children now

The Importance of Now

Nicole Minnaar is a mom of 3 young girls, with a passion for parenting and a deep desire to see children flourish and achieve their full potential. As with all of us, she has found that the busyness and pressures of the everyday can sometimes get in the way of this dream and is constantly exploring ways to ensure that she avoids this in her own life. She has shared some of her thoughts and her journey here with us on this blog.

We are currently inundated with articles on ‘mindfulness’, an approach to life based in Buddhism and often coupled with both yoga and meditation. Mindfulness is about making a choice, over and over again, to pay attention to whatever is happening in the present moment, without judging it or wishing it was different. Too often, we, as Christians, shy away from all things based upon other religions – we should not be that close-minded in our outlook on life. I recently read an article on parenting in the same vein and was really challenged on how I deal with my own family.

We live in an age of technology; of cellphones and tablets, computers and TV’s, and we manage to fill our lives with so much distraction – what are the implications on our children and our spouses? In Ecclesiastes 9:9-10, Solomon’s words exhort us to, “Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love” and in Psalms 127:3-5 David reminds us that children are, “a gift from the Lord.” Are we prepared to disconnect from what vies for our attention in order to be present for our families, to ‘love our wives’ and enjoy ‘our gifts from God’?

As a mother of 3 girls, I constantly feel pulled in many different directions over the course of a day; trying desperately to remember who needs to be where at what time and coordinating all their schedules in order to be available to attend to each of their requirements. This is a constant battle as parents, where the demands on our time seem to far exceed the amount of time we have in a day. It is so easy, in the midst of rushing around, to forget to make the most of our time together and to be present in the moment. One of the reasons that I chose to stop working was so that I could be more available for my children, as the demands of clients was interfering with my frame of mind, making parenting a chore that had to be done. Since changing my attitude and seeing the benefits of being able to run them around, I have seen a huge impact on both my relationship with them and my sense of worth. While this is not always a possibility or desirable for all parents, the things I learned through the experience are applicable to all. We are challenged by God’s word to, “train up a child in the way he should go…” and yet we sometimes listen with half an ear to the stories they have to tell, rather than engaging with them fully and helping them to dissect a situation or see things from another perspective. We miss opportunities to guide them and teach them the ways that God sees the world.

How often do you see families or couples out to dinner where one or all of them are busy on their phones? If our children learn so much by time spent with us and by observing us in our everyday lives, what are we teaching them? What examples are we setting for them? Are we making them feel less valued by not giving them our full attention or if all we can offer them are stolen moments from our busy day? Are we giving messages to them that say they are not interesting enough to hold our attention? These behaviours replicate themselves in areas beyond technology too, for instance the father ‘enjoying’ time at the dinner table at the end of a day, not really hearing a word that is being said as he grapples in his mind with the demands and problems relating to his work. What message is given when we turn on a television or even open a book. While it is important for us to take time out to rest and relax, we need to turn to God for the strength (and often the patience) to give our all to our families so that we do not miss the opportunities that He provides for us to build on what he has already given to us.

5 Resolutions for 2017

Very often we start off the New Year with huge goals of success and greatness, my challenge to us all this year, is to set our sights a little more closely to home. Let’s actively choose to:

  • Have less screen time
  • Have more family dinners around the table
  • Invest time with those in our lives – spouses, children, parents, friends
  • Be less distracted
  • Have more meaningful and purposeful conversations with our loved ones

My Story – Being Young, Being Black and Being a Foreigner

Being Young, Being Black and Being a Foreigner, what a topic right? I am sure it has you wondering what I am going to be talking about in this blog. Is this going to be one huge rant, one long ‘woe is me’ speech on how my life is just horrible? No, I don’t want it to be that kind of blog! I know these are topics that we all have an opinion on, maybe can complain about for hours or even something that has caused you a great deal of hurt and damage. I want to take a different kind of look at these things. Yes, I have suffered at the hands of “being” all of these things, but I have also found meaning and purpose in these things. I would be doing myself a great disservice if I did not take some time to reflect on these realities. The fact of the matter is God has ordained that I be young at this stage of my life, he has determined from eons ago that I be born into this world as a black man and he has decided that I should live in a foreign country right now. Every person has been through or is currently in one or more of these eras of life, and they each hold their fair share of difficulty. I would like to share how God has shown me purpose in these things.

