Power Tools For Father’s Day
I had the wonderful privilege to grow up in the house with the neighborhood mechanic. My dad could fix anything, and he had this great desire to teach this things he knew to his sons. After he came home from work and on Saturdays my brother would eagerly meet him in the garage, with tools in hand, ready to tackle any project that came along, then there was me.
I can admit that I was not always a good student in that garage. I probably frustrated my dad more than the small engine or chair that he was fixing, but I am thankful for that time because I learned a whole lot in that garage about life, people, and God.
Because I was a little slow to learn it the first time, I have had to call lots of folks throughout the years to teach me how to do some things. The result is that it was not just my dad, who invested in me, there is a long list of men who have traveled in and out of my life, who have each left their impression. These men have all taught me in one way or another what it means to be a man after God’s own heart.
One of my favorite guys was a man named Jim Merit, who lived in Nashville. Something would break and I would call Jim to come and help me figure it out. Now Jim was this big old gruff man with hands the size of a small car. He would show up and teach me how to fix the wiring, or plumbing, or the car and teach me a few new jokes and a lot of old ones as well. When the job was done he would gather up all of his tools and head home, but after every job I would always find a screwdriver, or pair of pliers, or wrench that he left behind. I would take it back to him and he would tell me to just keep it, incase I needed it later. His gift to me was not only the tool but how to use it.
I got to thinking about my dad and Jim this week as I was preparing for our time together this morning. I have had the wonderful privilege of having men who not only gave me the tools to fix the things in my life, but showed me how to use those tools.
This morning I want to spend some time talking to the guys about some power tools. I really believe that every man in this room has the responsibility to pour your life into someone else whether you have 10 kids or you have never been married. We see this idea of mentoring in the life of Paul, in Acts 9 we see that Barnabas invested in the life of Paul and gave him the tools he needed to do a great work. And then we see that Paul invested in the life of Timothy and passed along those tools that Timothy would pass along to other men.
So this morning I want to talk about some power tools that I have received from men who have invested in me and that I want to pass along to you today. I have found that these tools are useful for the most important building projects we have to tackle. We have the privilege to serve the ultimate Father and builder. And as we imitate Him, we need to take on some of His characteristics. The text that was read for us this morning is the best known verse in the Bible. I believe in this text we can find four tools the guys need to learn how to use.
Power Tool #1: Love. - God so loved.
We don't usually associate love with dad’s, that’s for Mother's Day. We assume that love is a gender specific tool. It isn't. Love should be in everyone's tool belt including dad's. Guys, you make love your number one tool and I'll guarantee that you'll build a great family and better legacy. Love is the most important tool you'll ever use.
The problem is that too many of us associate love as some sappy emotion. But love is not an emotion, it's a action. So guys, just because we're born with the Y chromosome doesn't mean we don't have the power tool. The truth is that men are as capable of showing love as women. I mean look at 1 Corinthians 13 and tell me how many emotions you see in that text.
Love is patient and kind. Any emotions there? Patience is what you do despite how you feel. The only way to do kind is to act. How about love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. No warm fuzzes in that part either. Or this, love is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
When you look at Paul's definition in 1 Corinthians 13 love seems like the exact opposite of emotion. I'm not saying there’s no emotional content to love or that your family doesn't need your emotional engagement. I just want you to see that you have all the equipment to love. And the ultimate model of love is God. God, our Father in heaven, loves you unconditionally. He loves you completely.
One of the reasons many people don’t trust God is because they couldn’t trust their dads. The only thing they associate with the word father is pain and failure. That’s why we need men to invest in our young people, whether they carry your DNA or not. We have a community of folks who need someone to invest in them, to love them unconditionally. Just because your kids are out of the house, or maybe you were never blessed to have children, doesn’t mean your responsibility is taken away. I truly believe that loving people the way God loves you is the manliest thing you can do.
Power Tool #2: Giving. - God so loved the world that he gave ....
We are called to imitate God is characterized by giving. In the person of Christ, God came and lived among us and died on a cross in our place. If we're going to build souls, families and churches that will last we have to do it with the power tool of giving. We need to give three things:
First they need our Time.
We have a decision to make every day about how we are going to spend our time, and we need to acknowledge that our time has long lasting results. Not a single person ever said at the end of their lives that they spent to much time with their kids.
I love the story Billy Crystal tells about his daughter Lindsey’s 11th birthday. Billy was in New York filming a movie, so he called her, apologized for his work schedule, and told her that a package would be delivered soon. He then got on a plane and flew home to LA and later that day when Lindsay opened the front door, a six foot carton greeted her. She began ripping it open on the spot. Billy was inside. He went on to say, "My dad died when I was fifteen. I missed twenty five birthdays with him. I'm not going to let that happen to my girls." Lindsey Crystal knew that she was important in her family because her dad gave her time.
We also need to give them our attention.
How do you show someone that they have value and worth in your life? You cannot really give someone your time, unless they also have your attention. While I love the fact that my phone can do more things faster than my first computer, I have noticed that it has also caused problems. Today when you go out to a restaurant, or out to the store notice how many folks are out together, but face down in a phone. While you may think that by being with someone you are giving them your time, unless they also have your attention, they don’t really have your time.
