Some Musings About Fathers ~ Leading by Example

I spend a lot of time on the golf course with my sons. Timothy, I have followed behind, careful not to distract him from his focus. He never wanted me overly involved in golf or anything else. He greatly values his independence, and has always been that way, from the day he was born. James doesn’t mind my presence a bit. He will still hug his mama and allows me to walk with him on the course, rather than staying many yards behind. He talks to me in between shots.

God made my boys very different. They each have their own unique personalities. As a mom, I have the privilege of enjoying their boyness, listening to their stories, standing in awe as it becomes evident that bodily noises remain hysterical to them no matter how old they get, making them treats, encouraging them in their pursuits, nurturing them, and praying my heart out for them.

But, I don’t know how to help them become men, to inspire them to rise to the occasion, to lead by example, to show them how to throw a ball, change the oil, run a piece of construction equipment. That’s why God have them a father.

I am so grateful for my husband, and the gift of fathers to our children.

Yesterday, as I walked the golf course with James, the other father in the group felt compelled to give advice, not only to his son, but mine as well. Relentless advice. With every shot. There was nothing terribly wrong with it, and he meant it for good. James did not seem annoyed as he listened patiently, but, it was bothersome to me. I realized that my husband doesn’t do that. It made me grateful for his quiet way. I remember years ago, thinking and praying about his quietness, sometimes concerned because he didn’t parent or communicate the way I did. I didn’t understand that he could inspire, often without a word. He led so much more by example than with many words. Again, I don’t always understand what it takes to grow a young man, to inspire him to be more than he thought he could. My husband, quietly does it. He does it with our children, and other young men who have come into his life, and worked for him over the years. He is the kind of guy you can respect and trust. He leads by example, and by allowing a person to try something and maybe even get it wrong. He doesn’t hover over them, requiring perfection, or hounding them to get it right. He gives a little advice when asked. But, he doesn’t push his opinion on our boys or others. He is humble. He never told them what sport to play, or discouraged them from trying something. He supported their choices with his presence.

As a mom, I don’t always understand what is needed to grow the heart of a man, to shape and mold him into what he needs to be to lead his family, love his wife, work hard to support and protect his family and home. But, my husband does. And, I’m so grateful. Believe me, I’ve learned a great deal about the hearts of men and boys as God has surrounded me with them. In many ways, I’ve taken the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality. But, this girly-girl can only do so much in the land of boy. I’m so grateful we are in this together….so grateful for the gift of dads.

When you drive into Paris Island, (the place where basic training is held for Marines, otherwise known as “boot camp”), there is a sign that says, “We Make Marines”.  A shaping and molding takes place after they spend time there, a proven formula, that transforms young men into Marines. I like to think the same is true for a good dad. Many could put a sign in their own yards: “We Make Honorable Men”. Men who will love and serve Jesus, love their families, work hard, and be good citizens. As parents, we do this job like anything else, imperfectly, filtered through our own weaknesses and sins. But, it’s good to have a goal, a word picture, a standard to rise to. Boys need that. And, so do we. It’s also good to have a road map, a plan. We have God’s Word for that, and we can pray for the wisdom, the strength, the perseverance to parent the way we should. Good dads are strong enough to know when they need to lean on Him.

I’ll never forget, after many years of going to church without my husband, the day when we sat in the church pew together. As he folded his calloused hands to pray, I noticed a very young James look over at him and fold his hands carefully to match. I realized that in all my years of telling about the Lord and reading scripture (all important and necessary and good), that one act from his father, leading by example was just as needed, just as powerful in shaping his life, if not more so than any of my words. Showing sometimes speaks volumes more than telling, especially in the hearts of young men.



  1. I think you wrote this post just for me today, Kelly. xoxo

  2. Happy Father’s Day, Tim :o ) Your wife’s perspective of you here is one that is shared by everyone who knows you. Well written again, Kelly :o )

  3. Beautiful post Kelly. I agree with you. Happy Father’s Day to your husband.

  4. :) you do such great posts! It’s def so important for fathers to show their sons (and even daughters) by example. I really do think our actions can reach them in a way words just can’t.

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