Are You Listening to Me?

In our “Berenstein Bears” culture, being a good, godly father is often not only a seemingly thankless job but also increasingly draws overt attacks. Is it any wonder this role is coming under fire?

As I see it, there is a two-fold reason for the position being an easy target. The first core reason, as alluded to in the opening paragraph, stems from the reality that not only the position but also the intrinsic goals of the position are diametrically opposed to the god & agenda of this world. Yes, we should speak up about what is right. However, as I observe our culture, I wonder if anybody is even listening to what others say. It seems that all of us have so much to say that no one has time or energy to really listen. The picture I see is one of children arguing, holding their hands over their ears, trying to out-scream the next one. In general, we simply are not listening.

The second core reason we as fathers are under fire is the reality that we have failed many times. As a leader, I can almost hear the weary sigh, “Oh boy, here we go again,” coming from my own lips. We can stand here all day long and decry the deplorable state of our culture, and deep inside, all of us know the truth…we are all at fault. We as fathers know internally that we have all have missed the mark at times. I would suggest that regardless of whether I believe that my eye contains the log or the speck, if I am a leader, then it stands to reason that those we lead will mirror and amplify, our behavior. Here are two obvious questions that present themselves: Are we really listening? Is our culture simply mirroring what they have seen modeled by me?

As fathers and leaders, it appears that we are powerless to do much about the first core reason. However, it is well within our power to listen to, and learn from, our failures. Amidst the apparently endless line of people waiting to tell us how we have done it wrong, there’s no reason to be discouraged or succumb to the victim mentality. The reality is that there is usually at least some truth, and sometimes a lot of truth, in the criticisms we are receiving. It’s imperative that we listen because it is the truth that sets us free. There is hope for everyone when we as leaders grasp these realities. My belief is that if we can close our own mouths long enough to listen to what they’re saying, and ask wise questions, it may lead us all into a healthier, more Christ-like place.

So, to all of us fathers out there, this is not a scream to “close your mouth,” but rather an invitation to “open our ears.” We must lead toward Christ and we cannot do so in silence. However, as we lead, know that people are watching and learning…maybe from what we say, but much more from how we live.

To All Fathers, Happy Father’s Day, and THANK YOU 
…for loving, for leading, and for listening!
-Jeremy Sensenig

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