North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

Six years before I ran my first of twenty-eight marathons my father completed his first and only marathon. He had always been the one man I could always trust and always depend on to give me good, sound advice. My father wasn’t perfect and he never claimed to be, but he has been for me a biblical ideal for fatherhood. From his successes and missteps he gained wisdom and passed it on to me.
In 1986, my father was competing in the Blue Angel Marathon on board Pensacola NAS. I was a teenager in high school and we were driving along the course meeting him at different check points throughout the course. As with most runners, he started to tire in the later miles. I had my running shoes on and decided to jump out and run alongside him to give him motivation and support. With a small bag of orange slices I joined him at mile 18. For the next seven miles I did what I could to help him stay motivated. At mile 25 I got back in the car my mother was driving and we made it just in time to see him cross the finish line. He told me later that my running with him had helped him finish the race when he didn’t think he was going to do it. I took great pride in knowing that I had helped my father, whom I admired and received guidance during my young life. My Dad did more than finish a marathon that day. He taught me some important things about life. As I ran alongside him with fresh, young legs, I saw firsthand what it meant to push yourself beyond what you think you can do. He didn’t quit and he taught me how to manage adversity, keep moving forward, and how to use available resources to accomplish the goal. All of these things, in one event had given me a strategy I used throughout my marathon racing career. My Dad ran only one marathon, but a part of him ran all 28 of mine with me.
Two principles to glean from this true story: even as a youth we can help our parents or other adults achieve success and secondly, as adults we have a responsibility to teach our young people positive lessons about life. These two principles remind me of familiar Scripture references. I Timothy 4:12 says “Let know one look down upon you because you are young. Show others how to live by your life. Show them how to live in faith and in love and in holy living”. Instructions for parents can be found in Proverbs 22:6 where it says, “Train up a child by teaching them the way they should go, and when they are older they will remember it”. The longer you live, the more your experiences can be converted into wisdom. Wisdom is more than knowledge. Wisdom is knowledge and experience applied to life. Wisdom comes not just from what you read and know, but from how one applies the truth of God in everyday life.
The challenge can be getting the attention of your children so they will sit long enough to listen to your instructions. The surest way to do this is to develop a deep relationship of trust that takes years of relating to each other. It begins the moment they enter the world. And it doesn’t mean you have to give them everything in the world that they want. You live biblically and love your kids from the heart. Perfection isn’t the answer, although consistency in the totality of your life is the ideal. A consistent reliance upon God and faith will get your kids attention.
I meet people who ask me, “What if I’ve made a mess of my life? How can I gain my kids respect?” Maybe you’ve only recently turned to faith and want to prove to your kids you’re a changed person. I would suggest you be “transparent parent.” Reveal the truth to them. Reveal what is appropriate based on their age level and in time help them understand what you’ve come to realize was the underlying issues behind your actions. Apologize to your kids, confess what needs to be said, and demonstrate by consistent behavior that you’re sorry for your wrongs and that you seriously love them. Kids, deep in their hearts want to love their parents. And doing these things will help build credibility with them. It’s a process that takes a lot of prayer and patience.
Your kids can learn from your successes and your failures. Don’t let shame over past failures result in inaction. God will help you as you seek Him first. God, in all His power, is able to make up for your mistakes and shortcomings. Pass on to your kids the lessons of life they need to hear and never discount that they may be able to help you too.
• This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves Chaplain Corp. He can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Feb 2 2014. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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