This blog is about next practices – next practices in life, business and commercial real estate. While I tend to post more about business and CRE, I’ve had a number of triggers that led to this post. I realize that not everyone shares my faith and my worldview. This is how I look at life, and this post will be a little more personal than most.
To set this up, let me back up a bit.
In 2003, my great friend Mike Arnett stayed with our family for a month two different times. He was completing medical rotations at the hospital on the Army based I was stationed at the time. I would notice him writing in a notebook on a regular basis. He was writing to his children. He had two at the time. He and his wife are now expecting their 7th (not a typo).
I started journaling to my son shortly after. I would write about my observations of him. I would write what was going on with me. The idea was that when he was older, I could give him something that would tell his story. It would also give him a view into his daddy’s heart. I now have 3 of these notebooks – one for each child – and they all need to be updated.
I am part of a men’s group that meets on Thursdays. We talk about our faith. We meet to help each other lead our companies and our families better. These are incredible guys, and I’m a better man because of their influence. In January, one of these men shared that he wrote a letter to his children when they were young. The letter was about all the things that he hoped for them. I was inspired and remembered thinking that I wanted to do the same.
Then today, I was listening to a podcast from a new friend that I met last week at the Platform Conference in Nashville. Dan Hayes and his wife have a great podcast called The Simple Life Together. I highly recommend it. He was sharing that he wrote a letter to his son before he deployed after 9/11. His purpose was to communicate to his son all that he would want him to know should he not return. Again, I was inspired.
So, here is a not so short letter to my children. I share this because I believe intentionally communicating with our children what they should know is a great idea. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, but it could also be my last. I want to intentionally take steps to share certain things with my children that could make a huge difference in their lives. I share this to encourage you to do the same.
I love you. In fact, each of you have helped redefine what love means to me. At each of your births, I remember knowing that you deserved a better dad than I was that day. God has used all three of you to refine me, and I’m sure that He will continue to do so.
When you boil life down to its core, relationships are the only things that matter and that last for eternity. It is not about how much you know, how much you make, or how successful you are. It is about how you made life better for others.
I submit to you that the most important thing is your relationship with Jesus. It is the most important thing to your mother and me. I want you to see this in our lives – not just hear it from our lips. The world will tell you one thing. Many different theologies, denominations, and religions will tell you it is about something else. I’m telling you that it is about love. God loved you enough to create you just as you are. Then He loved you enough to buy you back through His Son. He loves you, and so do I.
Will – You are so intelligent. You are athletically gifted. You have such a passion and a desire to succeed. You want to please people. You are a natural leader, and I can see how others are attracted to you. You will have the ability and opportunity to hugely impact the lives of others in a positive way. I want you to know that I care more about your character than your success or achievements. I want you to know that you are unconditionally loved. I love you not because of your achievement, but because you are my son. That will never change – no matter what! I want you to maximize your potential, but whether you do or not has no bearing on my love for you. Remember to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Ben – You are the flavor of our family. You see the world in possibilities. Your creativity and imagination blow me away. You inspire. You keep us laughing constantly. You have to be responsible for the majority of my smiles. You are a non-conformist and your give-a-darn is completely broken. I love that about you. Do not let school, society, or me take away your creativity and personality. Don’t let us suck away your passion and zeal for life. I also don’t want you to get kicked out of school. You have the ability to bring joy and life to the lives of the people who are blessed to know you. Continue delivering smiles. You belong in this family. And I love you – no matter what!
Maddie – You are as tough as nails, and as girlie as they come at the same time. And I love that about you! You absolutely delight me. I love how you light up when you see me. I love how you run and give me a hug when I come home from a trip. I love how you want to sing a song with me every night at bedtime. I love that you asked me to marry you the other night. I want you to know that you are beautiful. I want to be a safe place for your heart. In fact, I will protect your heart until it is time. And when that day comes, I will give it back to you so you can give it to a blessed young man. I see the best qualities of your mother in you. You love people. You already have deep friendships. You constantly make those around you feel like a million bucks. You have me wrapped. Regardless of what may happen in the future, you are my daughter, and I love you – no matter what!
You three completely rock! Love, Dad.
So what would you say to your kids? What would it have meant to have received this sort of letter from your father? Let me hear from you in the comments section below.