The difference between forgettable vacations and unforgettable vacations is not the location or attractions. Nope. The difference is the father’s attitude and leadership. To succeed, a father must be diligent to serve and lead. As you plan your summer vacation, I thought it might be helpful if I passed along some lessons I’ve learned over the years. My hope is that your family will enjoy a God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making time together.

So enjoy your vacation . . . and you can rest when you get home.

1. A Servant’s Heart

Are you ever really on vacation? Now is your opportunity to serve. This isn’t your time to rest. Husbands may actually need to work harder—in some ways—than they do during their normal work. But this kind of work is a pure joy.

2. A Tone-Setting Attitude

Children may be temporarily distracted by the venue, but ultimately their memory will be associated with your joy, gratefulness, generosity, and service, or with your irritation, frustration, and anger. Dad, no one should be happier on vacation than you are. Your children should repeatedly observe you smiling and laughing, and throughout the vacation they should be the objects of your affection and appreciation.

3. Awareness of Indwelling Sin

Don’t forget about indwelling sin. Anticipate how and where you will be tempted, and prepare now.

4. Studying Your Family

I love doing stuff! Though it has been a number of years, I vividly remember one particular vacation when my wife wisely asked if it would be possible to rest at some point during the vacation. Though I was perplexed why anyone would want to rest on vacation, I listened. Meet with your family prior to vacation and find out what they would like to do. You may not do all you want to do, but you will be serving your family.

5. Skillful Surprises

Create a tradition of surprising your family. I love to surprise my family, and I want surprises to be a part of the family vacation. Study each member of your family to discover what a meaningful and memorable surprise would involve. A well-planned surprise communicates your deep affection for them—the memories will be treasured.

6. Intentionally Together

Family vacations are family vacations! They should center on deepening relationships, conversing, laughing, and encouraging each other. Prepare your children for a family vacation, and adjust expectations accordingly. This protects the vacation from merely becoming a pretext for selfishly pursuing personal preferences.

7. Gratefulness to God

Vacations are a gift from God. Help your family see God’s kindness and generosity each day. Dad, it is your privilege and responsibility to model gratefulness during vacations.

C. J. Mahaney is president of Sovereign Grace Ministries and has nearly 30 years of experience as a senior pastor. The author of numerous books, C. J. serves on the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and regularly contributes articles to the Sovereign Grace blog at www.sovereigngraceministries.org/Blog.

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