Have I ever told you my dad was a work-a-holic? He grew up poor, on a farm in Idaho. His childhood home held five people, his mom and dad, his brother , sister, and him. It spanned a space of approximately 20 feet by 10 feet. That’s the whole house, not a room.
Because of this upbringing, he desperately desired money. He trained for a job he didn’t like because it could garner him some good cash flow. Then, he worked like a dog to save up and invest and create wealth. He was smart and capable. He had an inner drive to succeed. I’m sure the self-help gurus of today would put him on a pedestal.
He became a plumber and brought in the cash. He partnered with other hard working professionals and bought property in northern California. As a child, I’d visit him at his mobile home park, or one of his apartment complexes. To him, “rest” was a four letter word.
I remember a few rest-filled moments, but not many. There was always more money to make, more work to do. In order to have what people called “quality” time, I watched the stock market with him, ticker tape and all. Our time together included cleaning the pool at one of his apartments or me rolling his cigarettes.
Then, it ended. When I was ten, my dad died in a car accident. I receive an inheritance as a result of his hard working endeavors. He left me and my brother money. It enabled us to go on trips and buy cars. Sounds great right?
It’s the American dream. Work hard to get as much as you can and spend it.
But, I’ll be honest with you. I’d rather be living in the same type home he grew up in, if I could have my dad back and he’d be fully committed to spending time with us and getting to know us.
We think “quality” time makes up for time lost, but it doesn’t. With our spouse, our kids, our parents and anyone we value, our presence in their lives contains far more worth than any number of presents we give.
Is money tight these days? Do you find yourself saddened by how many presents you will or won’t be able to put under the tree? If you can be present and give of yourself, as time passes, it’ll mean much more than any other gift you could buy.
King David had a ton of money, but he went off and fought war after war after war for Israel, and his sons rarely saw him, except Solomon. As a result, they had no real relationship with their father. Ultimately, they wanted more and more and even attempted to take the kingdom from him. This brought great sorrow to David’s heart. He was a great king and he loved God, but his fathering skills lacked strength.
Even if our children are begging for the latest and greatest toy, as parents, we know what happens. They get it and for a couple of months they love it. Then, the toy looses it’s attraction, and they want another latest, greatest thing. Instead of giving more presents, what if we decided to give them more of our presence in their lives. (And watching T.V. side by side doesn’t count, they could do that with the family dog.)
Our presence in their lives means conversation. We ask questions, they ask questions. We actively do things together: hard things and fun things. It takes effort and energy, but it’ll pay off bigger dividends than any stock on the market.
Give my kids more of me and less stuff.