Of Fortune Cookies and Cracker Jacks

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I’ve decided that Chinese restaurants are for the kid at heart.  Where else can you go and get a surprise with every meal?  Fortune cookies are like Cracker Jacks.  You never take the toy seriously, but it sure is fun to find.  This week at the conclusion of a buffet of egg foo young, fried rice and fifteen different flavors of prepared chicken, an unusual event took place.  As my business colleagues all chuckled over their “fortunes” – they were funny – I excitedly broke open my cookie, only to find it vacant. There was no “A promotion is in your future” (good news for the self-employed) or “Sell rather than be poor.”  I got nothing, nada, zilch.  I wanted to return my entire buffet, like a defective box of Cracker Jacks.

fortunecookieBut there’s one “fortune” I do remember receiving a number of years ago.  It stuck with me because, unlike most of the other fortunes I’ve seen, I really wanted this one to come true. You will receive fantastic support from someone who believes in you. Who doesn’t want someone to believe in them?  And to give them fantastic support to boot?!  I’d call that person a coach.  And, hopefully, our kids would call that person “Dad.”

Like a treasure hidden in the field, I stumbled across an interesting role model for being a dad-coach.  It’s found in 2 Corinthians 10 where the apostle Paul makes a defense for his approach to ministry to the church at Corinth.  It fits nicely into the acrostic COACH.

First, a dad-coach CATALYZES by inspiring change based on truth. Examine 2 Corinthians 10:1-5 where he appeals for them to change from worldly thinking to Godly thinking by “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  As a dad, one of my most important jobs it so make sure that my kids learn the truth about their circumstances and their lives.

A dad-coach OBSERVES what’s really going on.  He doesn’t just look at the “surface of things” (verse 7) but discerns the fears and insecurities of his children.

A dad-coach AFFIRMS his kids.  He knows they are under God’s authority to do so (verse 8).  Giving continual affirmation is one of the most difficult and important privileges we have as dads.

A dad-coach CORRECTS aberrant behavior.  He follows through on his promise to provide the consequences of discipline when needed (verses 9-11).

Finally, a dad-coach HARVESTS an expanded ministry (verses 15-16) because of the labor of love he’s poured into his family.

For all his strengths, David was not a good dad-coach to his son Absalom.  There were many wounds between them.  2 Samuel 18:18 describes the empty legacy of Absalom’s life:

“During his lifetime Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, ‘I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.’”

Absalom had no progeny to catalyze the truth of God in their life.  No one to observe and take delight in their learning.  No one in whom to affirm God’s gifting.  No one to correct when they went astray.  And certainly no harvest.  A monument is a poor substitute for a child – it has no life.

Yet, we are more fortunate.  We have a real prize in that Cracker Jack box we call our home – our kids.  Let’s offer them a real fortune – our commitment to be a dad-coach.  That’s a prize that will last into eternity.  Go coach!

SOUND OFF:  What coaching tips would you share with other dads?

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