picture a Special Future
Childhood is a sequence of firsts. First time in the pool. First ride on the bus. First report card, team try-out, piano lesson, final exam, term paper, prom date.
A father’s blessing can instill courage and confidence—not because you can take away the risk, but because you can help your child or young adult see past the immediate challenge and into a rewarding future. Remind them of what you see in them. Tell a story of your own past that can encourage this next big step they are facing.
I have been blessed with two daughters. As they grew up, we created some special times to specifically bless them. Father’s Day was often the time for this. When they were small, I would hold each one separately in my lap, and bless them in the presence of the family. We also practiced this when their grandfathers were present, asking them to bless their granddaughters. It wasn’t just once; we did this all through their years in our home.
But it doesn’t have to be a special occasion. In fact, all of these way to bless your children can be used on a regular or situational basis: whenever the occasion requires it. Make blessing the native language of your home. Bathe your children in the powerful, blessing words of their father, no matter their age.
This is not the meaningless gushing of “atta-boys” or compliments. It’s not the empty flattery of participation trophies. Blessing is the deliberate investment of practical guidance and love that will stay lodged in the memory and character of your child forever.
THE BIG IDEA: Make blessing the native language of your home.
Strong man, Dad: Take advantage of your position. No elected official can come close to your power and influence. No teacher’s lessons will be remembered like your life lessons. No coach can shape a life like your words. Be the blessing you were designed to be! And watch God’s blessing permeate your family.
*These forms of blessing are drawn from and expanded on in The Blessing by Gary Smalley & John Trent.