Expert: A person with a high degree of skill in or knowledge of a certain subject.
“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” - Nicholas M. Butler
During some interviews and even in discussions between friends and myself, I have been called a fathering expert. I wrote this to keep my head on straight.
Me, a fathering expert? I don’t think so, in some things you just can’t afford to be a mere expert. Expertise is sometimes a failed fail safe, an illusion of the power of knowledge if you will. Expertise looks to past experiences to help discern the present or future, often overlooking other clues in the process (more on that in minute). Experience is one of the tools needed but what if the present/future looks completely different from the past? (Hint, it will) Then our expertise might not fit the picture and we’re forced to adapt on the fly. Staying with our expertise instead of adapting could short circuit some important relational moments.
That’s the tease of being a so-called expert… you live in the world of what you think you know instead in the world of further relational pursuit. How do I know…let me reveal some father fail moments in my own life. These statements came from some heart-to-heart moments with my kids.
“You killed my dreams.”
“Sometimes, I feel like you’re not listening to me.”
“Why should I talk, you already know ALL the answers.”
Can you spot the expert-tease in those comments? They were gut-wrenching to hear, painful to swallow and they were a result of stubbornly believing my own headlines. In every one of those moments, it took a humbled father rather than an expert to bring healing into the relationship. It’s more than being right or knowing more than they do. It’s not about winning arguments, discussions or disagreements.
It’s about winning their hearts.
We should be studying, asking questions, and gathering Intel on our kids all the time. The goal is to know them. Focusing on learning all about them as they grow and develop into all God wants to be. Our tether to our past fathering experiences (i.e., they way we trained them in the past) is important but not so tight that we can’t be free to adjust quickly to the changes in their life. Why? Simply because we’re (hopefully) growing and changing along side them as well.
Our growth as we journey with Father God is developing new strengths and the way we live out our faith before our kids. We begin to see other traits as vital tools on that journey. Tools like curiosity, imagination and creativity become fuel for fatherhood. These may not be the tools of experts but they are good ones for dads who engage in the lives of their children. So, instead of experts, let’s be tool gatherers, intently focusing on the waves of change affecting family life and using those tools to lead. I much rather be known as a full-frontal, engaged dad then an expert any day.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 ESV