The Best of Fatherhood

June 16, 2017

We often ask a little boy or girl, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My childhood answers included cowboy and fireman. As you get older, it is easy to entertain many job and career paths. I thought about teaching, psychology, and computer science in my teen years to name a few. We gain a lot of our identity from what we do. Meet someone new for the first time and likely the question after “What is your name?” and “Where are you from?” will be “What do you do?”

When I was making career choices, my thoughts were not on fatherhood. In the back of mind, of course, there was the idea that someday I would marry, and we would have children. I even took a college course, “Marriage and the Christian Home,” just in case. We spend a lot of time at work, it could easily reach half of our waking hours. Work that is honorable is good. I’ve found satisfaction in work, but over time I’ve concluded, fatherhood is the best job in the world!

Work is rewarding. At the bare minimum, there is a paycheck. We may feel satisfaction in creating, producing, growing, or problem solving. (And yes, every job has its drudgery. It is part of the curse on the ground, Genesis 3: 17-19). Employers may reward years of service or ideas to a suggestion box. Although I have personally found work satisfying, how do the rewards compare to fatherhood?

As a father, I’ve witnessed two births. I’ve experienced the thrill of first steps and first words. I’ve felt the joy of hearing for the first time, “I love you.” (Yes, your child will probably say, “I hate you,” at some point in the growing up. It is the risk of free will after all, but the moments of bluster pass away when your relationship is healthy.) There are proud moments of sporting events, graduations, and first jobs. Grown children whom you love and enjoy are a great blessing which includes the joy of adult and even spiritual conversation with them. I have found fatherhood is the most rewarding job in the world!

Most of the things we work at won’t last. Goods produced wear out. Buildings constructed may someday be torn down. Ecclesiastes reminds us that life is temporary, “all is vapor” and “a time to break down, and a time to build up.”* Yet, when we were expecting our children, one thought struck me: we were bringing a life into the world who has an eternal destiny. It is an awesome responsibility. Fathers if they are spiritually aware recognize that we are raising for eternity. I cannot but help admire Joshua as a father:

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, ESV)

Joshua drew a line in the sand and made a spiritual commitment to his family. He recognized fatherhood is a job with an eternal impact!

I know that I’m prejudiced because I’m a father, but it is the best, most rewarding job in the world. Happy Father’s Day!

*“Vapor” is a literal translation of the Hebrew hebel in “All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 1:14, 2:17, 3:19, 12:8) and the other line is from Ecclesiastes 3:3.

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Fatherhood Truths

June 17, 2016

Truth #1. Christian fatherhood (as all fatherhood) is on the job training. I didn’t have to pass a test to become a father. No classroom work followed by apprenticeship before doing the real thing. We may wish it were that way at times, but it is not. No user manual was twisty-tied to the umbilical cord at any of my children’s births. I have tons of user manuals for various consumer products with special readme sections before you dare try using this product, but fatherhood is on the job training.

Fortunately, we have probably learned some things about being a parent from our own family of origin. (Hopefully, that is more good than bad.) The Bible is in many ways the owner’s manual for living. If we let it, it can be a great source for learning about family. I’ve also known some great Christian men who have modeled family life for me. I read baby books as a young father which instructed me what to expect at various ages, and I read some good books on being a Christian father (focusonthefamily.org is a great source for some ideas).

Truth #2. Christian fatherhood is not always perfect but should be principled. We juggle the work-a-day world and other issues of life all while being a father. Few (if any) of us would claim to be perfect fathers. We make mistakes. We are always adjusting the balance under the pressures of life’s demands. But there should always be principles guiding the Christian father. We are pointing our children beyond ourselves to God and his word.

I think the reality is that Christian morality works. If you follow the Bible’s teachings, I believe you will be happier, better adjusted, and lead a more productive life. If we instill Christian principles in our children, they will be better prepared for life and will also be prepared for eternity. You will dramatically reduce the chance of your children living in poverty, if you get them to do the following in the right order: education/preparation for a job, marriage, sex, and children.

Truth #3. Christian fatherhood (as all fatherhood) is a time sensitive role. Older people will tell you how quickly time passes, and you may not believe it until you are an older person telling the younger generation how quickly time passes. Life is like that. Children will not wait. Enjoy your moments with them now because time is fleeting. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord now, because later may be too late. Discipline problems as children, if not dealt with, can grow into great headaches and heartaches when they are teenagers. The time for Christian fathers to be fathers is now. It is a time sensitive role.