Hello, fellow dads. Truth: You’re doing a critical, all-encompassing, sacred work. It’s also really hard. You have the weight of so many things on your shoulders. Potentially you are carrying a few (or all) of the following responsibilities: work, marriage, family, leadership, creativity, finances, planning, executing, training, investing, deciding, house chores … whew! It’s all so much. Sometimes all of it is hard to bear. Sometimes, you want to get out and let it all drop.

When I was in college, I found myself with increasing responsibilities. All of it was good … but I was being asked to lead more things, be responsible for more people, and say yes to more opportunities on top of school and a part-time job. I remember one day I started feeling the weight of it all. It was so much and, as the tension grew, I just wanted a break and to drop it all.

As I was praying one night, I got a vision of a tree on which I was a branch bearing fruit. There was so much fruit on my branch that the branch was being bent under its weight. I asked the Lord to take some of the fruit away because it was too heavy. He smiled and then zoomed out the perspective and showed me where my branch was on the tree. I was at the top, I was new growth, and at the bottom he showed me established, strong, massive branches bearing 50 times more fruit than I was. Then in kindness and humility He told me not to ask for less fruit, but instead to ask for more maturity and growth so I could handle the weight.

That is my prayer for you and me. I know we are handling a lot. And it may be very valid that God may want to prune some things out of our lives that no longer need to be there (Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud is brilliant and can help discern this). It may also be that God is encouraging you to keep bearing the weight of what already is AND agree with Him to continue to mature and strengthen so we can bear both the weight of what is and what is to come.

My main encouragement to grow in this necessary strength and maturity is to make sure you are living in community. It can be easy to think that all the responsibilities of life limit our availability to connect in a faith community, but what’s necessary is the exact opposite. A lack of active faith community limits our ability to handle the responsibilities of life. Responsibilities require you to use your strength and pour out, so you need community to invest and pour into you. You need mentors, men and women older than you, who can lend wisdom to the road you walk. And you need true friends, most likely other peers who are walking the same point of the journey at the same time, to encourage you to keep going and keep growing.

My prayer for you to close: That our Father God of all power would strengthen you to bear up under the God-given responsibilities and opportunities you have in front of you. That Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, would continue in you His work of maturity that you might bear fruit that glorifies Him. And that you may be blessed, strengthened, and matured in a community of friends and mentors to this end. In Jesus’ name, amen.