I like to believe that I am a thoughtful and understanding person. Hopefully those that meet me would tell you that I am an intentional person when it comes to building relationships. My internal philosophy of establishing relationship equity boils down to investing the time, effort and energy needed to have successful relationships.
Unfortunately, I am coming to a hard realization: it is all about me!
Now, there hasn’t been a specific experience that has led me to this conclusion, but a series of things in my life that make this undeniably true. There are times where I act as if I am the center of the universe, and everyone revolves around my needs and wants. Not the picture of Christ’s love I want to show, but I’m good at disguising my intentions.
In his book, habitation of dragons, Keith Miller shares a story that I feel is a good reminder for us as men and dads. It is a story of returning home after a business trip when his wife didn’t seem to care about his experiences.
“Being so mad at her, I had a hard time hearing what she was saying. But one thing echoed in my mind as I drove toward the office later: ’When you come home from these speaking trips you act like a spoiled king.’
That hurt! And particularly because I had the sneaking suspicion that it just might be true …
I wondered how many other men begin unconsciously to expect their wives and families to hang on their words and attend their needs with the same speed and solicitousness their hosts at meetings or their secretaries do?”
Ouch! I wonder how many of us as men and dads buy into the lie that we are more important than what we really are … especially outside the context of our wives and kids.
Honestly, that is where I matter most – my home.
We did a recent ethnography study on the American family where my biggest takeaway was that each member of the family longed to be affirmed. It is a deep longing to know that they matter even in the trivial decisions and choices they make each day.
The challenge is not just in affirming each other daily, but being intentional about the affirmation. Because if we are not, someone else will – and this is what I feel Keith was getting at.
He goes on to write,
“I realized that one of the things which makes it so bad – and I think may even exaggerate it in the eyes of a wife – is the fact that important unshared experiences often separate people. That is, when I have been off to a stimulating seminar alone, I often make the mistake of coming home and very excitedly telling Mary Allen (his wife) about a “fantastic place”, or person, or group, which has changed my life. In one sense she is glad. But in another sense, the experience which she did not share separates us, because I am implying that I am “going on” due to what happened to me. And since she was not present, there is an implication that I am leaving her behind.”
I am not sure where you are at in life, but I challenge you to ask yourself two questions to see if you are on track to health and intimacy in your most important relationships:
1. What matters most in your life? Does your time and calendar reflect this?
Charles Lee, CEO at Ideation, has shared the story of a co-worker who asked him, “Are you as creative with your kids as you are at work?”
2. Who is affirming you?
This is a tough question to ask. If you are not getting it at home you will seek it in other ways. Guard your heart on this one. Ultimately I would hope that the Lord is ultimately the reason and fulfillment of who we are hoping to be.
We are designed to lead our families well and I believe these questions will reveal our blind spots as husbands and dads. I am realizing that if I am unwilling to fix my blind spots it will have a significant impact on me and those I love and serve.
It has to be more than about me.