Did you know that Americans spend almost $29 billion dollars a year on salty snacks? Mostly chips of some kind? That is astounding when you think about it! Yet, it makes total sense! Why? Because salt makes things taste really good!! Have you ever tried those salt and vinegar kettle chips? I don’t keep them in my house as the temptation is just to great! Or how about your favorite tortilla chips? Now we have pumpkin chips, black bean chips, falafel chips, blue corn tortilla chips, sweet potato chips, popcorn chips, bbq chips, chipotle chips, nacho cheese chips, buffalo blue cheese chips, honey dijon chips, Terra vegetable chips, and on, and on it goes!!
What do they all have in common?! SALT! SALT! SALT!
Salt is the secret ingredient that makes them all taste good. Can you imagine no salt on your chips??!! Have you ever eaten popcorn with no salt?! Yuck! Have you ever tried those unsalted nuts?! Yuck!! So what is the point? Here it is, Dad’s hear me now:
I AM GOING TO TELL YOU A PROFOUND FATHERING SECRET STRAIGHT FROM THE WORD OF GOD!
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”
Fathers, do you taste good to your kids? Do you make Christianity taste good to them? The way a father lives with his children, the way a father treats his children and their mom, either makes him and his Christianity flavorful and inviting to his children, or it is tasteless, and yuck, and the kids will spit it out of there mouths!
Dads, how many of us have observed a family who had teenagers and you have seen them trample their fathers faith under their feet? How many of us have seen a man whose kids have no respect for him, and walk all over him? The primary reason? Dad has lost his flavor! Dad has not made Christianity or Christ attractive to them at all, in fact, he has done the opposite. Men, this passage has had a profound influence on my fathering and parenting. God has given us a great secret! We are God’s salt. Our lives are either a tremendous advertisement for the Christian faith, or they are not.
Men, ask yourselves these questions: is my life, my behavior, my habits, my words, my spirit, my attitude, my character, my actions, attracting my kids to Christ and to a particular way of life? Is my life winsome to them, and am I winning and gaining their respect, love and admiration?
Many, many years ago, God gave me this personal mission statement:
MAKING CHRIST ATTRACTIVE TO THE WORLD.
This phrase has gone through my mind thousands of times. But the most important and strategic place that phrase applied to my reality, was in my own home, before my own children and my wife.
I have observed over the years first hand, many men, who seemingly were spiritual men, carry their Bible kind of men, show up at church with a smile on their face men. But as I got to know them, really know them, I had to admit to myself that I would not have wanted them for a father. Their faith seemed dull, their hearts were unmoved, their emotions never showed, they seemed so legalistic, stoic, kill-joys, unexpressive and dispassionate. They were stern with their kids, they were harsh, often they would bully their children, or berate them and were hypocritical with their lives. They were not authentic. Their faith had no genuine joy, no real enthusiasm. They never admitted they were wrong, or ever apologized to their children. Christianity seemed like a duty to them and not a joy. They were not winsome in the way they lived their lives! Yet, all who knew them would say they were very religious! The reality was they were leaving a very bad taste in their kid’s mouth about Jesus and Christianity!
Fathers, it is our role, our responsibility, and our privilege, to win our children to Jesus Christ, and to a particular way of life. God’s way of life!! This was on my mind all the time. When I first brought my children home this was on my mind. To the time they left my home, this was on my mind.
I would like to pass on to you some very simple, but meaningful ways to be flavorful to your children, to make Christ attractive to your kids, to win their hearts, and minds, and spirit.
Hold your little children. Even when they are very little and seem to just need a mom. Hold them, cuddle them, hug them, kiss them on the cheek, be affectionate with them. Rock them yourself in your favorite chair. I am still affectionate to my kids, even though they are now all grown with families of their own. Ok, I admit, I don’t rock them anymore!!
Talk kindly to them, speak loving affirming words to them, sing to them.do not berate, make fun of, by sarcastic with, or bully your children.
My daughter and her husband lived with us for a time. During that time, their first baby was born. For the next 6 months they lived in our home with that precious little girl, Charly. Every single day I would sneak down stairs and ask if Jessica needed a break to rest. I would take my little granddaughter up stairs to our room, close the door, sit in my favorite rocker, and sing to her “Jesus loves you”. I would stroke her little face just marveling at this wonderful little gift from God. I would speak softly and tenderly to her. This was what I did with my own children all those years ago.
