Our family has been trying to get into a rhythm of practicing Sabbath on Saturdays. We usually start this rest-filled day by cooking a giant batch of pancakes and enjoying a long breakfast together. The kids sit down at the table to color, while Leila and I work on getting the pancakes ready. We ask Alexa to blast some worship music throughout the house, and sometimes the kitchen turns into a dance floor, where I usually look like a fool and the kids laugh at my terrible dance moves.
A few weeks ago, we slowly rolled out of bed and began our normal Sabbath routine. We cooked an obnoxious number of pancakes and all sat down, prepared to eat. Then we realized something terrible had happened.
We were out of syrup.
Nothing is worse than trying to eat pancakes without syrup. It's like trying to eat cereal without milk. Or pizza without ranch. It's just not the way God intended things to be.
Fortunately, we live about 35 seconds away from Target. So, Leila volunteered to quickly run to the store and rescue us from our breakfast catastrophe. The kids and I waited patiently at the table while she headed out.
Five minutes went by. And then 10. And then 30.
The pancakes turned cold, and the kids were beyond restless. I decided to call Leila to see what was going on.
"Hey, babe, everything okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, sorry. I've been standing in the syrup aisle trying to decide which one is best for our kids. There are so many options. I don't want to pick the wrong one!" She was almost in a panic.
"Um, babe. Just grab one. Any one. We're starving over here."
My wife suffers from what I call "analysis paralysis." If she is presented with too many options, she freezes and can't seem to decide. She's convinced that if she doesn't know everything about everything, she may end up making the wrong decision, even about something as trivial as pancake syrup. Analysis paralysis is the inability to move forward or make a decision without first feeling like you have all the information. Of course, it's not so much a condition as it is something we laugh at. Well, at least most of the time. Waiting 30 minutes to put syrup on your pancakes is no laughing matter.
When it comes to the spiritual leadership of their homes, a lot of guys also suffer from analysis paralysis. The options of what they should be doing can feel overwhelming and cause them to freeze. Instead of stumbling their way forward, they don't do anything at all.
What devotional do I choose?
What podcasts should I listen to?
Do I even know the Bible well enough to teach my kids?
What do I do if they don't sit quietly while I'm trying to teach them?
What if they can tell I don't really know what I'm talking about?
Are we supposed to listen to K-LOVE every day?
What's the right way to pray with my kids?
And the list goes on.
Many guys think that if they move too quickly, without first analyzing all the options, they will make a mistake. And here's the truth--you probably will.
Leila could have spent years in that syrup aisle, gathering all the information she could, and still have picked the "wrong one." But we didn't need the perfect syrup. We simply needed something to dip our pancakes into while we enjoyed breakfast together as a family.
Despite your best efforts and all your research, there will always be more to learn. Because the crazy thing about God is that the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know. Studying God's Word doesn't lead to all the answers; usually it brings up more questions.
Here's one thing I've learned from watching great spiritual leaders who have gone before me: They don't overthink it. They simply read the Bible and do what it says. They aren't perfect dads or the best theologians, but they are stumbling their way forward. They are making mistakes, learning from them, and moving on.
Your family doesn't need the perfect spiritual leader, but they do need someone who will lead them toward Jesus. You can spend your whole life trying to gather more information about being the perfect spiritual leader of your home while your family is sitting at the table, starving. Grab the syrup—any syrup—run home, and start digging in.
The Dad Tired movement offers a range of resources to help men embrace their responsibilities as spiritual leaders, drawing young husbands and fathers from all walks of life into a vital community of encouragement and intentionality. A sought-after speaker at men's ministry events around the country, Lopes is the author of Fully Engaged: 10 Practical Ways To Point Your Family Toward Jesus
and Dad Tired and Loving It: Stumbling Your Way to Spiritual Leadership
(Harvest House, Sept. 3). He and his wife Leila live in Portland, Oregon, with their three children. For further information, visit dadtired.com