In a few days time we celebrate the beginning of a new year. Taylor Swift’s words are true,
“This is a new year. A new beginning and things will change”.
However, the older you get the harder it is to change, but if you are a father, you have to keep on changing, for the better, all the time.
It is great to see a younger generation getting interested in fatherhood. Unfortunately many younger fathers, and older fathers for that matter, do not realise the foundational truth of fathering: You’re children will become what you are. This is always a worry and I speak about myself as much as anybody. It is so easy to fall into a rut and I have got a few too many ruts to spare. Einstein was right to say,
“Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”.
Einstein’s prognosis of insanity means I should have been locked up in the green room a long time ago. I am a creature of habit and I want to change but I find it hard to break out of my ruts because I find them comfortable.
Another problem I have is that I often can’t see my own mistakes or failings. Recently I received a very brave email from a friend of mine, asking me to give him feedback, and in a sense a personal evaluation, so he could improve himself as a man, a father, a friend and a colleague. In all my life I have never received a letter like it. I found the process so humbling and inspiring that I repeat both his letter to me, and my reply back to his friends, who were acting to keep him accountable. I have edited the letters for brevity and readability. Read them if you dare.
It has been a privilege over the past seasons to be associated with you in life and ministry and we count it a great honour to have spent time with you & work with you over the years. We so appreciate your love & friendship.
It is our great desire to always be a blessing. We understand however that we can be blind to things that need to change in us. At times our own inconsistencies and flaws may be oblivious to us, but very obvious to others. In this, we are hoping for your help.
We kindly ask that you would give us feedback on how we have conducted ourselves in the way we relate to you or the way we work together.
Please feel free to share with us anything you see in us that contradicts who we say we are. It has never been our desire to hurt or harm you in any way and if we have, we sincerely desire to make that right.
We are so committed to growing in these areas that we have secured the help of two close friends who have graciously agreed to keep us accountable in this process. Would you please Cc them in your reply using their above email addresses.
Thank you so much. We very sincerely appreciate your love, friendship and your input into our lives.
Dear friends of my friend
Thank you for your covering note to my friend’s gracious letter of inquiry and accountability. I felt it best to address you as opposed to my friend for the sake of due process.
I have known my friend for over a decade and his family for many years too. My friend is a man of profound faith and like me or you is not without fault… My friend is a type A Personality just like most people in the respective work we do, helping people and endeavouring to achieve great things. He is not without fault in certain areas but then neither I am. Anything he has done wrong then I have done just the same.
But the reason I wanted to respond to this request considering how busy I am is to commend my friend and his whole family to you and their wonderful work they do helping people…
My friend and his whole family have been involved in many national and international non-profit initiatives that have changed the course of history in both Australia and the world… Many times Type A Personalities in the nonprofit area destroy their marriages and became great leaders and help a lot of people, but are lousy fathers and husbands. My friend and his wife are the exact reverse of this and have raised a wonderful and faith filled family while being engaged in active ministry which is truly an awesome achievement.
Friedrich Nietzsche said “What was silent in the father speaks in the son, and often I found in the son the unveiled secret of the father.” My friend’s beautiful daughters and his wife reflect such an amazing level of love and care for people that it puts most ministers’ families to shame. The unveiled secret of the father is telling us a beautiful story and one we should all listen to. I could not commend my friend and family to you in a high enough way.
What more can I say?
Yours truly Warwick Marsh
You can understand why I was both challenged and moved. I need to write a letter like that to all my friends and associates, but frankly speaking I am too scared. In the Good to Great Fathering Course both leaders and participants are required to ask their wife and children a similar question. How can I be a better husband? or how can I be a better father? So I have done it a few times already but maybe it time to ask the question again? Ah but those ruts are very comfortable and insanity is so appealing. Let’s be realistic – I am afraid of change. Especially change for the better. Couldn’t we simply celebrate this New Year minus any uncomfortable changes?
Taylor Swift’s words are haunting me,
“This is a new year, a new beginning and things will change.”
Change will come in the New Year, because anything new brings change. The challenge is to manage the change that will affect you adversely and embrace the change you need to make, for the sake of your children. As Mahatma Gandhi said.
“We must become the change we seek.”
Robert Fulghum was right to say,
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
The good news is that the New Year gives us a new opportunity and a new beginning to become the father our children need us to be.
Yours for a happy and prosperous New Year