The flamboyant Colombian national soccer team’s goalkeeper, René Higuita, was renowned for his on-field eccentricities, especially coming way out of his goals. He would dribble the ball as far as the center of the field at times, leaving his nervousdefenders to keep their goals without the benefit of a pair of hands. He is even credited with scoring 8 goals in 68 matches. Did I mention he’s the goalkeeper? His nickname was “El Loco”— the madman. The concern was that his flaunting of the conventions of his position would eventually lead to disaster.
Sure enough, in the 1990 World Cup final 16 game against Cameroon, Higuita was near the half-way line when an opposing striker stole the ball from him and took it all they way to score a winning goal in a keeperless net, costing Colombia their shot at the World Cup title. In a country that takes soccer seriously, and whose economy is sustained by caffeine and narcotics, you have a recipe for over the top reprisal. Players have literally been assassinated for their errors. Higuita described that moment as “a mistake as big as a house.” He never played a World Cup game again.
Christians are known for taking family seriously. But when the key players are misplaced out of their assigned position, does anyone do anything about it? I’m not suggesting assassination, but some sort of confrontation would certainly be appropriate.
When was the last time you heard of a church discipline process being pursued because a Dad in the church was spending too little time with his family? We tend to take sins with immediate effects more seriously, but absentee dad-ism has long-term results. When the kids “go off the rails” in their late teens, the church commiserates with the weepy parents.
That’s not the time and place to lash the Dad for years of sowing what he is now reaping. That time is 18 years before when the baby comes home with an aroma of an interesting blend of baby powder and dirty diaper. It is a series of tiny decision Dad makes starting with phrases like “That’s woman’s work” or “I’ve got work to do, and don’t have paternity leave.” Its patterns and habits that form character that cannot be changed overnight.
Sometimes when a dad sits in my office crying about his teen’s latest debacle, asking me for a biblical solution, I have to resist the temptation to recommend a DeLorean with a flux capacitor. For those of you who missed the 80’s for some reason, the car Michael J. Fox used to go back in time before needing to come “Back to the Future,” was a DeLorean with the time warping flux capacitor. Going back 18 years and starting over is sometimes the only obvious solution. The second best is to repent and start doing the right thing now. Often that option proves equally insurmountable.
When Dad has made a mistake as big as a house, there is hope: repentance.
So what does repentance look like? It’s not about techniques to be learned like a series of spiritual Karate chokeholds. It’s a character that needs to be forged in the furnace of godly living day in and day out. Men tend to want to fix things (except the light in the refrigerator). They want a honey-do list. Tell me how to be a great Dad and I’ll schedule it on Google calendar and get it done.
But the solution is that Dad needs to become what God wants him to be, not just do what he needs to do. For this manual overhaul of your soul, you need to go back to the Bible and start from scratch. Reformat the hard drive of your social norms and reinstall the new operating system, found only in Gods word.
When God built society, he used the family as the building block. The foundation as laid with the creation of the man. To understand God’s original design, helps you to understand who you are in the family, society, and the kingdom of God. This will help you become what you are.
[This is an excerpt from a book about family Clint is working on. For the audio sermon based on this chapter, click here.]