Speaking of... Life, Hope & Truth

Ruling Well

Several years ago I was helping to coordinate a camp for preteen children in several of our local congregations. At our camp there was a small lake where we taught fishing and canoeing and took nature hikes. There was also one rowboat, and since I had done more rowing than most people, I would take some of the children out for rides in the rowboat.

I especially remember one young boy—probably 6 or 7 years old—who climbed into the back of the boat and sat down; and as we pulled away from the shore, he began to talk about his father. “My daddy can row a boat. My daddy can canoe. My daddy can fish. My daddy can swim. My daddy can play softball.” After a few minutes of this, he looked at me and asked, “Do you know my daddy?” Since I did know many of the men in the area, I responded, “Well, I probably do. What’s your daddy’s name?” He looked at me with a quizzical look on his face and said, “Daddy.”

Oh. Okay. I think I do know him.

It was a funny insight into a child’s perspective, but at the same it was encouraging to realize the positive impact this young boy’s father was having on his son’s life just by being involved.

In 1 Timothy 3 the apostle Paul described characteristics needed in Church leaders and said a man needed to be “ruling his own household well.” The word translated “ruling” is not so much about authority as it is about leading by example. It refers to one who guides, protects, provides for and shows others how to do things while helping them accomplish their tasks.

William Barclay, in his Daily Study Bible, points out that the Greek word kalos, which is translated “well,” not only refers to being effective, it also refers to something that is pleasant to see. When I read this passage, I think of that young boy and his obvious admiration of his father.

As I prepared to leave home and go to college, my father said, “It’s all gone by so fast. I wish I had spent more time with you.” It wasn’t like he was uninvolved—we did many things together—working, playing, talking. But he had suddenly realized that the opportunity to teach some of the important lessons he had learned in life was over.

Life has a way of filling every moment with busyness, and it can be challenging to make sure we’re doing what is most important. But even Jesus realized that there was only so much time to do what matters when He said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.”

We moved away from the area, and I don’t know what ever became of that young boy, but as I thought of this story, I realized that he would now be in his early thirties. The chances are good that he may have a young son of his own, and the chances are also good that he is playing a positive role in his son’s life, just like his father did in his.

If you are a father, especially a young father, consider how important it is to spend time with your children, and grab every opportunity you can. It is actually one of the most essential aspects of what it means to “rule your household well,” and it influences a child’s life far more than we often realize.

For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m David Johnson.