Being Young

With the length of my beard, some may argue that I no longer qualify to be recognised as a “young” person anymore. A part of me feels like I grow my beard because I don’t like being seen as the kid anymore, and want to be considered without my age being taken into consideration. But I am young. Born the 4 th of February in the blessed year of 1989, makes me 27 years old now. So what are the struggles of being young? The most prominent one is not being taken seriously when around older people. In the business industry, the church, with family and with older friends, there always seems to be a need to have to over prove your case before anyone takes you seriously. We often get one chance to prove ourselves, and if we screw that up, getting a second chance is an uphill battle. Jobs want more experience than we have. The church wants more conformity to their ‘old ways’ than our young bones can live with. The family wants us to follow careers of their choosing. The older people around us seem to be very busy with their own lives, goals and dreams. It is almost as if they say, “They (the young people) will figure it out by themselves, we had to do the same!” I have been blessed enough to have mentors that have invested their time and experience into my life. I do, however, know that this isn’t the norm. There are so many young people that have no one to help them navigate life, and they are making bad decisions every day. We sooner would point fingers and judge their decisions without taking any steps to assist. So what can we do? For young guys;

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.” Ecc 11:9 “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Tim 4:12

Enjoy your youth, you only get it once, but don’t enjoy it to the extent of losing your soul. Your actions may be forgiven, but they still have consequences. Stand for what is right and good. You may have to shout louder than most to be heard, but do not settle for being ‘side lined’ because of your age. Instead be humble enough to submit to older people and take heed of their wise counsel. For the older people;

“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendour of old men is their grey hair.” Proverbs 20:29 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5

There is an arrogance that comes with being young. We think that we know everything. It would be much easier to leave us to our ways and let us learn through injury. It is much harder to intervene. As the strength of youth fades, teach us how to embrace the “splendour” that comes from getting older. Stand in our way enough that when our pride fails we can submit to you and learn to be humble.  

Being Black

As some of you may know from the talks I have done, I haven’t always been black. I have been black now for about 8 years. Before, I wasn’t black at all, I was just a person. I lived and learnt and worked with people of most races, but there were never any labels. I just had lighter skinned friends and darker skinned friends who were just people. These where the years of my life in my home country, Zimbabwe. When I came to Johannesburg I finally realised that I was actually black. The distinction of my skin colour became more pronounced than ever before. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think it is another opportunity to learn. Having a ‘race neutral society’ is great, but it does have its flaws. It sounds very politically correct to say that you are ‘race blind’, but I think that does more harm than good. What this says indirectly is, “I acknowledge that you are equally a person as I am, but I am disregarding that you have a culture that is different from mine and beautiful in its own right”. We need to acknowledge that other people have a culture which is different to our own culture. Of course racial profiling and discrimination because of skin colour is wrong, but I think complete blindness to the fact that we are different is just as wrong. We have been made differently on purpose, and ignoring that is not God- honouring.   What does the bible say about race?

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
1 Corinthians 12:12-14

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
Rev 7:9

“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.”
Romans 10:12

Yes we are different, and yes that is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated. But a greater reality is we are the same, cut from the same cloth and at the end of the day we will all be found at the same place. I truly believe if we celebrated each other, forgave each other and knelt together in prayer, we would not have so many conflicts between the races. The racial issues in our country will only be healed by Jesus. Jesus, having been rejected and murdered by the people of his own race, died in order to break down the hostility between Jews and Gentiles.  

Being a Foreigner

In South Africa in 2011 the official census indicated that 2.2 million foreigners lived in South Africa. Today, some speculate that 5 million foreigners live here, but that number has not been substantiated. Regardless of this, at this stage about 4% to 9% of the population is made up of foreigners. I am one of those.

Most people don’t understand the struggle of being a foreigner. From getting permits, finding jobs, fitting into the culture, the treatment from police, xenophobia and the constant missing of ‘home’. Every couple of years I have to start considering renewing my permit, (that would require a whole other blog to fully explain!) but what an unwelcoming experience! The fear of being ostracised because I am not from here is always at the back of my mind. The response I get most of the time after ranting about all that is, “Why not just go back home?”

When I was younger I heard a brilliant illustration from T. D. Jakes. He said he was driving somewhere and it was quite a long drive. He didn’t know the directions, so he was using a GPS system to direct him. The GPS would tell him, “turn left” when it is time to turn left and, “turn right” when it was time to turn right. Part of this drive was a long stretch of straight road for a couple hundred kilometres. He did not want to get lost so he would constantly tap the GPS, but it would say nothing if it was not time to turn.

