by Heath Barth
A few years ago, my wife and I were challenged to develop a mission statement for our family—to think about what really mattered most to us as we raised our two daughters. After much discussion and debate, we concluded that our deepest desire for our girls was that they would love God, love themselves, and love others. This became our mission statement and the driving force in how I wanted to lead our family.
As I walked away that day, I realized that we needed to look at everything we were doing as a family, all of our activities and schedules, and ask the question, “Does this help us love God, love ourselves, and love others? If not, is it really the best thing for us as a family?” As a father, and the leader of my home, I wanted to model this for my girls. I wanted to help them see that following Jesus really means committing everything to Him.
My wife and I began to evaluate all aspects of our life. It meant laying down our desires and vision for our kids and, instead, seeking and pursuing God’s desire for them. This was a tough one for me. I grew up playing both baseball and basketball and had this vision of my girls being multi-sport athletes. However, after filtering it through the lens of our mission statement, we made the decision to allow our girls to participate in only one activity, sport, or club. This allowed us more time to focus on loving God and loving others. Instead of spending hours at practice, games, and meetings, we use that time to invite other families over, to pour into other people, and to serve those whom God has placed in our path.
This decision also meant that we would have to say no to some things that we really wanted to do. In the Winter of 2016, we were planning to go to a family reunion out of town. We were all dressed and about to walk out the door when my phone rang. It was my neighbor, who was frantic. His family had come into town to visit him and his wife, and early that morning a fire had started in his attic. He had no place for him and his family to go.
I knew that my family was expecting us at the reunion, but I also knew that God had placed this neighbor in our lives and was giving us an opportunity to love not only him, but also his family. My wife and I stopped, prayed, and instantly decided that we needed to welcome this family. We made them breakfast, sat and listened to their anxiety about the situation, and simply made ourselves and our home available for whatever they needed. For the next two weeks, they lived in our basement while the restoration company worked to clear our neighbor’s home of all signs of the fire.
My oldest daughter still talks about the day that our neighbor and his family came to live with us for a few weeks.
As we have continued to pursue this mission statement for our family, it has been hard, and oftentimes messy, but oh so rewarding. I think that’s the challenge and the reward of following Jesus fully. I am reminded that our call as dads is to help form our children into disciples of Jesus, teaching them to follow Him and trust Him completely.
Happy Father’s Day!
Heath Barth and his wife, Jennifer, have two daughters and live in Bullitt County.