The things we do together are the things we value. Quite literally, your past times and the way you spend your hours, days and weeks are the things you value. What are you passing down? What shared activity do you do with your sons? Your daughters? Your friends? These are the things you’ll be remembered by and reveal your core values.
My dad and I spent a quick 36 hours over the holiday break to do some duck hunting in Easter Washington. We met in North Bend and made the 4 hour drive over the pass together in his truck, talking about the grandkids and the fishing business and current events and past hunts. “Remember that time we went duck hunting and it was 0 degrees when we got out of the rig?” I asked. “Or how about the time we hunted in a cow pasture with no ducks in site?” My dad responded. We spent time together as a father and son. Though I enjoy hunting, it really isn’t my #1 passion for an outdoor pursuit. But for my dad? He loves nothing more. He loves the camaraderie in the duck blind as a group of hunters quietly await the next flock of ducks to fly into the pond. He loves the hunting lodge where we go each year and sitting around at night telling hunting stories over a glass of wine. He loves the interaction with the guides, their trusty hunting dogs, and the other guests. He loves everything about the hunt. And so, we hunt together. And through many trips, he has passed this down to me. My dad doesn’t talk about valuing hunting or merely collect books on the subject- he makes time each season to go hunting. Because it is how we spend our time that defines our priorities.
Day 1 of the hunt was slow hunting but a marvelous sunrise. That night over dinner we talked about the day, about the great shots we had and the many more we missed. Day 2 was one of the hunts we’ll remember for a very long time. Instead of being partnered with other hunters as we had the day before, this hunt was just my dad and myself and our guide. We drove in the pre-dawn darkness out to the duck blind, which was 20 minutes from the lodge at 5:30am. While the guide set up the decoys and the dog anxiously whined beside us, the first ducks were already trying to land on the pond. You could tell it was going to be a magical day. At shooting time (6:45am) our guns were blasting as the first bunch of ducks flew into the decoys. 3 ducks flew in and we got them all. A few minutes later a few more flew in and we got them too. Within 20 minutes of the hunt- we already had half our limit. By 8:30 am we had limited on our ducks. We took pictures and high fived and laughed with the guide about a great hunt. I walked back to get the truck from its parking spot a few hundred yards away and I could see my dad, sitting by the pond, as a hundred more ducks flew into the pond. The hunt was done, so they were safe, but I could hear him laughing- “did you see that?” he asked. It was a great day- one I’ll probably tell my own children about years from now on one of our own hunts.
There in a duck blind in Connell, WA it became pretty clear to me. Spend time together. Create a culture of fun and adventure and intimacy with our children. These are the things we’ll pass on! Ephesians 6:4 tells us “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” You can’t lead someone by the hand to a place you are not already going. It is physically impossible. No- when we lead by the hand, we are taking our kids with us to a destination we are already travelling towards ourselves.
Quite often people will say to me, “When I have kids, I’ll make sure they do this or do that.” Often it is about going to church more or getting more involved with local Christian community or local charity or service. My response is always this: “If you want your kids to value something, you better start valuing it yourself. Because more than what we say we value to our children, they will learn by our example.”
From father to son I have received much from a great dad of my own. Now within my own family I have to be mindful- what am I passing down? What values am I instilling? Day by day I’m trying to lead my kids to the Master- by the hand.