I recently gave a talk on compassion to about 70 men and I was amazed how many men were affected by the talk. Many of them told me ways that they were going to go home and show compassion towards someone that they love. One guy told me how he was going to repair a relationship with his mother that had been scarred for over 10 years.
The words that I spoke were from my heart, but they were God ordained. Before I get all puffed up about how I well I communicated the message, let’s look at the source of those heart-felt emotions and realize they don’t come from our own selfish tendencies.
I asked the question to the men that day that I will ask you now: Why is it easier for us to show compassion towards strangers than towards our own families? Why are we so ready to scold our children for things they have done wrong? Why are we so unforgiving towards our wives, girlfriends or parents for mistakes they have made or things they have said?
Aren’t there times in our own lives where we have asked and gotten compassion? How about when we have come home drunk? How about when we’re sick? What about the time we broke something of our wives? Or the time when we had to tell our wives we were fired or laid-off?
Showing compassion towards people is not as easy for men as it is for women. Women have this natural instinct to show love and tenderness towards others. It’s like they were born with it. As men, we expect our wives to toughen up or shake it off. We are so task oriented and problem solvers that we lose sight of what women often want–tenderness and compassionate love. They want us to be in the moment with them. We want to be engrossed in our work, in front of the TV, or playing sports. Sometimes we want to be left alone.
I know I struggle with this in my life. I do many volunteer jobs and serve in my church and at various homeless shelters and so forth, but when it comes to my wife, I am not as compassionate as I need to be. I struggle with this because I want her to be strong like me and be able to handle things. However, when I screw up, I seek and receive her compassion. I believe most of the struggle is a selfish desire that I must be aware of in order to break the deadlock. I have to see the root issue and make a choice to turn away from what I want and take the focus off of me and turn it towards her or others.
Examine your life and choices and think about times when your wife or your children have shown compassion towards you. I am sure there has been a time when you have broken a promise to your children about playing a game with them or when you missed a sporting event or school function.
It’s imperative that we display the same compassionate heart towards our family and friends that we expect them to show towards us when we need it the most. Our children will learn how to show compassion from us. They will model compassion by what we teach them and more importantly, show them. As you know, our actions speak louder than our words.
When was the last time that you served in the community with your family? Men, we have to be the servant leaders of our family. It starts from us and then our wives and children will follow that lead. I would encourage you to volunteer at your church, a homeless shelter, help an elderly neighbor rake her leaves or shovel the driveway. Whatever the compassionate act is, bring your children with you. As fathers, we must display a servant’s heart so that our children will grow up and want to make a difference in people’s lives. That message starts at home and more importantly, it should come from their fathers.
I have this re-occurring image in my head that I am in heaven and God asks me some tough questions. One of the questions that I hear Him ask me: What did you do to model compassion towards others and did this make an impact on them?
Because I believe our children are on loan to us from God, I don’t want to disappoint Him. I feel it’s imperative to lead and guide my two boys towards leading a life of selfless activity. I believe if they lead a selfless life, they will succeed in life no matter what direction they choose to follow.
I will challenge you the same way that I challenged the 70 men that I spoke of earlier. I challenge you to wash the feet of your wife, children, parents, or a friend and tell them how much you love them. There’s something humbling about getting on your knees and being a servant to your loved one. You will be amazed on the impact that it will have on your life as well as the foot washing recipient.
While I believe it’s important that your children wash the feet of someone they love, they probably won’t enjoy that act as much. Therefore, I have listed some questions and an activity for you to do with your children that they will enjoy more and learn the same message.
Enjoy your time together and please feel free to email me comments from your dates.
During each of your dates, it’s important for each of you to answer questions.
Father and Child Discussion
* Compassion/Serving Others
1. Why is it important to serve others?
2. Tell me a time when you served someone. What did it feel like?
3. What does compassion mean?
4. Has someone ever shown compassion towards you? What did it feel like?
5. How have I succeeded or failed you by showing compassion towards you?
6. What can transpire when we show compassion?
7. How can I serve others?
8. What can we do to find time (eliminate things) to serve others more?
* Activity: Select a service area that you both have interest in and find some outlets to serve in your community. Arrange a time and/or date to go and serve in the community or church. Possible choices could be picking up garbage, serving the homeless a meal, fixing dinner for a neighbor, doing yard work for an elderly person or a single mother, visiting a nursing home, volunteering at church, go play ball with neighbor kids, help a fellow student with their homework, write a letter to a teacher, pastor, or a military person thanking them for their service, etc. Be creative and please be willing to share with others.
For more of this date or the other 23 dates, log onto to www.coachministry.com to purchase a complete copy of “24 Dates With My Dad”. Topics range from Family/Friends to Money and Trust to Anger/Respect and Forgiveness.