We call it Man Time. It happens every time my wife has to leave the house for more than an hour or so. It’s just me and my sons. Hamburgers are always on the grill. Classic rock is on the radio. And shows about men killing or climbing things are on the TV.
Hooray for Man Time!
But sometimes Man Time has a way of making me feel not so manly.
We were finishing out our day by watching American Ninja Warrior. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a show about people trying to complete an obstacle course that was designed by someone who should be incarcerated. My sons love it. As we watched, one son asked me a very disturbing question.
“Dad, can you do that?”
I responded like any level-headed, forward thinking, God-fearing father would. I didn’t say anything and hoped that he wouldn’t ask that question again. That strategy rarely works but I thought that maybe this time it would.
“Dad, can you do that?”
I need a new strategy.
I have an addiction. It’s called perfectionism. Like most addictions, it never delivers but it still leaves you wanting more. It all comes to a head when my sons ask me if I would make a good ninja. Or when they ask me if I can read Fox in Socks to them and I try to do it without messing up. It happens because I’ve somehow convinced myself that my kids need a perfect father.
A father who never messes up.
A father who knows it all.
A father who can dominate the obstacle course on American Ninja Warrior.
In reality, this is the last thing my kids need from me. Instead, they need to know that their dad isn’t perfect. How else will they be able to come to grips with their own imperfections and need of a Savior?
So I’ve started telling them that I’m sorry. Not all the time or for random reasons or when they’re the ones in the wrong. Just when I mess up. If Jesus, the King of the universe knows about my sins and still loves me, why should I try to hide them from my kids?
We finished one of our Man Time meals and my oldest son had a full plate when he said that he didn’t want to eat anymore. With more anger than correction, I gave him the typical parental response about wasting food and starving kids in, well, America. Something like that.
He started to eat again but he was looking sort of sick.
I told him that if he really was full, he didn’t have to eat anymore.
“Okay dad. I just didn’t want to disappoint you.”
Darn you, Man Time!
I apologized to my son for being too harsh. And with that I blew my cover. My kids are on to me now. And I love it.
Towards the end of Man Time I read Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss to my kids. If you’re not familiar with that book, it’s one big tongue twister and it must have been written by the same evil mind that designed the American Ninja Warrior obstacle course.
“Socks on Knox
and Knox in box.
Fox in socks
on box on Knox.”
Over and over and over again.
If you’re a perfection addict like me, read that book to your kids. By about page six, when you start to slur words like you just finished off a bottle of Jack Daniels, you and your kids both will know that you’re not perfect. And on page 12, when you light the book on fire in the middle of the living room floor, you’ll all know that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior.
So I finally answered my son’s question about me being a ninja.
“No, son. I don’t think that I would make a very good ninja.”
But, with a heavy dose of God’s grace, guidance and redemption, I can make a good father.
Good fathers aren’t perfect.
But they are just strong enough to admit their weaknesses and just humble enough to rely on the strength of their Father.
My kids don’t need me to be a perfect father who is always strong.
They already have One of those.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)