Father's Success

Photo via D H Wright
I had a very difficult conversation with my wife about 2 weeks ago. We had just dropped off the kids at their small group. Prior to this, I had finished a chapter in Every Man's Marriage by Fred Stoeker. At the end of the chapter, there was a list of questions to ask your wife and if she was willing to have a genuine, heartfelt and humbling conversation. As the words tumbled off my lips, I knew the answer before Amanda even began to speak:

Me:  Do I draw more prestige and self-esteem from my success as a leader and husband at home, or more from my work and other accomplishments?
Amanda  (without a pause): From work.

I knew it was true without hearing it. But why?

Well there are several factors that go into the equation, all of which involve me taking the weaker path, forsaking my definition of authentic manhood for a cheap knock off of self worth:

  1. Recognition:  I think that every parent can relate to this point. Being a parent is often a thankless job in which you receive very little recognition for your eforts. You take care of, feed, cloth, love & cherish these little lives and most nights it goes unnoticed, because it is the norm, the expectation. The 2 year old had an accident...of course you'll clean it up. They dirty the pile of dishes and endlessly full laundry baskets...you'll clean it up, that's what parents do.

    At work, it's a different story. If I help out on a project, I get verbally recognized by my peers. Hear it enough times and that recognition eventually becomes part of your definition for success.
  2. Compensation: Closely tied to recognition, you are hardly ever compensated for your success in the home, at least in a monetary sense.

    Whenever I meet or exceed expectations at my job, I am rewarded with paycheck, followed up by a substantial bonus every year. In a culture where success is tied to money, it is difficult to sever that definition from an authentic one.
  3. Tangibility: This is by far the hardest one to grasp as a father. There are no metrics for being successful at parenthood, unless you count your children never ending up in jail and finding a decent job when they move out of the house. There is no job description, no offer letter, no interview process for becoming a parent.

    Yet, at my other job, I am paid to do a certain set of tasks. Those tasks are often clearly defined and make it easy for me to measure my success.

At the end of the day, the Return on Investment in my family outweighs that of my investment in my career. Namely because eternity is at stake. I am their example of what a true, authentic relationship with Christ means. They could potentially leave God because they found no value in my investments, where the words of my mouth did not match the actions of my heart.