Just for Dads ~ November 2023

by Ward Williams
Executive director, Vineyard Family Services


One of my main goals in college was to bench press 400 pounds and to be able to flex in a mirror and watch my chest bounce around. This goal was achieved by countless hours of hard work and dedication, but it was a stupid goal to dedicate my time to. I spent many years in ministry working with teenage boys and asking for their prayer requests. Most of the vocalized prayer requests were immature, self-absorbed, and intentionally juvenile, and I was not going to pray for those requests. In the Bible, Solomon had the opportunity to indulge himself with any desire available to man during his life, and yet he said it was all meaningless. During the past 30 years, I have worked with families and teenagers in some capacity and have continually researched ways to understand and effectively advocate for their well-being. I am currently fully convinced that the goals, ambitions, and desires that our families, institutions, and churches set are shortsighted and not designed for long-term success.

Here are three very important examples to consider. More than 50 percent of teenagers leave the church when they leave their parents’ home. More than 50 percent of those who answer a call to be saved in a church service leave the church. The goal that many parents have is for their children to be involved in church and saved from hell by saying a prayer of salvation. We must change this goal to wanting our children to become disciples and lifelong followers of our faith.

As parents, we spend an enormous amount of time focused on where our kids are going to college. We have giant reveals and celebrations when they are accepted and commit to their desired schools. Current statistics say that more than 50 percent of university students drop out or don’t return to the same university where they started. We should spend as much time making sure we pick a school where students will finish, ready to enter adulthood with some capacity and resilience, as we do celebrating their acceptance into a school.

The average cost of a wedding in Alabama was $22,000 in 2022. The wedding day is dreamed about for years and is considered one of the most significant days in a family’s life. We know that more than 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. We should be spending our time and energy helping prepare our children for a lifetime of marriage, not a one-day event.

It is easier to say a prayer than to be deeply committed to a faith. It is easier to get accepted into a university than it is to graduate and start a career. It is easier to get married than to have a healthy, committed, lifelong marriage. I pray we have the wisdom to guide and direct our kids to prioritize what matters, especially when it comes to faith, family, and important relationships.

Ward Williams is the founder and executive director of Vineyard Family Services. Contact him at ward@vfsdads.com.


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