Dads on the Receiving End of a Wedgie

It's always interesting when God uses a commercial to inspire a blog post. Have you seen this Volkswagen ad? If you haven't, you need to. I think it's Super Bowl Sunday caliber material...

You can also see it on YouTube here: Volkswagen Passat Commercial: Toss

Here's a news flash for every person who knows me well: I am not an athlete. While I can enjoy a friendly game of basketball or volleyball, sports are not my forte. I grew up usually being picked last in gym. I got the rare privilege of being picked second-to-last on those days when Richard Feinstein, who had a chronic lung disorder, came to school.

The net result is that when wedgies were being handed out in the locker room, I was more likely to be on the receiving end than the giving end. (Ha! I said "end!") It wasn't a regular occurrence, but I have at least one memory of the experience, dished out by a couple of friends who thought it was funny.

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Thankfully, I got through middle and high school with my self-worth intact (praise Jesus...literally) and was able to enter adulthood without too many emotional scars. While my lack of sports ability may have stunted my social development by a few months, I know now that it ultimately doesn't matter. More important, there are lessons my parents taught me back then that matter now far more than my ability to do well on a men's softball team.

Here's something that the commercial above reminds me of that every dad needs to remember: "There are way more important things than teaching your kids to excel at sports." While there's nothing more sentimental and beautiful than a father and son playing catch, it is still just that: a game. If a father's greatest contribution to his son or daughter's growth is athletic skill, than he has put his efforts into something that ultimately doesn't matter.

Years ago, I did a survey of a bunch of teenagers, asking them what their parents' passion was. My theory was that a parent's passion would be the most clear life lessons that their kids would get. One student replied that "My father's passion is my football career. He never misses one of my games." While I appreciate this father's interest in his son's sports life, I wonder if the dad worked hard to teach life lessons, as well. Yes, he made sure his son stayed focused on physical discipline, but did he encourage his son to be spiritually disciplined? To see his worth in Christ beyond his success on the field?

So back to the lesson from the commercial: even if you're a terrible athlete, you can still be a great dad. You have so much to give, so much to teach, so much to invest in the next generation. The great thing is that when you deliberately plant seeds of faith and a Christ-centered worldview in your kids, you eventually get to see the fruit down the road.

A few days ago, I got to sit on my couch beside my 20 year old daughter and son-in-law, staring in wonder at my grandson as he shifted, moved, and danced just beneath Lindsey's belly. (He's due to arrive in about 2 months.) I got a little misty-eyed as I told them that nothing could make me more proud or blessed than to see my children walking in obedience to God, and preparing to raise a child to do the same. Sniff, sniff.

Dads, even if you throw a ball like a girl...even if you were the guy on the receiving end of the wedgies in middle school, you have so much to give your kids. Lead them well with biblical wisdom as your guide. Love them unconditionally, showing and telling them every day how much you value them. Model for them the Spirit-filled life that makes every day an adventure. This is what imperfect and normal dads like us do for our kids. When we do, that's when our perfect and extraordinary God shows up and does something incredible.