“What is God DOING?”
I know I’m not alone with that question. After all, it’s 2020. Shaking a fist at the sky seems pretty normal at this point. We are globally facing a pandemic that has led to economic chaos, and is compounded by political strife and racial unrest. Yet we still go on with everyday life, shouldering the work of shepherding a family, serving and loving our wives, leading and working along co-workers, and engaging in our communities.
Whether you are a “glass half full” person or are burdened by the weight of all that is happening, the monotony mixed with the heaviness of these days is wearing on us as men. For more than 37% of men in the U.S., the pandemic is causing minor to major negative impact on their mental health. That’s compounded on top of the fact that, even before the pandemic, men are three times more likley than women to commit suicide.
These days call for extraordinary measures—of focus, of reaching for help, and of reworking to a new normal. But, these days can also call for a single foundational perspective shift that can be a bellwether for our entire families. It’s rooted in that same first question, but the “em-PHA-sis”, as they say, is in a different place:
“What is GOD doing?”
This is the question we need to be asking ourselves as men and fathers. And it is the question we need to be asking our children. The development and discipleship of your heart and the heart of your child(ren) are not mutually exclusive. They work hand-in-hand. When we understand how our heart is aligned with God’s, we can better guide our children to seek out what God is doing with their hearts.
And believe me, He is doing something with their hearts whether we realize it or not. I’ll never forget the time when my five-year-old asked if her chronic illness had something to do with original sin, and then grasped the concept that heaven would take that illness away. I wept, because it was a humbling thought as I realized that God made our children in His image, also. Yes, they can’t grasp what we can try to wrestle with just yet; but they, too, interact with His wisdom, His grace, His counsel, and His care. It’s also a calming thought, that we play a role in our child’s discipleship but that it’s not ultimately up to us.
So if “What is GOD doing?” is question number one, here’s five more practical questions to ask yourself - and then ask of your kids - as you become disciples together:
How did scripture change my day today? What impact did it have?
Am I finding enough stillness to listen to the Holy Spirit today?
Am I taking notice of what God is trying to teach me?
Where is God at work in this very mundane or very challenging issue?
In all of today, how do I join God where He’s working in me and in the world?
These questions point to partnership—with God, with your own heart, and with your family. They don’t drive to perfection nor expect answers. They are aligned with the Hebrew definition of “acknowledge” in Proverbs: “to be on the lookout, actively reviewing.” Joshua, Moses and countless others have done this before us. God guided them through their questions, their wrestlings, and their thanksgivings to lead those around them.
These questions, too, are not necessarily the ones that have to be answered in the quiet dark of the early morning, though they certainly lend themselves to that. Instead, they can be built into your family’s own culture and practice of discipleship—talk about them over dinner, chat about faith while you toss a ball in the backyard, go grab a sweet treat and just listen to your child talk. Be as curious about your kids’ faith as you are about their baseball game, piano lesson, day at school, time with friends, etc. Share with them what God is teaching you. It’s in these moments of faithfulness that God will work.
As dad’s, we often feel so inadequate. But God reminds us that HE is at work. HE is the one shaping us and shaping our kids from the inside out if we just align with Him. It’s a lifelong journey; a marathon and not a sprint. We will gloriously fail at relating to Him, to ourselves, and to our kids at times. But we will also experience the freedom of a relationship with Him and our families that is grounded in grace, when we seek to be a part of His work.
Today’s times aren’t necessarily harder than the eras that saw world wars, deep civil unrest, and economic turmoil before us; but they do present unique challenges that no one alive today has experienced. The only solution is to abide in Christ, which is the actual meaning behind Minno, our kids streaming platform. It’s in abiding that we experience God’s kindness and good love. A family centered in that, continually reviewing and asking God where He’s at work, is one that will thrive.
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Erick Goss is CEO and Co-Founder of Minno, a Nashville-based media and technology company focused on serving Christian kids and families through an ad-free subscription-video-on-demand platform, parent resource blog and children’s book publishing program, anchored by the best-selling Laugh and Grow Bible for Kids. Goss earned a reputation as an innovator in digital marketing at Amazon, where he was instrumental in the launch of Amazon’s first e-book and print-on-demand businesses, Amazon’s Visa Card, and the now-famous Super Saver Shipping program, and later as Chief Marketing Officer at Magazines.com. This expertise, coupled with his passion for ministry, led Goss to co-found Creative Trust Ventures—where he ran JellyTelly and launched the best-selling video series Buck Denver Asks...What’s in the Bible?—a success that led him to create Minno. Beginning his career in the U.S. Navy, where he served as a helicopter pilot and later as a spokesperson at the Pentagon, Goss is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and has graduate degrees from the University of Michigan (MBA) and Troy University (MA). He is an Adjunct Professor for Digital Marketing at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. Erick, his wife, and three daughters live in Nashville where they are active in their local church. Goss is also involved with the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work.