The school of fatherhood
Posted on 27 Aug 2021 by Jerome Leng
Some things are hard to forget. I still remember our time in the hospital when a lactation specialist was teaching Robyn how to nurse our newborn son. She had the look of a kind old lady and was just as excited as we were as new parents. At one point, as she was stroking Emmett, our son, she smiled, shook her head, and said to us, “He is going to teach you so many things.” I remembered that because it seemed like an odd thing for her to say. They seemed like wise words and I wondered what she meant. Well, it’s been three years since the Lord gave me the responsibility of being Emmett’s dad. And, my oh my, was I schooled by a child!
For this post, I would like to share some of the things that I have learned from fatherhood. I have tried to be mindful of my role as a dad because it pleases my Heavenly Father when I mirror His likeness in all that I do. It’s different for each of us because our children and our lives are not the same. So, although I have seen many examples, I strive to be the dad that my child needs me to be.
Dads need to be present in their children’s lives for their well-being and instruction in the Lord.
I realized that I am my son’s father only when I am really with him. I think many fathers don’t realize that fatherhood is as practical as making a deliberate choice to spend time with our children. Many dads have multiple roles and responsibilities in life. We are often busy with our jobs and it is so easy to abdicate our responsibility as fathers to our wives (or the iPad or YouTube).
We comfort ourselves that we are playing our part by providing for our children with stuff when what they really need are not the things that we can give them but the moments when we can give ourselves to them. After all, my son has only one dad. That’s me. If I am not present in my son’s life as his father, then what good am I as a dad?
Being present matters because dads model the way of the Heavenly Father for their children. (cf. Eph 6:4).
As a dad, I am striving to show my son the glory of our God in all that He has done for sinners. I pray that my son learns God’s ways from me not just in the words that I speak to him but in the way I live my life for the Lord.
My son is three years old and he learns from watching me. He perceives the reality of God when he sees the way I pray, the way I study, the way I treat his mama, and the way I speak. He knows what is good and right from the things that bring me joy in the way I sing and tell the incredible stories of the Bible. He learns humility and obedience in our gentle yet firm discipline. We teach him that people are more important than things by showing him how to prefer others over himself.
As a dad, I teach my son the worth of God in my bold living for Jesus’s sake.
My son will come of age one day and he’s got to make his own choices for the Lord and live his life. I have to learn to let go as a dad. My job as a dad is to prepare him to live for the things that matter most in life. I think many parents make the mistake of holding on to their children too tightly. We forget that our kids will grow up and start their own families (if they do), just like we did. And if I raised my son as if he was the centre of my universe, I have failed him because he needs to learn that he is not the centre even of his own life! God is the Supreme Lord and we were created and saved for the eternal praise of His name (Rev 4:11).
So, the way I live my life is a testimony to the worth of the Almighty Christ that I claim to worship. Living for Christ is risky and it takes a lot of courage. I intend to sacrifice my life for God’s great cause because He deserves all my worship, rightfully so. Will my son be offended by this conviction? Will he want me to love him more than my God? Or will he learn to be courageous for the Lord even at the expense of his own life? Well, I hope my son knows that I love him but he needs to see that unless we are emptied of ourselves and are full of God, we are pathetic creatures. More than that, I hope he can live more worthily for our Lord than I ever did.
Raising my son has challenged me at the very core of my being. I cannot hide who I am. My son will mirror my failures to me. And so, rather ironically, as I attempt to teach him to take God seriously, I am being taught to regularly consider my life and be true to my God. Ha! A child is a wonderful gift from the Lord for our sanctification.
Oh, there is so much for us to learn together as sons of our Heavenly Father! I am confident that Emmett will have no short supply of teachers in his life. But what he has from me is something his teachers can’t do for him and that is a dad who can show him what it means to be a Christian in the mundane and ordinary moments of daily living. By God’s grace, I hope to show Emmett what it means to be a man of truth and courage for the gospel of Jesus Christ.