Thursday, March 22, 2012

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Don Keehner

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Whenever I describe Don Keehner to someone, I tell them he is one of those few guys whom you meet and know immediately he has been with God.  Don, or "Keehner" was my wife's and my youth minister in high school at Trader's Point Christian Church.  He is the man who married us, and we have stayed in contact since then.  He's been married to his high school sweetheart, Kelly for 22 years.  After being in youth ministry for a number of years and the senior minister at Northview Christian Church in Danville, Indiana, he now serves as the discipleship minister at Traders Point Christian Church in Zionsville, Indiana.

The following is an interview I conducted with Keehner over the phone this morning.

If there is one thing you could tell a young father/husband, what would it be?
Love your wife, and pour into and understand her.  Reinforce it in your marriage.  Wives kind of doubt inwardly sometimes, “ok, does he really love me?”
For us guys, sometimes we think we can say, “I love you” one time on Saturday and we are good for a week.  Then we think that our wives wouldn’t question it or doubt it.  But what I have found is that continually reminding and showing affection towards my wife is incredibly important.  From that, she gains a solid foundation of believing it.
Reinforcing love looks different for each couple.  For some that could be a letter, for some it could be verbal, for some it could be a gift, or writing it on a mirror.  Sometimes it’s a touch in a crowded room, or a look in the eye...just to say, “I love you, and I’m thankful.”  You just have to keep reinforcing it to your wife.  I don’t think that ever stops.  It’s not for just young married.  I’ve been married twenty-two years.  You just have to keep reinforcing.
Keep reassuring your wife of your commitment.  The more I do that, the more I think about it as a man, and want to stay committed.  As men, we are so easily tricked.  We lose focus, at least I do.  When I remind her of my commitment, I remind myself to stay focused.
What is the most important ritual or tradition for men to instill in their families?
In my family, we try to stress the importance of living by God’s Word.  We’ve been pretty good as a family at reading it together.  As the kids get older - even at 3,4,5 we tried to demonstrate a repentance in front of acknowledgement that dad messes up too.  I try to admit to my kids when I go wrong and help them understand why.  Make the Gospel flesh in front of them.  A lot of times that comes out in being open when I’m wrong towards them due to my attitude, my frustration, due to my lack of comes out in my flesh winning.
At times we’ve had to trust God faithfully.  If your children are older, and you have a change at church, you sit them down and explain that to them.  They will say, “Dad, why?  Those are all my friends?”  I know when they are younger most everything revolves essentially around the family.  They have no concept of time and distance, so they kind of make their friends as you go.  
As they get older, we try to live in front of them our struggles, but also our clinging to hard it is, but it’s good to follow his ways.  It doesn’t always mean we paint a beautiful picture of our walk with God.  The way my wife and I have always approached it is just to be very real in the joys of following Christ and the struggles of following Christ.  That started at three years old when I forced my daughter to stand on the fireplace longer than I should of, because she is strong willed and I wanted to win.  I told her that wasn’t right of me.  I needed to apologize.  When I lose control I need to admit it, repent, and make amends.  And that’s been my continual walk with them, just to say we are trying to live in a manner that is instructed by in grace.  We say , “sometimes I need you to offer me grace”, then I reciprocate back to them.
What is a common mistake you see men make?  What should they do differently?
Where they put their priority in regards to time.  We live in a culture that demands a lot, and we lose track of what’s important.  We live in the North American culture of consumerism.  We believe in putting in a good work so you can earn a good paycheck.  We often end up sacrificing the family.  We sacrifice the important for the immediate.  
Men need to make a certain amount because it makes us feel good.  That causes us to spend more time on the job of time, to neglect our family, to put more effort into making money.  We need to make a living, don’t get me wrong, but we fail a lot of times as we sell ourselves to the job instead of our family.
It is hard to balance your time on your own.  You have to be in a community; at least I do.  You can get tricked.  I would say their is a spiritual force at work.  That is the way Satan works in our culture.  We are affluent, we can make money....not easily, but it is readily there.  It can be a good thing, but we can fall trapped to it.  
We can have an abundance, but that doesn’t mean we are providing what our kids and our wives really need.  A lot of times that is just a physical presence - our time, and our energy put towards them.  If you get home and you are completely beat, how can you have energy for them?
Don’t work so hard to succeed at the things that really aren’t that important.  You have to succeed at what is really important.
In as few words as possible, what does the term “family leadership” mean to you?
Both husband and wife relying on Christ to lead them as they do his will and fulfill his mission for that particular family.
What is the most powerful way a man can impact his family’s relationship with Christ?
First, he has to have a relationship with Christ and pursue that, and love being loved by God.  He has to protect that, and always be growing in his walk with Christ.
The husband has to pour into his wife and love her.  Teaching is more caught than taught.  The kids are going to see, “my dad loves my mom”, and they are going to be attracted to that...before they get freaked out when they realize what you do behind closed doors.
Lastly, spend time with your kids.  Encourage them and walk with them, so they know what’s important to their dad....however that is communicated to them.  There has to be a focused effort to spend time with each kid.

Related Posts:

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Brian Christy

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Ron Stohler

I Hear Voices.....The Good Kind: Fatherhood Advice from Andy Stanley

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