Fatherhood: The Best Advice I Ever Received

    “The days go slowly, but the years go quickly.”

    That’s what my wife and I were told as we slogged through the joyful yet intense and tiring seasons of parenting infants and toddlers. God blessed us with two daughters, but very early on, I knew I needed someone else’s expertise. During a break in an afternoon church basketball game, I pulled aside my friend Pete. He had two daughters and was about ten years ahead of me on the parenting journey.

    “Pete,” I said, “you have to help me out. What advice can you give me about raising my kids?”

    He looked at me and spoke only four words, but they were words that stayed with me and dramatically shaped my approach to fatherhood.

    Pete told me, “Keep a low profile.”

    I didn’t fully understand what Pete was telling me that day, but as time passed, his wisdom began to make remarkable sense. It was the best fatherhood advice I ever received.

    Keep a low profile. Pete was telling me that I needed to set the tone for my family. Instead of getting pulled into anxiety or argument, I was called to be present as a caring, humble, and clear-thinking father. I wasn’t given the gift of fatherhood to exasperate my children. I was there to listen to them, love them, and lead them. That’s what the apostle Paul articulated so well in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4).

    This was not easy. There were too many times I got caught up in the latest crisis, chaos and conflict. But Pete’s advice came back to me and led me to be a repentant father, expressing heartfelt sorrow for my failure and redirecting the tone to one that reflected the love and leadership of Jesus. Keep a low profile. The pathway sounded familiar: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). “He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8).

    Jesus set the tone for our lives, lavishing us with unconditional love and redemption through His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. The operating system for our lives is God’s lavish love. The context for our day-to-day being is God’s generous grace. The apostle John declared, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1). So we are. That tone is God’s gift to us—a gift every dad can pass on to his children, wife and family.

    “Keep a low profile.”  Those four simple words caused me to pause before I interjected my opinion prematurely. They reminded me to be gentle with the human beings God had entrusted to my care and influence. They directed me to be selfless and generous. They led me to seek wisdom and to see my purpose as one who disciples my children. They helped me to submit to Jesus, working to see His will accomplished, not mine. Even when strong truth or correction needed to be spoken, those words reminded me to do all those things in love.

    Keep a low profile. It’s the pathway of the Savior who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. And it’s the pathway Jesus generously provides for fatherhood.

      3 Responses

      1. Jim

        Dear Michael,
        Thanks for the story above and advice. My son is now 22 yrs old and our relationship is estranged. After reading your advice above, I realize now during his late Junior & Senior High School years possibly my tone wasn’t good with him due to his poor grades. Trying to be a good Christian Father, and putting him thru Lutheran parochial school didn’t matter at this point. I am regretting it all now and sincerely sorry. I should’ve had a low profile and been more humble. I haven’t had a message from him on Father’s day for 4-5 years. Very depressing. I’ve tried to communicate humbly in the past 3-4 years with him. But he still treats me very poorly. I pray often for him and our relationship to change.
        Thanks for the message. Any advice would be appreciated.

        1. Michael Newman

          Dear Jim,

          Please know that there is hope. We are new creations in Christ, and Jesus promises that He is making all things new. You approach of prayer and humble communication is exactly where you need to be. It is so important to simply say, “I’m sorry” and “I love you.” As God opens doors, continue to express sincere apologies and acknowledge specific ways you have grown to understand how you hurt your dear son. Perhaps writing a note to him will help him see your sincere desire to rebuild your relationship with him. Keep giving him time and space to heal and grow. Receive his poor treatment with grace as he works out his pain–being careful to maintain healthy boundaries. And stay on your knees in prayer, confident that God cares for you as you cast your cares upon Him. I join you in praying for blessing and restoration. Yours truly, Michael Newman

      Leave a Reply