In the same way, if God directs you somewhere, you need to go there. When you are there, if God says nothing, then you need to stay there. So why am I here? Because my ‘GPS’ hasn’t told me to turn yet. God led me here and he wants me here right now. My role now is to see what God wants me to do here. Work hard and diligently where God has placed me, knowing very well that ultimately my citizenship is not in Zimbabwe or South Africa. Ultimately, my allegiance is to the Kingdom of God, and that is where my ultimate loyalties lie.

Yes I am a foreigner here, but so too was Jesus in this world. He left his home, to wonder around many foreigners, for a greater purpose than comfort, ease and financial gain. So, if you are a foreigner here, ask God if you should be here. If he says no then you need to leave. If he says yes or he says nothing, then you need to work. We are not from the same nation, but we are from the same kingdom. We are not born by the same mother, but we have been born again by the same Father.

What does the bible say?

“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
Leviticus 19.34

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:2

“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”
Matthew 5:47

As much as I am a foreigner to you, you are a foreigner to me. So, the above is not just a plea for you to treat me well, but it is a provocation for me to treat you well. What would make us different from Non-Christians if we only treat our brothers well? Furthermore, as the body of Christ, the real foreigners are those that have not yet joined us on this side of faith. Even if you have never left the country before, if you have been saved, you were once a foreigner.

This is the journey I am currently on, and with all the tensions, God has shown me grace and purpose. I am thankful.

Depression - My Story

My Story – A Journey with Depression

The family betting pool as to how quickly we would fall pregnant started to get going pretty soon after Donald and I were married. It wasn’t really a secret that we wanted to extend our family with children as soon as the Lord saw fit to do so. And so, I stand under correction, but I think it was my sister Liesl who won the bet, when we took our family out 3 months before our first wedding anniversary to announce that we were pregnant!

You can imagine the excitement! We were the first of our generation on both sides of our family to get married and now we were going to be the first to start the next generation.

This baby caused a huge amount of excitement and activity! The best part for me was how I was regularly reassured that I would be a natural mom… we were going to make such great parents… they could see me with a baby already… So, what on earth did I have to worry about? This was going to be a breeze!

Teagan Elizabeth Evans arrived at around midday on the 27 March, 2008. We were beside ourselves with happiness, greatfulness and joy! The only challenge was that she didn’t exactly come with an instruction manual and, given that I was supposed to be this “natural mom”, I had just assumed I would figure things out. I mean it can’t be that difficult, right?

Ummmm, so maybe it can!
I look back now and I would say that after the initial settling in period, there were certain things that just weren’t going as they should have…not with Teagan mind you, but with me! My emotions were constantly raw and I walked around with this feeling of being a live wire that, if you touched the wrong way, I would spark. But this wasn’t how it was meant to be, was it? I’m supposed to be a natural! So, then why was I wanting to cry about the silly things, why did everything feel so overwhelming, why did my anxiety and irritation always seem so close to the surface and ready to explode?

It’s easy looking back now and “seeing the signs”. But when you’re in it and living it daily, trying to look after a new baby and trying to live up to a self inflicted expectation that you should be able to “get this” – you start making excuses! This will pass, I just need to push forward, the haze will clear and the tummy-aching anxiety will go away, surely? Oh and the crying… that’s just hormones right?

This went on… and on… and on.

I went back to work when Teagan was 6 months old. If you recall, in 2008 the economy wasn’t exactly performing and so I went back to a challenging work environment, where things were also not running smoothly. This just compunded the problem. I had my work situation to deal with, plus all the other hormonal, emotional messy stuff that I was still wanting to get over. It wasn’t pretty.

I spoke to some friends about seeking help and there were mixed reactions. I started to feel guilty for wanting to seek help, like maybe I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I thought, get over it already, Ros! There are people out there with much bigger problems than you. Pull yourself towards yourself! You have an amazing husband, a beautiful baby girl and a job… what on earth are you feeling all anxious and irritated about?

When Teagan was 8 months old, my mom finally took me aside and told me about a family friend who had suffered from something called Postnatal Depression. Sorry what? Depression you say? No, I’m sure that’s not my problem at all! She made me listen, she contacted the family friend and this amazing women managed to get me an appointment with her doctor.

