I  remember watching the movie starring the late Richard Pryor, The Toy, where he helps a wealthy man understand that his son doesn’t need toys; he needs his dad.
I heard another story of a man who took his ten-year-old son fishing. He had carved out the day from his never-ending schedule. They caught nothing. He wrote later in his journal, “Spent the day on the lake fishing.  Caught nothing. Wasted day.”
Some time later, he spotted his son’s journal beside his bedside. Out of curiosity, he opened it and began to read.  He found the day of the fishing trip. It read, “Went fishing with my dad today. We didn’t catch anything. Greatest day ever.”
Parents will often judge their children based on the looks they give. An ugly face, a rolling of the eyes, a clicking of the tongue all speak to us that our kids just don’t want to be where we are. But I have found that they ultimately love the time we make for them.
The movies methodically paint this picture such as National Lampoon’s Vacation series and Robin Williams’ “RV” where the kids are up in arms at the beginning.  They don’t want to leave their friends. They dread being away from their video games.
But by the end of the movie, they are laughing together and huddling up to cut through some crisis as a team. At the risk of sounding sappy, I’m a believer!  I believe in this fairy tale of a reality! Call me naïve.
Tell me to take my rose-colored glasses off, but I’m sticking to my guns. I believe our kids really long to have our attention, no matter how hardcore their teen years seem to make them.
I heard some hard-to-swallow advice from a family counselor as I was doing a little research.
A question came in to Dr. Tim Kimmel, the founder of familymatters.net, to which he gave a stern answer that rocked my world.
The question: My husband and I work very hard to provide for our family but this oftentimes leaves us very tired when we get home. It’s tough to give our children the attention they need. What can we do?
His answer started out sympathetic but then he dropped the bomb.  He said that you do your best to get the sleep you need when you sleep, organize your time as best as you can, cut out the fluff that gets in the way of spending time with your kids – remove the distractions – and, ultimately, roll up your sleeves, man up/woman up, and realize that you brought this child into the world or agreed to raise him/her. It’s your responsibility. Now do the right thing.
King David, in the Bible, was pretty much a failure as a father.  But late in his life, he finally got his act together and quit putting his job ahead of his kids.  He really took Solomon, his son who would succeed him on the throne, under his wing and spent considerable time with him.  I love this verse from David’s story.

1 Chronicles 16:43
New Living
Translation (NLT)
43 Then all the people returned to their homes, and David turned and went home to bless his own family.
I encourage you to know when to unplug from work and engage your children.  One of my challenges as a pastor is, when I’m with my family, to truly be present with them.  My wife has had to say to me too many times, “You’re here but you’re not here.”  I have talked to dads who feel that they’re giving their kids the best thing they can by working all of the overtime possible, and I know our local companies will give it.  College is important.  Food and clothing are important.  That job is imperative.  The Bible says that a man who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an infidel.  But a balance is in order.  What good does all that do if we lose our children in the process?  Think about it.
The president of Moody Bible Institute looked up one day in his office and said, “Next.”  His secretary ushered in his next appointment.  He was surprised to see his 16 year-old daughter walk in and sit down.  He said, “What are you doing here?”  Her response was, “It’s the only way I could get any of your time.”  I have decided that I will not learn this lesson the hard way.  Pride yourself in being stubborn and learning lessons that way if you want, but I’m kicking stubbornness to the curb on this one.  Time is precious and hard to come by, which is why it’s the most valuable gift you could ever give your family.  Mom, Dad, let’s make it happen.  Give the gift of time.

Kevin Herrin is the pastor at The Fellowship of Texas City. Contact him at kevinherrin@thefellowshiptc.com.

Leadership letter

Herrin, Kevin

General Douglas MacArthur said: “Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.”
I would be lying if I told you I’ve never fallen prey to the age-old parental temptation to resort to the all-too-easy proclamation “Because I said so!” It’s just so easy. It’s the mindless get-out-of-my-hair-so-I-don’t-have-to-think kind of answer.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying it should never be used. It is the CEO weapon in the parenting arsenal. But I do believe that, if we resort to it too often, it loses its effectiveness and causes our children to both lose respect for us and resent us.
Parenting Principle 3:
Major on principle, minor on rules
Various Christian denominations teach rules but do not take the time for teaching the spirit behind the rules or the reasons for which they were originally created.
When I was a teenager,
I would go to church youth conferences where all the girls and boys honored a set of outward, religious dress or behavioral standards but had no idea why they held them. Because they didn’t understand the principles behind the rules, they were merely going through the motions.
For many, their hearts weren’t in it, even though they looked the part on the outside. I remember a large group of my peers who would skip church during the conference to host under-age drinking parties in the hotel rooms. There were other things but we’ll stop there.
This was, of course, against the rules of the movement, yet my friends blew through them like paper. When they saw holes in the proverbial fence, they had no moral principles in their hearts to keep them from straying from the fold and falling into the mouths of sheep-eating wolves.
Many of them are spiritual casualties to this day. Rules with no teaching, no revelation, no inspiration, simply do not work.
As I’ve said before, balance is key. Some parents lay out rules for everything in an attempt to protect their kids from any harm or mistakes and create confused children with rebellion in their hearts. Others err on the side of liberality bordering on relativism where there are no lines, no absolutes.
This creates another kind of confusion where children have to just make their own way, muddling through life learning every lesson the hard way. It’s a life of pretty intense pain and self-destruction. I’ve even seen feelings of abandonment attached to it. There’s a happy medium.
I encourage parents to teach principles and then let your kids feel the responsibility of right actions. Give them enough guidelines to create a solid structure in which to navigate, then let them work their way through it with the truths you’ve imparted to their hearts and minds. And I believe there are no greater truths than those from the Bible.
During my seminary days, it was popular for guys in the dorm to sneak out after curfew because they knew that our dorm supervisor loved a good chase. He was a stickler for the rules and kept his flashlight handy, ready to grab it at a moment’s notice and hunt down the strays in the dark. It was a game for the students, although much more serious for the dorm master.
In our senior year, however, we arrived to face a new master. The very first night, he called us into the dorm hallway and said: “Sit down, men. My name is Cooper. I am your new dorm supervisor. I do not chase students.
“When the curfew clock strikes midnight, you be in your room for roll call. Once I establish your presence, what you do after that is between you and God. You’re supposed to be here to pursue a call to ministry and embrace a destiny that could change your world.
“If you want to throw all of that away, that’s on you, not me. I will not be chasing you. Goodnight.”
No one broke curfew that year.
Cooper invited us into maturity. Principles do that. Rules do not. Teach your children the “why” behind the “what”. If you can’t figure out why, maybe you should reevaluate the rule.
And reserve the big-dog line for those moments when you don’t have time to explain but you know in your “knower” that it’s not the right move for your child. You can explain later, but please make sure you do.

Kevin Herrin is the pastor at The Fellowship of Texas City. Contact him at kevinherrin@thefellowshiptc.com.