As we close out 2019 and look to 2020, we often take stock of our year; the good, the bad, and in-between. We vow to make some changes. Eat less. Hug more. Actually vacuum the coils underneath the refrigerator. Obviously, some will happen and some won't.
Something I've heard people say, and have said myself, is to volunteer somewhere. Anywhere. If this is you, let me recommend contacting Good Dads and checking to see if your neighborhood elementary school has an All Pro Dad chapter. Consider helping with the All Pro Dad chapter there . . . and if there isn't one, maybe you can start one! Maybe you have a child at the school, a grandkid, a nephew, or a neighbor. If you attend a church, maybe there’s already a relationship established with a nearby school. That's how I got started.
I didn't have any kids of my own when my church started a chapter at a school, but I jumped right in. Initially, I was just a helper, but slowly became a co-captain. (Teamwork makes the dream work.)
Now, our team is on Year 4 of meeting with kids and parents for breakfast at McGregor Elementary. We recognize many dads and kids. We know the staff at the school. We were politely asked not to give the kids candy before they go to class. You live and you learn, right?
You're probably thinking, that's great, but why should I get involved? There are so many answers to that question, but the simplest is if not you, then who?
This world moves fast. Our culture is so divisive and self-centered, that we all need to chip in. We can make a difference. Our community is like one big quilt. We can either continue to sew it together or let the edges fray. And it's too big of a job for just the government or the schools or the churches or the non-profits. We all have a role to play.
The wonderful thing about being an All Pro Dad Captain is that the barrier to entry is really low. All the material you need to get started is readily available. There is a curriculum with discussion ideas, games to play, and even videos to show if you want to use them. Moreover, our school district, Springfield Public Schools, has been very willing to help as much as possible.
What are the desired skills for a Captain, you ask?
So now you know. Being a Captain isn't daunting. The most important thing to remember is that you are a facilitator of a time for kids and their parents to just be together. And in this fast paced world, providing something so small can have a big difference.
Interested in learning more about All Pro Dad's impact in Springfield, MO? Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Good Dads Podcast to hear three local Captains explain how they got involved and why both kids and dads look forward to the time together each month.
Click here to learn more about All Pro Dad resources and chapters around the country.
Brian Mattson and his wife, Jessica, welcomed a son to their family just over a year ago, to join their 10-year-old Golden Retriever named Albus. Brian is the Director of Worship & Operations at The Downtown Church and in his free time plays and sings in a cover band (Deja Crew), enjoys walks with the family, planning the next great road trip, and quoting Seinfeld episodes.
Mark Twain once said, “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” I’m guessing Mark Twain never had three sons under the age of five.
Ah, Christmas and the American child. This season is such a mixed bag of emotions and life lessons to be learned. For twelve months of the year, we strive to teach our children that it truly is better to give than to receive, but then we come to “the most wonderful time of the year,” and the wheels on the bus of service and self-sacrifice come to a screeching stop.
It’s easy to blame the savvy marketing of large toy companies, and the endless barrage of commercials touting the wonders of the latest, hot-selling toy. But, charity really does begin at home. And beyond that, teaching our children the joy of giving begins there, as well. If the idea of our modeling the behaviors we want from our children sounds like an overused premise, so be it. What our sons and daughters see us do impact them more than we could ever know. What do they see in us when it comes to giving? Is there joy? Or, do we begrudgingly give?
Whether you are a church-goer, who believes in tithings and offerings, or a community-minded person, giving annually to your charity of choice, how happy are you about it? Do your children see you smiling as you drop the check in the plate or the coins in the Salvation Army pot? Or, do they hear you grumbling about parting with your money, or the fact that you only give for a tax write-off?
Of course, when speaking of giving, we tend to think primarily of money. But, there are so many ways for us to give and just as many ways to show our kids that it can all be joyfully done. There also are so many ways for us to give with our kids. Go, as a family, to a nursing home. Prior to going, sit around the kitchen table and make cards for the residents. Play Christmas music while you do it, eat some sugar cookies, and talk about what it must be like for those who can’t be in their own homes for the holidays. Discuss ways of making the season truly brighter for those around you.
The thing about giving, that seems to always surprise us, is that joy we personally receive from it. All of the hustling and bustling of the season becomes more than worth it when we see the delight in the face of another, and in turn, receive delight in our own hearts and lives.
May the words of Booker T. Washington live in the souls of all of us, including our children, during this season and every other day of the year: “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”
Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org