Depression is not a disease, nothing to be ashamed of and nothing that I had done wrong

I remember driving to the doctor for my first appointment and thinking that she was going to tell me I was over reacting and maybe being slightly dramatic about things. You have no idea the relief I felt when she told me that what I was going through was normal – and that I wasn’t the only one to go through this! She told me she couldn’t believe that I had waited so long to seek help. I was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression. This was not a disease, nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that I had done wrong, nothing that meant I wasn’t a good mom or wife… a chemical imbalance that meant I just wasn’t able to be the best version of me.

I remember telling the doctor that for the past 8 months, I was essentially going through life having these manifestations of emotions that in the past I had been able to control. My irritability was over the top – boiling, heat infused, irrational irritation. My anxiety was all consuming – stuck in a black hole, I could see the light but couldn’t reach it kind of anxiety. And here the doctor was telling me she could help me!

The break through was when Donald told me I was acting like ‘me’ again!

I went onto anti-depressant medication. It took about 9 to 11 days to “kick in” and I found myself counting down the days! It was a slow journey and, I’m no poet, but I could really feel a heaviness lifting off of me – slowly. I could feel my emotions almost being reeled back into control. The break through though, was when Donald told me I was acting like ‘me’ again!

I’ve got tears in my eyes now thinking about it. I had been blessed with the most amazing man to call my husband and he went through this journey as well! That was a big moment for me – realising that it wasn’t just me going through this, he was as well and, with my healing, there was healing for him.
 

Am I now cured? Over it? Goodbye! Never see you again depression! Got you covered! Umm, not quite! At one point I thought I could go it alone and went off my meds, at that stage I was pregnant with my second child. That didn’t work out so well. But hey, I’m not ashamed of it, its just my journey and my journey includes something called depression.

I’m not ashamed of it, its just my journey and my journey includes something called depression.

Do I have bad days and dark days? Yes, I do and it’s not easy because sometimes it feels like I’m being pulled back to a dark place, but I’ve got to fight it! The best part is, that I don’t have to do it alone. It helps that I love to talk and the Lord has blessed me with amazingly supportive family and friends, who are great listeners. This support system means that I know I’m not alone. They listen to me, talk with me and most importantly pray with me, when I sometimes feel like I just don’t have the energy or words needed to cry out to God.

The Lord has used my journey for His glory! I now have such a passion for expectant and new moms and it is here that the Lord has allowed me to work for Him. I get to talk with them, encourage them, share with them and sometimes I get the privilege of being able to tell them “what you are feeling is normal, there is nothing wrong with you and I have faith that you are going to be ok!”

Thank you God for your promise that when I “Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, I would be able to acknowledge Him in all of my ways and He would direct my paths” Proverbs 3:5-6

adoption

My Story – A Journey To Adoption

My Story – A Journey To Adoption

I grew up in an era relatively free of ‘political correctness’, and this extended to all areas of life, including gender bias. Little girls wore pretty dresses and spent their days role-playing how to cook, clean and look after their ‘babies’. Little boys spent their lives outdoors getting dirty and riding their bikes and scooters around the garden. I wasn’t very good at being the stereo-typical girl (not much has changed over the years!) but I can tell you that although I grew up in Zambia, the dolls all my friends played with had milky white complexions and in these fantasies all of them came out of their Mommy’s tummies.

Let’s fast forward a couple of decades. The girls have moved on from their role-playing and now plan real-life weddings, marrying Prince Charming in the wedding dress of their dreams and they look forward to extending their families to include lots of happy children of their own. Then real life happens…

Work. Stress. Age. Single. Divorced. Health. Miscarriage. Infertility.

And with these things the dreams of a perfect, textbook life, come crashing to the floor. For many who live in our society, this is a devastating reality and in recent years the inability to have children has become one of the highest causes of depression, conflict, and divorce among South Africans in the Middle/Upper class white population.

This is my story…

“I never fitted the mold. I didn’t play dolls and I didn’t like pink. I wanted travel & adventure.”

I never fitted the mold. I didn’t play dolls and I didn’t like pink. I wanted travel & adventure. I fought injustice and always had a love of people and their cultures. I was fortunate enough to have a Christian, liberal upbringing and was taught that people’s hearts are the same regardless of their race, language or culture. In my early 20’s I met Daniel – his heart was amazing but his upbringing was very different to mine and very typical of a young person brought up in Apartheid South Africa. We debated, discussed, compromised and agreed to differ on many issues and after 6 years we got married. I had my dream job, running an international NGO and traveling the world, so I ignored all the advice given by well-meaning friends and family and chose to postpone having children for a little while longer. When we dreamed of our future, it included 2 children of our own and 1 by adoption… and there was still plenty of time! After 6 years our daughter, Jess, was born and I realized to my amazement that this wasn’t the end of the fun but rather the beginning of it. I immediately regretted not starting earlier and wanted lots of children! When Jess was a year old we, started trying for a second child and this is where the trouble began. Five years of tests, miscarriages, IVF’s, D&C’s and a huge amount of heartache later, I called an end to it all. Emotionally, I just couldn’t do it any more.