Bedtime is a big deal! I would often go into their bedroom to put them to bed. Many times I would bring my guitar into their room as my first 3 slept in the same room for a time. I would sing to them the God songs that I had written. I would lay next to all of them in bed, snuggling up, sharing stories with them about my life, or some kind of story. I would then pray out loud for them.
Take them on little dates. I cannot tell you how many times I took my kids, sometimes all four, but other times just individually, on special dates. I might take one to Taco Bell, for Nachos Bell Grande, or take my daughters to Claires for special jewelry, or take them walking around the mall. I would take another to the comic book store, or another on a bike ride, or a hike, and many times to Dairy Queen. I went out of my way to make my kids feel special. Sometimes I took them with me, just me and them, when I spoke at conferences. They got to see me work, stay in the motel with me, and I would show them off to others. I was so proud of them.
Spend time doing things with them. Many years ago we lived in a small, little 540 sq. foot trailer. It was up on a hill, in a run down trailer park, surrounded by woods. Down in the woods was a creek. In the winter time, it would freeze and be all snowy. I would take the kids, put them in an old, cheap, orange, plastic toboggan with an extension cord I used for a rope. I’d wrap it around myself and pull them on the frozen creek. I had special names for them. Celeste was “Little Flower” and Jeromy was “Running Bear”. I was their sled dog.
When Micah was about 3-4 years old, the movie “Cliffhanger” came out with Sylvester Stallone. I took Micah to the Mall of America where they had a huge cliff wall built inside where people could climb it with ropes. Micah climbed all the way to the top. He got bit by the climbing bug, and soon, I would stand in our back yard, spotting for him as he climbed the fireplace chimney wall behind our house with no ropes! He thought he was so big!!
Once, we got so much snow in Minnesota that after I shoveled our driveway in Bloomington, the snow was so high, that I helped the kids get up on the front porch roof and jump down into the huge pile of snow, over and over again. We had so much fun!!
Surprise them by your generosity! This was a huge factor with my kids. Remember a few articles ago was one called “Imitate God!”? What is the stand out characteristic of God towards us?! His givingness, God is a generous, gift giver, like no other!!
FOR GOD SO LOVED THAT HE GAVE! HAS NOT GOD BEEN SUPER GENEROUS WITH YOU?!
I made a practice of trying to surprise my kids, going out of my way to be generous, when it was not a special occasion. Here were some of the ways my kids could tell they were on my heart, that I was paying careful attention to them, and that they really mattered:
I loved watching my kids play the original Mario Brothers. To me, still the best game ever. But as time went on, Super Mario came out. Of course, you needed a new game console and controllers and game. I had overheard my youngest son Micah tell his brother that he sure wished he had that game. One day, I thought, “You know what, I am going to really surprise him.” I went and bought the game, the new console and controllers. I snuck down into his room and put it all in an old backpack of his. Later as we sat eating dinner, which was right above his bedroom, I said, “Kids, we are doing a backpack drive for some of the underprivileged kids at the school we rent for our church meetings. Micah, do you still have that old silver backpack?” He said, “Yeah dad, I have it somewhere.” I then said, (as my kids know I can be a bit obsessive), “Can you go get it now?” He said, “I am eating.” “I know son, but I really can’t get it off my mind, and want to make sure we have it.” So down he went to his bedroom just below the dining room. I sat, trying to hide my smile and act normal, as I was the only one who knew what was going to happen next, as all the rest of us were sitting there. All of a sudden, screams of joy and ecstatic exuberance, he comes running up the stairs thanking me profusely, and all the family was just as stunned and enjoyed this wonderful surprise!
I could tell you many stories of things like this with each of my children. This was one of the great ways I used to win my children’s hearts, to give them a taste of real Christianity, and make Christ attractive to my kids, and give them a living demonstration of the nature of God.
Fathers, are you salty towards your kids? Does your Christianity and way of life taste good? Or will they trample you, your faith, and your God under their feet? Are you making Christ attractive to your family?