A little over five years ago I became a dad for the first time. Last September it happened again. I can tell you with every confidence that I would not trade one minute of that time for anything in the world. Being a father is one of the greatest joys in my life. It is a life that should kill our tendencies toward selfishness. It is one where we will learn to live a sacrificial life for our children. Being a father can be extremely hard in many different ways but it is always worth it. God has given us many examples of fathers throughout the Bible, but none are greater than that of himself.
Lately I have been reflecting on my relationship with my own dad. He recently became very sick and spent a month in the hospital. At times it did not seem like he was going to pull through, but he is now at home and his health is improving every day. It was a scary time for our family. My dad has been relatively healthy for most of his life, so this was the first major health scare. I noticed that I began to reflect more and more about childhood conversations, trips and time spent with my dad. Some good moments and some bad moments but throughout it all I always knew that he loved me deeply. It is a love that I hope my children feel every day of their lives.
As fathers, we try to envision the type of dad we will be. We plan out how certain life events might happen, but it doesn’t always turn out as planned. We make mistakes. We have many examples of mistakes fathers make in the stories we read, as well as in the bible. But in light of the mistakes we know we will make, we can give our children a wonderful picture of humility and grace. Through our imperfections we can continually point our children to the perfect God.
One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to live a life devoted to God. To show them a faith that is infused in every aspect of our lives. A faith that is not just on view on Sunday morning but lives and breathes in everything we do. This is a first step in teaching them about the Father. The saying is true that our actions often speak louder than our words. If our faith is alive our children can’t help but notice.
Living a life of humility is another gift to our children. Always having to be right can be a trait that is passed on, but admitting when we are wrong and asking for forgiveness can also be passed on. I struggled for years with always having to be right. I would argue almost any point to try to prove myself. But when God saved me that began to change. I cannot describe the reaction of my daughter when she first saw me come to my wife and say, “I was wrong, please forgive me.” It was an amazing pride breaking moment that has happened many times, but I know the effect it has had on my daughter.
Encouragement is yet another gift we can give our children. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians about a father’s encouragement,
“For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each
one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner
worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” 1 Thes 2:11-12
Encouragement builds a child’s confidence in amazing ways. Just acknowledging when a child does something well helps them find their God-given strengths. With encouragement we are able to help shape the paths that our children take.
These are just a very few of the gifts we can give our children. On Father’s Day as we reflect back on our relationships with our own fathers, I hope we take some time to reflect on how we are fathering our own children. Are they growing in faith, humility, and grace? Is their relationship with God alive and thriving? Are they encouraged in Godly pursuits? Last but not least, do they feel a deep love from their earthly father? Happy Father’s Day!