Our plan had always been to adopt a third child and at this point I moved to what I thought was the next logical next step – that our second child would come from adoption. We weren’t talking about putting our name on a very long list in the hope of adopting a child that looked like us. The point of adoption was to make a difference and to adopt a child who really needed a home. It’s amazing how something can seem like such a great idea until it’s time to make it reality! At this point, Daniel suddenly wasn’t sure any more.

It’s an enormous step. Adoption is for life. How would people react? What would family think? And for both of us there was the huge, burning question… could we possibly love an adopted child as much as we loved Jess.

God worked in our hearts as we wrestled with these questions and within months we started the application. It was an administrative drag but the process was easy and made less tedious by the incredibly dedicated social workers.

In record speed, after 5 months, I received a call saying they had a baby for us. However, the baby didn’t seem like a good fit and we didn’t want to rush, so we opted to wait until the right baby came along. A week later Daniel received a call to say they had a 4 month old baby, and knowing that I really wanted to adopt a baby as young as possible, he said the same thing without mentioning this to me. A few days later, we attended a routine meeting with a third group of social workers and they presented us with papers of a baby, whose smile & personality immediately jumped off the pages of her profile. In that moment we both realized that this was the third time this little girl had been presented to us – by 3 different groups of social workers! Within 4 days we flew to Cape Town to collect her and many of you will now know her as our bubbly, busy, loud, sociable and incredible 3 year old daughter, Tasha.

“I can’t believe I doubted whether I could love her enough.”

I can’t believe I doubted whether I could love her enough and her personality is more outgoing and ‘Robus’ than mine! People stop us to chat and comment all the time but always with positive words of encouragement. I’m sure there are those who don’t approve, but for the most part they’ve kept their opinions to themselves, and we like to believe that perhaps we plant a seed in their hearts that will one day help to grow their understanding and tolerance.

God has a plan for each of us. We arrogantly tried everything in our power to decide our own life’s course but it wasn’t in His plan. Had we had two children of our own, I doubt we would have continued to adopt a third because we started late. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we were meant to adopt Tasha. Adoption is biblical. Moses was rescued from his basket on the river and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. Esther lost her parents and was adopted by Mordecai. We are all sons and daughters of God and this is true, regardless of any of our physical attributes or our social circumstances. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we should only care for those who look like us, or those who are born from us. God is the ultimate father and in His absence on earth He left us with his Holy Spirit and declared, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14v18).

We each travel our own journey. Submission isn’t a word that comes easy to me at all, so relinquishing control, submitting to God’s will and accepting His plan, have been concepts I’ve struggled with most of my life. However, in hindsight, I can see how He’s guided us along the way and the end result is better than I could ever have imagined in my wildest dreams.

Vote

The great voting non-debate

With the general elections coming up on the 3rd August 2016 there is a lot of talk around braais with regards to what party one will vote for.

It’s always interesting in my engagements how many times I find that people are so sure who they will vote for but not because of anything that constitutes a well-researched opinion. For the most part, it’s an emotional decision, usually based on one’s colour and not so much on what each party offers the constituency.

But what does the word of God call us to do?
While it’s true that voting is not something that is demanded by God, we are called to be active citizens in the communities that we live – but what does that mean?

For many people, and definitely those that leave comments on News24, being active citizens usually means complaining and tearing down the opposition. However, there are other ways:

Educate Yourself

Before your x marks the spot where you pledge your allegiance, take time to educate yourself. Make a decision based on a party that resonates with that which is important to you. What does your party stand for other than “the liberation of a black collective” or “safety amongst the white brethren”? What is their stance on education, religion, abortion and land reform? Delving into party manifestos may surprise you as you realise that you have more in common with the ACDP than the DA or ANC.

