A Simple Formula

A Simple Formula

formulaA Simple Formula
Tim O’Connor, God Squad

I’ve been blessed over the past ten years to be part of the God Squad.  And the blessings have extended to my family in ways that I never would have predicted.  So I want to share part of this journey, and the special lesson it has had for me as a husband and father.

My first God Squad Men’s Conference was back in 2000 at the Red and White Club (at that time labeled “St Joseph’s Covenant Keepers Conference”).  I was absolutely ‘blown away’ by the experience of seeing so many faithful Christian men gathered together for fellowship and common purpose.  It was such a contrast to my ‘normal’, secular life, and it seemed to be an event so badly needed for men just like me.

Around the same time I was thinking about my young family and fretting about how I was ever going to be a good spiritual leader for them.  It’s easy to be discouraged and feel inadequate – just turn on the television, computer or any form of media and you’ll see that non-Christian values take the main stage.  And my family was being exposed to these mediums constantly – how was I going to lead them through this deluge of negative influences?

Shortly after the 2000 conference, I contacted Sean Lynn and volunteered to help out the God Squad with whatever they needed.  From that point forward my role with the organization has grown along with my friendships with the other organizers and their families.

I also picked up one of Steve Wood’s books at the conference.  I was encouraged by, and still remember vividly, an early paragraph from his book, “Legacy: A Father’s Handbook for Raising Godly Children”:

Practice your faith and remain in a state of grace; love your wife and stay married;  be a good provider and tithe; and spend lots of time with your children.  That’s how to be a good Christian man, husband and dad in a single sentence.  Not too complicated.

I agreed – not too complicated.  And I’m a huge believer in the keep-it-simple principle, so this sentence really resonated for me.

Of course there is an important and profound component to this statement that might not be initially obvious.  Namely, that it’s really the Holy Spirit that is doing all the hard work with our families, all the ‘heavy lifting’.  We just need to help make sure our hearts and homes are open to Him.

But I want to add one other element to Steve’s simple formula, one that I’ve come to realize since attending that first conference: Choose carefully who you spend time with  and surround yourself with other faithful, Christian families.

I’ve been blessed to have had this opportunity over the past ten years.  Through my close group of friends and an association with the other God Squad organizers and their families, my children have been exposed to exceptional young people who are living their faith.  Those of you who are parents know that peer pressure can be a big influence for our children, especially teens, and often it’s the voice of the peer that is louder than the voice of the parent.  So taking an early, proactive step towards who those peers are can be very powerful.

Through my association with other strong, Catholic families, my family and I have grown in our spiritual lives.  We’ve attended Catholic family conferences, read Christian books, installed internet filters, had priests and God Squad Conference speakers to our home, studied through DVD courses as a family and spent many hours talking and learning together about our faith and spiritual life.  Ten years ago I never would have predicted any of this, nor can I take much credit for it.  But what I do know is that by associating with the right people my role as a husband and father is much better and easier.

So for me the formula is still simple: live the faith, love your wife, be a provider, spend time with your kids, and hang out with the right people.  Then stand back and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.