I don’t often recommend a volume without reservation, but I think every man should read Temptations Men Face by Tom Eisenman. I’m not saying I agree with everything in it, or that you will, but it’s one of those works that deserves being read . . . especially by men. I appreciate Tom’s candour and practicality. He pulls no punches; neither does he wrench your gut with guilt. His observations, insight, and suggestions are both penetrating and provocative. In fact . . . that book got me thinking about the top temptations father face.
First, the temptation to give things instead of giving ourselves—our presence, our personal involvement.
Don’t misunderstand. Providing for one’s family is biblical. First Timothy 5:8 calls the man who fails to provide for his family’s needs “worse than an unbeliever.” But the temptation I’m referring to goes far beyond the basic level of need. It’s the toys vs. time battle: a dad’s desire to make up for his long hours and absence by unloading material stuff on his family rather than being there when he is needed. Like in the seats during football games or in the audience during a band concert, like by your child’s side when the homework calls for a father’s encouragement, or driving the boat when your child is learning to waterski. Nothing takes the place of a father who gets involved. N-O-T-H-I-N-G!
Second, the temptation to save our best for the workplace.
Nobody has an endless supply of emotional energy, creativity, enthusiasm, ideas, humour, leadership drive, and a zest for life. How easy it is for dads to use up all those things at work, leaving virtually nothing for the end of the day. As a result, the wife and children get only the leftovers. Fathers, our families deserve better! By failing to pace ourselves, by not deliberately saving some of our creative energy for home, we tend to be listless, negative, boring, and predictable around the house. How rare are those unselfish men who think ahead, maintain right priorities, and keep their families surprised by joy.
Third, the temptation to deliver lectures rather than earning respect by listening and learning.
Wisdom for Dads, James 1:19 is worth a look, here: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (NIV). When things get out of hand at home, it’s our normal tendency to reverse the order James suggests. First, we get mad. Then, we shout (lecture No. 38 . . . or is it No. 39?). Last, we listen. When that happens, we get tuned out (I’ve learned that the hard way). Our family members may stop. They may look. But they aren’t listening. They go through a slow burn. It’s a sobering realisation, dads, but our home is not an extension of the office . . . and our wife and children are not employees. Maybe we get respect automatically where we work, but at home we must earn it the old-fashioned way. We must work for it.
Fourth, the temptation to demand perfection from those under our roof.
We fathers can be extremely unrealistic, can’t we? It does me good to remember that a .350 batting average is considered tops in the American Baseball league. That means the professional baseball ballplayer swings and misses well over half the times he’s at the plate. Yet .350 means that he’s still considered the batting champ. In fact, if he keeps that up long enough, he’s Hall of Fame bound. Sure is easy to set our expectations for the wife and children out of reach, expecting them to bat a thousand. Fathers are commanded not to exasperate their children (Ephesians 6:4), which suggests being an annoyance, an irritation, one who causes grief. An exasperated child is one who can’t jump quite high enough, thanks to a demanding father who mistakenly thinks good coaching means always raising the bar.
Fifth, the temptation to find intimate fulfilment outside the bonds of monogamy.
Thanks to our ability to rationalise, we men can talk ourselves into the most ridiculous predicaments imaginable. I’ve heard most of them. I’ve also listened to the children of adulterers after the fact, who never understand, who hurt beyond description, who carry scars indefinitely. The charm of seductive passion is incredibly strong, able to blind even the godly. The enticement can be powerful enough to make a man momentarily forget his family as well as ignore the crippling consequences of his sin. That’s why I suggest that dads carry a picture of their brood and look at it often. It’s impossible to fantasise sensual lust while looking at the smiling, trusting faces of your family.
Sixth, the temptation to underestimate the importance of your cultivating your family’s spiritual appetite.
Yes, you cultivate it. Fathers, listen up: Your wife and children long for you to be their spiritual pacesetter. Children love knowing that their dad loves God, walks with God, and talks about God. Never underestimate your role as the spiritual head. If your wife is running circles around you in this area, that tells me a lot more about you than about her. And don’t think the children don’t notice, and wonder.
Ready for a challenge? Begin to spend time with God, become a man of prayer, help your family know how deeply you love Christ and desire to honour Him.
Why not start today? C’mon, men . . . it’s one of the greatest gifts any father can give a family.
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, “For Dads” in The Finishing Touch: Becoming God’s Masterpiece (Dallas: Word, 1994), 282-284. Copyright © 1994, Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.