We’re always looking for growth as a dad, as humans really. In fact, growing as a man, as a dad, and as a person should be our aim every day. Wholistic growth is what’s required if we are to lead and serve our families well. But the question is, what is wholistic growth? And, to double down, how should we grow? Are there specific things we should look for when it comes to being better?
As a Christian, we have a specific model we’ve been given to grow. But, maybe you’re not a Christian, can you still use this model to better yourself? Yes! In Luke’s Gospel account we read this passage, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). In that passage the blueprint for wholistic growth is shown, The complete person grows as we develop in four areas: physical growth (stature), intellectual growth (wisdom), social growth (favor with man), and spiritual growth (favor with God). These are the four buckets that we continue to build content for Uncultured Dad upon.
What is Wholistic growth?
When we speak of wholistic growth, we’re not talking about some mamby-pamby, kumbaya-type growth. We’re speaking in terms of the whole person. In fact, it’s really the only way to grow. The United States Army has even adopted doctrine—albeit in five buckets—that promote wholistic growth as readiness for soldiers. We want to grow as people and as dads, and the best way to do that is to grow the whole person. That means growing physically, intellectually, socially, and spiritually.
It may seem obvious, but must be said: you have to take care of yourself physically. We all want to be around for the long run, being able to roll around on the floor with our kids, but Father Time is undefeated. But even if Father Time cannot be thwarted, we can slow him down a bit.
As busy dads, it’s really hard to find time for physical activity. But, it should be something we make a priority. We think that finding a way to get active, will help to keep you stay present and active with your kids. The key is to find something that you enjoy and be consistent at it. We’re not talking of tossing iron for hours on end a day, but something–anything–to get active and stay healthy.
Intellectual growth may be as difficult as physical growth because of the time that they take. But whatever we value we will invest our time in. But we have to grow mentally as we continue to hold influence over our families. Intellectual growth means growing in wisdom, just as Solomon directed his son, “…treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding” (Proverbs 2:1-2). Gaining wisdom, and adhering to it, is the only way that we can influence our families well.
What’s this mean? READ A BOOK! Find a way to carve out some time each day to read. But, it is also important that we don’t just read books that speak to what we agree with only, creating an echo chamber of sorts. The purpose of developing wisdom means learning how to converse, rather than contend, and form our own thoughts. There’s a great resource to track what you read too, it’s called GoodReads, which even allows you to set a yearly reading goal.
You may cringe at the thought of social interaction, which is completely understood. But social relationships are important as dads. We cannot hole up in our homes each and every day as a hermit that only comes out for sunlight like a whale that breeches for air. How will our kids ever learn to interact with their fellow man if they never see us in social settings?
In fact, if we really boil it down, our ability to treat our peers with respect and “love them as ourselves” is part of the command we’ve been given by Jesus. In our house, it’s constant conversations about kindness, and kindness for everyone. We remind our kindergartner before each day, “Do your best; be kind.” By growing socially we can grow in favor with our fellow man, in the same pattern in which Jesus grew wholistically.
Finally, the crux of the entire wholistic growth. Growing spiritually. We have to spend time with our Creator each day in prayer and bible study. The spiritual influence we have over our families is our greatest responsibility and must be taken seriously. The job of discipling our families is our foremost duty given to us by God.
Seek God daily. Let His word wash over you and renew you as you take on the day’s responsibilities. Then, as you grow, disciple your family. Psalm 119 is one of the greatest chapters in the Bible speaking to the importance of God’s word in our lives. The Psalmist writes, “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart…Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!” (Psalm 119:33-34, 40). If we are to grow wholistically then we have to grow spiritually.
Wholistic growth is not easy, but it is necessary to lead our families well. It takes work, but that’s what we were made for. So get to following the model of Jesus’ wholistic growth and let it make you a better man, dad, and Christian. It will be worth it, guaranteed.