In the busyness of life and the continual distraction of daily responsibilities it is easy to allow vital relationships to go unattended. That error is as common as it is tragic.
The last word left ringing through the silence of four centuries before the voice of Christ’s forerunner began to cry out in the wilderness was this: “And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to the fathers lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” This is also a warning of what happens when a father fails to give his heart to his sons and daughters. The result of this failure is a curse on the earth. The daily paper and the evening news spill out the graphic details of this continually. I want my home to be free of that curse. I want my home to be saturated with the blessing of God. I want my children to experience the blessing of God. I want my wife to enjoy it. I want the world to see it.
But how does a busy dad do that? How can I turn my heart toward my children when there are so many distractions and so many responsibilities? I have thought long and hard on this. One reason is because I am always looking for ways to show my four sons and four daughters that I love them. I have to deal continually with the temptation to allow my heart, my time, my attention, and the devotion of my heart to be directed to other good things to the neglect of the best things.
Another reason this is important is that people often ask me how to win and keep their child’s heart because they have not experienced a father’s love. They have never seen a pattern up-close and sustained. They are unsure of themselves. They are lacking a pattern .
I have spent some time considering that question. “How do you turn your heart to your children?” I have come up with some simple steps that may help you give your heart to your children. Here are the three steps. Remember back, imagine forward and seize the day. Let me explain that to you.
First, Remember Back. One way to trigger memories is to get out the old picture albums for the evening. You may enjoy working on memory books as a family. Shuffling a deck of old photos is sure to stir up memories and touch your heart. It is vital that we learn to number our days if we are going to see life from God’s perspective. One has defined wisdom as seeing life from God’s point of view.
God’s point of view and the scriptures say “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” So think of the first time you held your little son. Think of his first haircut. Remember back. Remember teaching your daughter to ride a bike. Do you remember when you took your little girl home from the hospital? Do you remember when you put her on the school bus for the first time? Remember back.
Second, Imagine Forward. Think forward to the day they go away from home. Imagine forward to the day you walk that little girl down the aisle and kiss her good-bye. See the car drive away with the eyes of your heart. Go to her room in your imagination. The closet is empty. There are no shoes on the floor there. The walls of her room are bare. Think forward to the time when the back door doesn’t slam closed anymore. The house stands silent. Bikes and skates no longer clutter the drive. Grass is growing over the place where home plate used to be. Imagine forward to that time.
Imagine even further forward to the time of your death. What thoughts will course through your son’s mind when they lower the lid on your coffin? What memories will he cherish in his heart of the time you spent together? Will he know in the deepest part of his soul that you were delighted in him?
This is the way we have to train our hearts to think if we are going to give our hearts to our children. Remember back, imagine forward, then.
Seize the Day
Finally, Seize the Day. Don’t waste a day. Act on this right away. Make your priority relationships a priority. Leave something else undone but never neglect this. The best way to show love is sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice is to lay down your life. The way to lay down your life for someone is to devote your time and attention to them. It is a powerful thing to give attention to someone. It is a discipline and a rewarding one.
Here is a bonus idea, an additional tip. Make a life-long study and your child. Think through a series of good questions to probe the heart and bring the secret treasures of their heart out into the light. What do they really love? What is at the peak of their hierarchy of values? What do they spend most of their time thinking about? What is their favorite food? What is their spiritual gift? What is their “love language?” What are their longings? What do their hearts long for? What do they crave?
They may not be able to tell you. You will have to devote time and attention to them to come to understand each child.
Never Let Anything Come Between You and Your Child
Finally, make up you mind that you will never allow anything to come between you and your child. Once you have turned your heart to your child determine to draw your child into a covenant arrangement that you will never allow anything to come between each other. Go to a special place and create a special setting and enter into a covenant with them. This should be continually renewed. Watch over your relationship with that little heart. Tend the garden of that relationship. Know that each day as the sun sets the way is clear between your heart and theirs. You will have to seek forgiveness. You will have to probe and care and take time. You will have to listen with your eyes and with your hearts.
Just this warning. If you don’t give your attention to your children now when they so want your love and attention, they will find someone or something else to give their attention to. They will invest their heart in someone or something. God says when a father turns his heart toward his sons and daughters the earth will be blessed. The hearts of the children will delight in their fathers once again.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn
January 20, 2003