Last month my wife and I picked up our kids from their two-week trip in California at JH Ranch, an incredible Christian-based camp that hosts youth, parent-child, and marriage retreats. My former teammate, Tim Hudson, once recommended this camp to me and I’m so glad he did.
Last year, I was able to take my daughter to a father-daughter retreat and, having experienced how wonderful it was, we decided to sign up our kids for the ranch’s two-week high school event. And we’re so glad we did. The spiritual impact that they got out of it was priceless.
But as we flew back home and shared story after story about the previous two weeks, I was quick to tell them, “Trust me, the fire you have right now is going to burn out so much faster than you think if you’re not really careful. We’re going to get home tonight, unpack and begin to think about all the things we want to do, or have planned to do, and we’ll leave that mountain-top high behind.” My 15-year-old daughter, Montana, then chimed in to share how frustrated she’s been in the past when she leaves a Wednesday night youth group, having really been moved by something, only to experience the feeling fade away. It always does.
We live in a world controlled by Satan; there’s no getting around it. I don’t doubt that even the greatest men and women of faith struggled with this same thing. It doesn’t matter who you are or how great the experience may be, this is going to be a constant battle along the way.
Our relationship to God is very similar to a marriage — in both good ways and bad. If you asked me how my relationship with my wife is going and I responded, “It’s so great! Wednesday night we had a nice long chat over a wonderful dinner and really loved on each other,” but then you found out that we never see each other the rest of the week, what would your response be? You’d think I’m an idiot. That’s not a real relationship!
But that’s what the majority of us do with God: We show up on Sundays for a few hours, have an awesome moment, love on each other, and then plan to see Him next Sunday. It can’t work like that. Your love for your spouse has to go deeper than Wednesday night, just as your love for God has to be stronger than a Sunday morning experience. It’s a 24-hour commitment that takes work! The only difference between a marriage and your relationship with God is that He is way more forgiving and gracious than a spouse can ever be. He will never break up with us, no matter how far we stray, but He’s still asking for the same commitment.
This morning, I asked my 16-year-old son, Drake, to do something really important for me: I gave him permission to hold me accountable if he ever saw anything I was doing that he thought was unbiblical. I asked him this because, as I sat at the breakfast table and watched him pick up my phone to look for something, I was struck with the thought, “What if I was afraid of what he’d find on there? What if I had to worry about what my pictures or Google history might lead him to?” If that ever was a concern or worry, I want my kid to be able to comfortably turn to me and say, “Dad, what are you doing?” Or would he, like I would have with my own father, simply turn away and try to pretend he never saw anything.
I wanted Drake to know that in any situation, he is able to come to me and tell me I’m out of line. I would want him to do this! Call me out! Don’t sit back like a lot of kids feel they need to, not having been given permission to hold their mom or dad accountable.
“For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.” — 2 Corinthians 8:21
We don’t want our kids to think we have reached an unmatchable perfection — the same perception we often view our pastors in. There’s a reason that many very influential and powerful Christian men and women are so well-known and revered: They are brutally transparent in their books and sermons about their flaws. It’s refreshing to know that we’re on the same level they are, and it’s inspiring to watch them choose to fight through the struggles and be a light along the way.
This is the type of lasting impact and wisdom I want to teach my kids. None of us are perfect, and though we encounter incredible moments in our lives, we need to constantly cling to Christ and the truth and instruction He calls us to be rooted in.
— Adam LaRoche, former MLB player
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.