I thought looking back was easy. I was wrong. When my 21 Days of Reflection began I was lost. I didn’t know where to begin to make it meaningful. Should I look a 2013, my 30’s, or my whole life? Then I got this question in my head… “What if the reflection you see is not the image others see?” And with that question, I had answers to find. Of course I asked God to reveal it to me. I guess I was thinking a vision or something. God had something else in mind as He often does. Something better. Now when I look back at the beginning of this process I can see God had a journey in mind.
The first stop on God’s little journey? 7AM Monday Morning – NY Bagel off Exit 23 in Huntersville. My men’s small group. The guys in my men’s Bible study are all fathers and we are studying 1st Timothy right now. 1st Timothy is a letter from the Apostle Paul to his Spiritual Son in the Faith, Timothy. These letters are essentially instructions to Timothy about all kinds of things. Our group decided to use 1st Timothy 3 as a guideline for being a good father. Jim, the leader of this study, suggested we read 1st Timothy 3 and replace the word “Deacon” with “father” for our study. A good piece of information, but this thick-headed boy didn’t see his Father’s intent just yet.
Before we see where this journey takes us let’s think about something. Letters. You know. The old fashioned pen and paper style letters. Letters are an important way to express feelings. Feelings that would otherwise by disguised by the emotions of human interaction. Letters can provide an account of something. They can also last a lifetime. They can show up at precise, calculated moments in someone’s life. They can reveal someone’s true intent. They also take time to write and show you care a lot.
Have you ever gotten a letter from your Dad? If you were to receive a letter from your father, what do you hope it’d say? “You are an amazing kid” or “We always enjoyed camping. Make sure you take your kids.” Maybe you’d want to read that your life makes them proud. Maybe the letter would just tell you all the secret places to fish. Or maybe, it’d tell you about his struggle to bring you to God, provide for you, and how he didn’t think he was a good father at times. A letter like that may just answer a lot of questions that we carry around everyday.
The next stop on our journey is revelation. Not the book. The act. I was thinking about my Bible study and the letters I’d like to write to my kids. I was also reading over 1st Timothy 3. Then I got this idea for my blog post on 21 Days of Reflection. Why not write about the instructions Paul gives Timothy through the lens of being a good father? But that’s not about reflection so at first I scrapped the idea. I’d certainly wrtie about this but not during 21 Days of Reflection.
Then I began to count Paul’s instructions for leaders. There are twenty. But wait, that’s almost 21. Is this a coincidence? (I’ve learned to see coincidence as the high possibility that God is working and speaking.). But there are 21 Days to reflect on. What about the extra day? Oh yes, I could reflect on looking at these qualities through lens of being a father. Each of the twenty following days I’d spend reflecting on the qualities of a good father listed in 1st Timothy 3 and asking one question:
Would my kids say I am good at (insert Paul’s Leadership Quality)?
Here are a list of the qualities:
Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. (1 Timothy 3:2-4, 6-10, 12 NIV)
My journey is not over, but now I’ve got the map. 1st Timothy 3 is my guide through these 21 Days. My direction is to look through my kids eyes at myself with these qualities in mind. How will I measure up? There are some really hard questions to answer. It has been painful and rewarding. Most of all I’ve seen some things about myself that I can change to be a better father, husband, son, and friend. All of this came from beginning my 21 Days of Reflection. It took slowing down. It took a long look in the mirror. It took a deep reflection. It took that penetrating question. Is the reflection I see what my kids see?
I suspect the next stop on the journey will be writing letters to the kids about my reflections. I can only imagine what God has in mind.
I hope your journey through these 21 Days has been good. Continue to reflect, keep your thoughts in prayer, and write your thoughts down. I can’t wait to read Brian’s post next week and see what he’s been up to.