I have a long ways to go, in fact I may never get there. Even after 22 years of working at it I feel as though I’m still trying to figure this thing out. What is this thing? Being a father.
What is unique is, 22 years later I get to start all over being a dad. For those of you keeping score at home, my wife and I had four daughters and then 12 years later we had a son and just this past spring another son. Yup, round two, this time with sons.
You’d think after 22 years of experience I would have this dad thing down. I don’t. I feel the weight of overwhelming responsibility all over again. I don’t know if it’s because this time I’m raising sons but I’m burdened about this window of opportunity and I desperately want to seize it.
I know my heart. My proclivity towards selfishness with my time, my emotions, and my pursuits. Being a father means emptying yourself of yourself. It means sacrificing and serving. It means being intentional by being a step or better yet, two or three, ahead. It means getting outside of your own little world and being in theirs. None of these come natural to me. But my heart aches to be.
I also know a child’s heart is a bit like pinning jello against a wall. It’s not neat, clean or easy to peg. It is hard enough to manage our own hearts (re-read previous paragraph!) let alone theirs, but we must as dads. We have a sacred duty to mold and shape a life. I say sacred because we are sacred beings made in the image of God and our fatherhood must show the Fatherhood of God.
There I said it; words far too many dads balk at. We must be spiritual dads. It is not enough to be your child’s summer league coach, teach them how to fix stuff or hand them money when they need it. We must be the spiritual influence in their lives. You know what that means; we have to be spiritual.
The greatest challenge I face in “round two” of my fatherhood is the same one it was the first time around – myself. I cannot pass on to my sons something I do not have. If I am a zero in my own spiritual walk where do I think my boys with theirs? If I am a zero in my character, where do I think my boys will be with theirs. If I am a zero in my faith and trust in God, where do I think they will be with theirs? And to say, “Well maybe they can get that from mom” is a cop-out. I have to own this, it is fundamental to manhood.
Yes, that scares me a little. Just being honest here. But I have hope and help for my role. I have God and He is for me in my desire to be a good dad. If I will humble myself He will fill in the gaps I have (and I have them!). I have the Word of God. If I will read it, understand it, and share it with my boys; it will do a work in their lives I never could. I have prayer. If I will get on my knees and bring my boys before God, He will hear every one of those prayers and God’s Son, Jesus, told us to then watch and see what our Heavenly Father will do. This is not rocket science, this is humility and just working at it.
We only get one chance to raise a child (even if you keep having them 22 years later). What do you want your children to get from you? Because they will get something. This Father’s Day write a simple list of what you wish you could give to your children and then start giving it to them the rest of your life. But let me urge you, make that list spiritual, because in the end that is what will matter most about your legacy as a dad.
Trust me, I’ve done this before. :).