“Delving into party manifestos may surprise you…”

Pray

Nothing beats a thoughtful and prayerful vote. Take the time to come before God and place the future of this great nation at His feet. When you avail yourself to Him and allow Him to use you as a vessel for His will to be done, voting becomes more than a national duty – it becomes part of your ministry and your testimony. Furthermore, the Bible calls us to pray for the leaders of this country – whether or not you voted them into power.

Get Involved

Our duties do not end when we walk out of the voting booth – it is only the beginning. The way I see it, when we place that vote, we are pledging ourselves to be partners with the powers that be and aligning ourselves with other like-minded South Africans in building up the nation. If we take the time to look around, there are many ways that we can get involved – community initiatives that not only alleviate the load of the government but make our day to day living that much more meaningful.

So, as we approach the local government elections allow me to put out this cliché – ask not what the country can do for you, but take time to think what you can do for this country. Only then will you vote with a heart for the country and a vision for the future.

Happy Voting!

dads

Are dads really that important?

Moms try and force feed Purity into the mouth of a screaming toddler, dads land helicopters full of life-saving nutrients on the tongue of their child. Moms have ‘bath time’, dads have epic sea battles in which their children are fired with soap suds and bombed with shampoo. Moms are “so intense”, dads are “so chilled” (read: distracted), moms “make me go to bed”, dads “let me watch anything” (read: still distracted). Dads should hold a special place in the minds of society but all too often they are just the comics and jokers, or merely the workers and decision makers. Far too often they don’t occupy the critical space that they should…  so how do we fix this?

Possibly having a look at the interaction between Samuel and Eli may shed some light on the matter. As a young boy, the prophet Samuel lived apart from his parents. In a life-changing moment, an old man, Eli, provided Samuel with the wisdom and sense of perspective that the young boy needed. Eli was a father to two other boys, the Bible mentions that he was a poor father, who had not raised upstanding sons but in this moment, he plays the crucial role of dad in the life of this young boy. Samuel has a dream, a dream that would scare the daylights out of any 9-year-old, he hears audible voices. When he climbs out of bed to find out why Eli (the only other person in the house) is calling him, he discovers that Eli hasn’t called him. This happens a few times until Eli’s wisdom and experience kick in and he instructs the young boy to wait and listen because it is God who is speaking to him. Once he has heard from God, Eli says to Samuel to obey any instruction God has given him. This story highlights a couple of things:

 

We all need a dad in our lives

Dads provide a sense of safety, a sense that all is going to be OK. We feel as though risks are worth being taken, because dad says they are. We feel as though catastrophes are manageable because dad offers solutions. When our most deeply-hidden insecurity is revealed for all to see, dad pulls us towards himself and assures us that we are not as broken as we believe we are. This role is a critical role to be played out in everyone’s life, but not everyone is blessed to have a biological dad who can play this role.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Whether it be because of age, geography or pain, many of us have to look elsewhere for this dad. Samuel had to! He turns to someone who has walked the paths of life already. Now Eli, may not appear to be a prime candidate for a dad – he had failed with his two already. But, to be a dad, one doesn’t need to be perfect, just available. Eli happened to be old, but dads don’t need to be old to occupy that role. One of my most father-son like relationships in the professional world was with a fellow only a few years older than I. He shared two traits with Eli, firstly, he was available and secondly, deeply interested in me and my well-being. While I have a dad with whom I have a solid relationship, this more mature, wiser and more experienced colleague took me, the novice, under his wing and guided and protected me in my first few years of work. We all need dads!

 

Dads need to be dads in people’s lives

Eli was a prophet of notoriety in Israel in his day and yet receives no mention in the Bible other than for his role in Samuel’s life. In fact, the writer of the story even insists on mentioning his failings as a prophet and a father. But, for all its failings, Eli’s life seems to gain an eternal significance when he (finally) plays the role of dad in the life of his ‘surrogate son’, Samuel. God has put a key in the DNA of every man, a key that has the ability to secure, a key that can unlock. The greatest tragedy is that many of us men live our lives in the same way that Eli lived the majority of his – not having the courage to ever really use our key in the lives of others.

 

Let us begin to recreate the critical role of dads within our society

  • Look for a guy who has walked the road that you are walking and begin to develop a relationship with him. Value the input he has in your life.
  • As guys, look around for those who need guidance and security and become intentional in using your God-given key in their lives.
  • Dads of young kids – get the basics right. Love your children’s mom, show them what God means to you and be patient.
  • Dads of older kids – let them always know how much you love them and keep to your word. Never rest in building the depth of your relationship with them – your dad in heaven hasn’t with you!