I was honored to be asked to be the speaker at an event called “Super Saturday with Dad” hosted by the Richardsville Elementary Family Resource Center. I am posting the text as originally written here, mainly because it sounds better written than spoken.

For some reason the word “Super” makes us think about Superheroes. When we are young we often pretend to be our favorite hero – running around in the yard, jumping off beds, even wearing a cape to the store. However, as we grow older we quit imagining that we have special powers and abilities. We trade in our cape, first for a backpack and then a briefcase, and our x-ray vision is exchanged for good study habits. But then we become parents. And let’s be honest for a minute. I believe that deep down we all want to be a Superhero for our children. We look for those moments when we can swoop in and save the day.

This is fairly easy when they are young; when they still run to meet you at the door, when they think that you are invincible, when “my dad is better than your dad,” when no toy is too broken and no problem too large. We love being able to save the day, and maybe that fills that place in our hearts that is looking for significance. Soon, though, our children also grow up and stop believing in heroes. They discover the truth about us – that some things are too broken, some problems are too big. We make mistakes, and maybe your dad is better than mine.

So what are we to do? Is it time to let the dream die? Is it at this moment that we stop pretending to be someone we aren’t? Should we put on our glasses of anonymity for good and be normal like everybody else? Are we going to blend into the background of our children’s lives and allow the memories of our hero status to remain in the past?

I want to suggest today that we redefine what makes one a hero. Rather than simply limiting our idea of a hero to one who performs a single, extraordinary feat, why don’t we bestow hero status on those who, over a long period of time perform a countless number of ordinary ones? These events taken alone may not stand out in the landscape of their memory, but when added together will provide a solid foundation on which they will be able to build a life for themselves. Today I want to suggest three super powers that we all have that will make us heroes to our children.

Undivided Attention

We have many demands on our time, and many responsibilities that at times weigh on our shoulders. An increase in technology can fool us into thinking we can fulfill several responsibilities at once without a decline in quality. We aren’t staying late at the office, but we are able to bring our office with us to the ballpark, to the restaurant, and even on vacation. While we may be able to keep our productivity up while still spending time with our family, the message they receive is that we’d rather be somewhere else.

John Eldredge is the author of a book named “Wild at Heart.” In this book he suggests that our children have a central question they are asking throughout their lives, and only their father can provide the answer. Boys grow up asking “Am I man enough?” We see them seeking the answers to these questions as they try to pick up heavy things, show us their muscles and work to beat us in basketball. Girls want to know “Am I lovable?” They want to show their dads when they are dressed up, when they do their own hair and make-up. The problem occurs when we as fathers don’t provide the answers to these important questions. Then they seek answers from others in ways that can be destructive and harmful. While this is a frightening prospect, you have the power to be with your child and give them the undivided attention they need to answer these questions.

Genuineness

I think the Kryptonite of a superhero dad is the fear of being real. We don’t want to admit to our kids that we are human. We want to deny our faults, we are afraid to say “I don’t know,” and we go to great lengths to avoid the dreaded phrase “I was wrong.” We act as if acknowledging our vulnerability makes us less of a hero, when in fact this is the very thing that our kids need the most. What we fail to remember is that our kids are not afraid of success. They don’t need a model for being right. They are afraid of failure, and it takes a true hero to show them how to be graceful in defeat, to admit when you are wrong, and to say “I’m sorry.” This is what will prepare them for the obstacles they will encounter at home, in school and in life.

Selflessness

Perhaps the greatest power that you have to offer your children is the most difficult to maintain. Selflessness is a pattern of giving up what I want for the good of others. Whether it is giving up a football game for your wife, giving up a meeting for your children or giving up a day off to help your friends, selfless giving of yourself will make a lasting impression on your children.

We will always have opportunities to do things for ourselves, but chances to change the lives of our children are limited. Jesus said in the gospel of John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” What better way to be a hero for our children than to prove our love by doing what is best for them rather than serving ourselves.

I don’t mean for this to be overwhelming. Being a hero isn’t a one time thing – it is a process, and you are doing it today. Taking time away from mowing the yard or sleeping in or whatever else you could have done today to spend the day with your children is exactly what makes you a hero. You are to be commended for this, and I just want to encourage you to continue.

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