Being the father of three little boys brings much responsibility.
Now that my wife is expecting our 4th child (this one’s a girl!), I have been thinking more and more about what I really should be doing. As a dad, there are so many doubts, desires, wants and worries for your children.
On a daily basis, I work hard on making sure they “mind their manners” around the dinner table; practice throwing and catching a ball; and learn how to serve their siblings. In my other thoughts, I wonder whether they are learning to read well; playing outside enough; and becoming a North Carolina fan more than a Kentucky or Louisville fan.
And while all of those desires are good and appropriate, I continue to find myself analyzing my “parental wishes” with which ones are expendable. If my kids don’t like to read, will I still be proud if they are very well-mannered? If they don’t like the outdoors, but they love serving the church, would I be ok with that?
When all is said and done, what is it that I must be most focused on and committed to in being a dad?
Recently these passages have begun to answer my heart’s burning question:
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
(Psalm 78:5-7 ESV)
One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
(Psalm 145:4-7 ESV)
And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
(Proverbs 7:24 ESV)
God’s Word has addressed my heart’s desire and has answered my question. My most frequent prayer and biggest hope for my children is that they would learn from me what God is like and what God has done. That they would know Him and understand Him (Jer. 9:24).
While I will continue to enjoy all the thrills of being a dad like camping and ball and reading and wrestling, I will also be diligent to make sure they are learning about what God has done.
In my ten years of young ministry experience, I have had countless encounters with older active church-goers who say “It’s not my fault, I took them to church.” This comment and reaction comes when they are speaking about why their children do not honor God with their lives these days.
Oh may God grant you and I the humble knowledge to understand that that was never the goal. It may be one of the means, but it is certainly not the end. The end goal is to teach them what God has done. Any dad serious about raising his kids to know God cannot be content with that excuse. Instead, may we spend our lives telling them what God has done and is doing.