I found out my wife was pregnant almost 15 years ago. I can still remember the thoughts that were running through my head. Immediately I began to think about the fact that I was no longer responsible just for myself – I would have to care for this new life. What would that look like?
Nothing can prepare a new father for the moment his first child enters the world. I thought I was prepared, with everything planned out. What I was not prepared for was the emotion of it all as I witnessed our first daughter being born. It felt as if I were overcome by every emotion known to mankind.
We go through so many firsts as fathers. First child, first words, first day of school, first date (not looking forward to this one), first day of driving lessons, first graduation, first day at college, and eventually – first daughter to get married. And the list goes on. It doesn’t get easier, but it is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling beyond measure.
With Father’s Day once again upon us, here are a few reflections on being a father:
1. Parenthood requires trust in God.
You hear all the time as a new parent that you will never be fully prepared. And that’s likely true. But as I have grown – we now have three daughters and one son – I have learned that part of being a father is simply putting all your trust in our Heavenly Father. Trusting Him for the strength and wisdom needed to be the father my children need me to be.
2. God has uniquely gifted me to be a father to my children.
I can tend to look around and see how other dads do it and think, “I can’t be like that” or “I wish I could do that for my child.” But the reality is that God has uniquely chosen me to be the father of my children! That is a really cool thought.
On top of that, He has given me everything I need to be the best father for my children, including providing a great example as my Heavenly Father. From the example of how Christ leads His Church, I have learned that my children need my leadership as the head of my house, a role that falls squarely on my shoulders. And in my inadequacies, I have learned that I can do nothing apart from my Heavenly Father (John 15:5), including leading my home.
3. God has given me an incredible responsibility to share the Gospel with and disciple my children – then He takes it from there.
Our two older daughters recently went to our church’s youth camp. This is the first time our second daughter has gone on this trip, and because she struggles with anxiety, she was unsure how this experience would wear on her. She was anxious about being anxious. So, we sat down and prayed for her time at camp. I shared with her a passage that my dad would always encourage me with when I was scared:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace with be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).
We agreed that when she was anxious this week, she would find this passage and think about things that are right, good, true, pure, and noble rather than her anxious thoughts. She returned from camp last week and was excited to tell me “what God did”!
She had forgotten the passage we talked about before she left. But God provided. As she laid her head down on her pillow the first night, she looked up, and on the bottom of the bunk above her head, someone had written Philippians 4:8-9. God is so good! He takes care of our needs. As an earthly dad who did what I could to prepare my child, it’s comforting to know that our Heavenly Father still picks up the slack!
Being a father is not easy, but I am thankful that I have an earthly father who modeled fatherhood for me. And I have a Heavenly Father who is there to hold my hand daily and guide me through life, including helping me with so many firsts as a father to my four children.