We have become so distracted in the way that we do our jobs and the way that we interact with each other, that we have become a nation of strangers. We have 700 friends of Facebook and never interact with the folks we can really see face to face. You want to let someone know how important they are to you? Turn the phone to silent, put down the tablet, turn off the TV and just listen for 30 minutes. You will be amazed at how much you will accomplish with just a little attention.
Here's one more way to use the power tool of giving. Give them affection.
This goes back to a love that is more than a warm fuzzy emotion, it is shown in acts. Lewis Grizzard told the story about a woman who used to stop for coffee and biscuits at her dad's house every morning on her way to work. One morning she called and said, Dad, I'm running late. I'll just see you tomorrow. As she rounded a corner near his house, her dad was standing there with coffee and biscuits in hand. The woman said that her dad told her all the time that he loved her, but that day his act of love made a bad day better. A little act of affection goes a long way.
Power Tool #3: Requirement. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosever believes in him should not perish."
God loves, God gives, and God requires. Does that surprise you? We talk a lot about God's mercy and God's grace and God's forgiveness. But God has requirements, too. We play a role in our own salvation. And don’t let that make you nervous.
I’m not saying we can earn our salvation or that we have to work for it. That's blasphemy. That's false teaching. We can't do anything to earn our forgiveness. It's a gift. But we do play a role. When Lindsay Crystal tore open that package to discover he dad did she earn that? No. Did she play a role? Yes.
When the woman in Lewis Grizzard's story rounded the corner to discover her dad waiting there with a bag of biscuits, did she earn that affection? No. But she did play a role. She had to stop the car and get the biscuits. She had the freedom to drive right on by and leave him out in the cold. Which is what some people do with God. He stands there with the gift in his hands and we drive by. He's not going to force us to take the gift. God gives us the freedom to choose.
The requirement John tells us about here in verse 16 is belief or faith. If you believe on Jesus you will not perish but have eternal life. We must remember that belief or faith is ALWAYS a verb, faith that does nothing is not faith. What if you say, "I believe in Jesus," but never obey his commands? What if you say, "I believe in Jesus," live like an unbeliever? You'd just be mouthing empty words. Belief is how we live, not how we talk. God requires that we do more than say we believe; Belief or faith requires action, and that's a power tool that father's need to use as well.
We need to make sure our children know we have some requirements. I mean we need to communicate our standards to our children. They need to hear us say, This is how our family is going to live. This is who we are. The problem with many young people today is that they are growing up in homes where there are no requirements. We have an epidemic of parents who don’t love their kids enough to make requirements, hold standards or communicate expectations.
It is important that you understand exactly what I am and am not saying. I'm not saying you tie your love to your children’s' behavior. You must love like God; unconditionally. I'm not saying that you withhold affection or attention or time if they don't live up to your standard. In fact, they need you to give more of yourself if they aren't living the way they should. I'm saying that along with love and giving you need to communicate some requirements. That's the most loving thing you can give you kids.
Our children need a strong, influential male presence in their lives. Be that presence. Make sure they hear you saying what Joshua said to all of Israel: As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
There's one more power tool you need to successfully build your own soul, your family and your church. Power Tool #4: preparation. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
God prepared a way for us to enjoy eternity with him. We need to prepare our children for their future. We need to prepare them spiritually. It isn't enough to provide for their material needs. Dad, it's your job to be sure their souls are developing as well as their athletic or academic abilities are. Let me say a word here about a touchy subject. I've heard parents say before, "Well, I don't want to make Johnny go to church because I'm afraid I'll turn him off to it." He's already off. You've got to turn him on!
"I don't want to make them go to church because I don't want to make a decision for them." If you permit your children to skate by spiritually and not get involved in the community of faith, you are making a decision for them.
It’s time that the parents act like the parent. Don't let them pull away from God because you're afraid they won't like you. You know it’s a fact that there will come a time that they won’t like you anyway. We have a generation of parents that want to be buddies with their kids, but we are parents not friends. And they sure won't like you very much if you don't fulfill your God-given role in preparing them for eternity.
Second, prepare them relationally. They need to see what healthy relationships look like. It's our job as parents to show them. Show them what unconditional love looks like. Show them what forgiveness looks like. Show them what to do when they fail. I've talked to parents before who were devastated because they had failed in some really significant way. My council has always been to say, "Look, there's an opportunity here. You get to show your kids what Christians do when they fall. They get up, repent, confess and come home." They'll learn to relate to God by watching you.
This morning I want to encourage all of our men here to be involved in someone’s life. Be available and use these four power tools: love, giving, requirements, and planning. Create a legacy by pouring out what you know into the lives of others who are coming behind you on this journey.
Personally, as the boys get older I realize how badly I need the advice and guidance of my own dad and other men who have walked this path before me. So just because your kids are out of the house doesn’t mean that your job is done, you are needed now more than ever. We need a role model that we can follow, someone who can show us how to live for Jesus. We need to have someone who can teach us through their lives what it means to really adore God.
Questions For You To Consider
What are some ways that you can show love in your family?
What are some ways that you can show love to other families?
Since God by nature is a giver, what does that say to His children?
What are some areas in your life where you need to be more giving?
When time is tight, how can we still give?
What types of requirements should we have in our families?
What types of requirements should we have in our church?
Why are requirements important?