Things I'm Glad I Did As a Dad


Although there are plenty of things that Pastor Tim Harlow would have done differently, there are some things he'd do all over again, especially as it relates to his family.

My daughter turned 30 last week. That is a senior moment kick in the pants. You know that my next statement is going to be “it doesn’t seem possible.”  This is true. Time does fly – blah, blah, blah. There is nothing I can tell you that will change any of that. One day you wake up with three grandchildren, and you need rotator cuff surgery. Deal with it.

What I can do is reflect for a moment this morning and give you some advice. There are plenty of things I would do differently if I found myself back at the beginning.  But that’s another subject. Let me tell you what I’d do again.

1. Love Jesus and His bride – The Church.

I taught my kids to love Jesus, and now He is the rock of their lives. (Proverbs 22:6) And when I look back at the pictures and videos, it seems like every friend was a church friend. The church was just part of their world.

Church involvement is declining rapidly in the U.S. In the same way that social media is affecting “friendship,” and the online marketplace is replacing banks and big-box stores, the church is experiencing a shift as well. We are all trying to navigate this, but I will never regret packing my kids in the car to take them over to play with friends who shared their spiritual values.

Bill Brown, our executive pastor, was just telling me about his son’s prom and how almost all their “group” was from our church. That’s the way it was for us. How does that happen? Well, maybe you’ll get lucky and your kids will just connect with other believers’ kids, but my advice to you is to help them make that connection! Get them to your church’s kids or student ministries. Make it a priority.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9

2. Manage money well.

We didn’t really have as much of a choice back in the day, but we did a good job making sure we were saving for the future and not spending more than we had. We didn’t abuse credit, and taught our kids the same principles.

I recently thanked Dave Ramsey for Financial Peace University, because all my kids were graduates. It’s more of a relief to know my kids aren’t going to drown in debt than it is to know that I’m not. But the truth is, nothing in FPU was new to my kids. It was reinforcement.

I know we could have done better; we have made some dumb choices. But I can tell you that I have zero regrets about not buying something on credit. And I’m very glad that we didn’t give them everything they wanted (that’s what grandchildren are for!)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10

3. Chill about your career.

There are plenty of things that are different in my life as a pastor. But it’s still a job/career just like yours. And the truth is, mine wasn’t all that “successful” in the early years. I didn’t choose that – I just sucked – but I’m glad it happened.

When my kids were young, there wasn’t much I could do to “advance my career.”  I wasn’t asked to speak or lead on other boards, or in other organizations. I just stayed home and did my job. I know that the temptation for a bigger platform would have been hard for me to ignore – I could have even justified it with “Kingdom of God” language. So, God made sure I didn’t have to.

You might have to do that work on your own. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work hard at your job and take a promotion that might come your way. You should just weigh the decision based on how it affects your family. You will work for a lot longer than you will have young kids. Everything you agree to do will take you away from something else. Every yes is a no! Trust me, when your kids are 30 you will not look back and wish that you had given more to your career. Even if it would have meant more money. Your kids would rather have more of you and less of cars/houses/things.

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