I'm so pleased to welcome my dear Mr. Simons on the blog today. If you've read my blog or followed me on Instagram any length of time, you know that he is a pastor to me and our boys, a servant in our home, and a discipler at heart. I like to say that Troy is GraceLaced Shoppe's "chief encouragement officer" as he is so often the one that points me and the rest of our team back to what is true and worthy of praise in our endeavors.
As we launch the Father's Day Collection in the shoppe, I wanted to invite Troy here to share some of his wisdom and heart about fatherhood, parenting, and marriage. As you may know, the Resolutions in the Shoppe were composed by Troy for our family, and offered now to you all to be part of yours. I hope you're blessed by his words here today...
(Guest post by Troy Simons)
Being a Father of six obviously does not make me an expert at parenting. On the contrary, it means I have more opportunity to make mistakes and if there’s any wisdom it hopefully comes from learning from those mistakes. I’m humbled to share about the Simons’ journey through parenting, and I pray that what I pass on will bless.
Your questions (summed up below) are the same questions I ask as a father, so here are some thoughts...
How do you instill discipline in your sons?
Right?? If they would just be disciplined, the world would be a better place - beds made, clothes put away, BEDROOM LIGHT OFF when they leave the room! We could all make a list.
Harry S. Truman said, "In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves...self-discipline with all of them came first."
I hate to say it, but it begins with us. If dad is slack in his discipline there’s a problem. Men have to be leaders in discipline. Not a little ahead. Way out in front. Do you read your Bible every day and feel good about it? Really? It is not an option, though we are inclined to think it is. Make a list of things that you know you must do and do them. Make a plan and do them. No Excuses. THEN, encourage your kids toward discipline. Help them to manage their time, homework, stuff from a position of example and influence. This is an absolute must. It's hard, but it must start there.
(Editorial note by Ruth: Our oldest son, and a few others, get up early now to read Bible with their dad. Rather than coaxing or legislating (which can be my M.O.), Troy lives out the principle he speaks of here by consistently feasting and enjoying the Lord, and the boys have one by one curiously desired to taste and see for themselves.)
We make discipline a constant conversation. There are times we need to talk to our children, but we need to spend far more time talking with them. When conversation is normal, then you have a ready ear for instruction. Enrich the conversation with good family devotions, great books and rich activities and you will find it easier to call them to be disciplined. Talk through how the day went and how they can be better prepared for the day to come. Discipleship happens over many small everyday conversations.
One more thing: Don’t forget that discipline is needed in the physical, the intellectual and the spiritual; the first two having a direct impact on the latter. They must master their bodies (1 Cor 9:27) and their minds (2 Cor 10:5) and both have to do with their spiritual worship (Romans 12:1-2).
How do you find balance with kids, life, ministry, etc?
In a little over a decade Ruth and I planted a church, started a school, started a business and had six sons. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I can say that God provided all we needed. There are seasons of hustle where you decide to work the longer hours in order to get stuff off the ground, but you have to be working toward stability and a reasonable schedule. You can’t always be in start up mode. One of the keys for Ruth and me in those seasons of hustle was to just do as much as we could together as a family. Sometimes it is easier to divide and conquer chores, errands and even ministry things, but the conversations that happen while doing things together are well worth the effort.
A good thing to keep in mind -- in ministry and marriage -- is that our marriages are a picture of the gospel. (See Ephesians 5:22-33) If our marriage isn’t strong, our ministry will not be strong and our parenting will suffer. Fellowship with God, forgiveness, grace -- these are to be on display in our marriages. Keep first things first and let the Lord provide the strength and resources you need to keep up.
(Ruth and I shared more on this topic on this Pairadocs Podcast.)
How do you get family devotions started?
It doesn't seem like doing family devotions should be so difficult, but it is. To begin with, there is the frenetic pace that we tend to live at. There is always so much to do and family devotions can easily take the back seat. Then, when we do manage to sit down, every conceivable issue rises all at once (fussy children, falling off of chairs, spilled water, urgent phone calls). I honestly think the enemy has something to do with it sometimes. For us the best time is after a meal, usually breakfast though sometimes dinner. We are already at the table, so asking everyone to stay is easier than asking everyone to stop what they are doing to come do devotions.
Though I want them to be able to sit and listen to whatever I share with them for as long as I feel I need to take, I do consider their frame. Our devotions are shorter than I would choose for our older boys and right at the limit of attention spans for the littles (our kids span ages of 4 to 15.) The key is to plant seeds and capture their attention for just a little while. Then, as you go through the day, keep the word always before them. (One reason why we created the Resolutions.) Talk about what was learned throughout the day...during teachable moments. Then, when there's need to discipline foolish behavior you have a reference point and a conversation that has already begun. I wrote about our Family Devotions previously here on Ruth's blog.)
We are a work in progress over here at the Simons household. So much of what I've shared here today has been formed over the last 15 years of fatherhood. Stand firm on the word of God, parents. And dads...lean hard upon the anchor that is our hope in Christ. We have no other means for faithful investing or fruitful good works. Christ is all --all we and our kids truly need.
Grace and peace,