These are my notes for my class this Sunday at the Contact Church:
*On Thanksgiving Day 2005, Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy spent the day with family, fellow coaches, and friends from church. In his autobiography, he wrote, "During the (football) season, holidays are always bittersweet for me. I'm always happy to spend time with family and friends, but I'm also reminded of how much I'm not around" (Quiet Strength, p. 246). A little over a month later, his oldest son Jamie committed suicide.
*Although Tony Dungy is a good and decent man who loves his family and God, he lives with regrets about how much time he has missed with his children.
*In 2 Samuel 14, the Bible describes another good and decent man who loved his family and God. Even more than Tony Dungy, King David must have regretted how much time he had lost with his children.
*David had a number of children by a number of wives. Deuteronomy 17:17 forbids Israelite kings from taking numerous wives, but he failed to obey, and it caused problems for his family and his nation for generations.
*In 2 Samuel 13, David's son Absalom murdered another son named Amnon. Amnon had raped Absalom's full sister. After Amnon's murder, Absalom fled. David appeared to be detached.
*In 2 Samuel 14, David sent for Absalom to return to Jerusalem. However, "Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king's face" (14:28, NIV). In other words, David continued to play the role of a passive father too busy to spend time with his children. Perhaps he thought that it was appropriate punishment for Absalom. Or David may not have felt that he could handle seeing his son after what he had done to his brother. As a result, Absalom grew resentful and rebelled.
*Our children need time with us. If they do not receive it, they are much more likely to turn to alcohol, drugs, crime, and other rebellious behavior. They are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and poor grades in school. Most importantly, they are more likely to reject our God.
*If children live with parents who spend time with them, they grow up knowing that they are valued. They will feel less inclination to rebel. They will enjoy better emotional health. They will find it easier to connect with our God.
*In future weeks, we will see how children need parents to teach them biblical truth, to be good examples, to show affection, and to discipline them. But before we can do any of that, we must be there for them. We must spend time with them.
*In The 12 Essentials of Godly Success, Tommy Nelson wrote, "(A child) needs a father and mother to look at him full in the face and listen to him. There are times when a child needs to be lectured, and there are times when a child needs simply to be listened to and loved and valued. Unfortunately, one of the most terrifying things for many children is to spend time with their fathers. Either their father ignores them and acts like they are not there, or their father takes them on a three-hour car ride, locks the doors, and preaches to them. Nothing could be worse for your relationship with your child. A child needs time where he or she is getting our full attention...Spend time with your children. Don't lecture your child unless there is the need. Love him and laugh at his jokes" (pp.180-181).
*We do not know how much time we will have with our children. So let's enjoy our time with them, and let them know by our presence in their lives that we value them.
*At his son's funeral, Tony Dungy said it well: "Parents, hug your kids---every chance you get. Tell them that you love them every chance you get. You don't know when it's going to be the last time" (Quiet Strength, p. 254).