Can I be honest? Being a dad has always terrified me. I remember when I got the news that my wife Jackie was pregnant with our first child. We had only been married for three months and we weren’t trying. In fact, the longer we held off parenthood, the better I thought it would be. So, when Jackie told me we were expecting, I was in shock. I remember telling a coworker that day, “Dude, I’m not ready for this….”
Can I be even more honest? I’m still not ready for this. Being a dad is one of the greatest privileges and roles that I get to play, but I don’t ever think I’m doing a good job. I always question myself, doubt myself, and second guess myself. Am I spending enough time with my kids? Am I disciplining them too much or not enough? Will they grow up to be functioning members of society or will they become internet trolls living in my basement on a diet of Mountain Dew and Doritos (which I need to take away from them now...excuse me)?
Now, can I be brutally honest? My biggest fear is that my kids won’t follow Jesus. It scares the crap out of me, because I know they are watching everything I do and say. And for better or worse, they are going to get their earliest ideas about God from their relationship with me. As I type these words, I’m flooded with fear. Fear that I’m not doing enough, I’m not spiritual enough, I’m not consistent enough, or I’m not a good enough role-model.
Recently I’ve been reading about a dad in the Bible named Joseph. He was Jesus’ stepdad. There isn’t a lot written about him, but I was struck by what Matthew, one of Jesus’ biographers, said about him:
“This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.”
There are two takeaways from the life of Joseph that have been an encouragement to me as a dad:
#1) SOUL CARE IS PRIMARY CARE
Joseph was a “righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly.” Joseph wasn’t just a good guy, He was God’s guy! Joseph did what was right, but he also did it in the right way. This sensitivity wasn’t a personality trait. I believe Joseph had to intentionally develop it, even developing the ability to hear from God. As dads, we need to care for our spiritual selves. Only then will we cultivate a sensitivity to God as well as to our kids and spouse, just like Joseph did. I remember that when I would wake up in the morning as a child, the first thing I would see was my dad reading his Bible. To this day, when I first wake up, I grab my coffee, my Bible, and my journal. And when my kids get up, they come downstairs and see me doing the same thing my father did. Right now, their reaction is to interrupt me so they can play on the iPad, but I hope one day they cultivate time to care for their souls, from seeing my example, just as I saw my dads.
#2) DADSHIP IS DISRUPTIVE
As I’m writing this, my six-year-old son has interrupted me more times than I can count. “Dad, can you fix my Disney plus profile? Dad, I’m hungry can you make me food? Dad, can you come here for a second? Dad are you working? What are you doing?” Being a dad in the quarantine has meant that my attention is bouncing between work and homeschooling within the same time and hour. But when my son comes to me with his questions, I’m working on leaning into those disruptions. Joe’s disruption was that he was the stepdad to the Messiah. There are all sorts of tiny disruptions that my kids bring to me that I would rather ignore, squash, or walk away from. But God is in the disruption. And when I lean into those disruptions I build trust with my kiddos. When my son talks for hours about Cyberchase, his favorite show, or my daughter corrects me because a story I told about her in my sermon was wrong (confession: I can exaggerate sometimes, working on it) these are opportunities as a dad for me to learn from my kids, for them to teach me and help me become not just a better dad, but a better disciple. But it also helps them see that following Jesus is about the journey.
If you're a dad, thank you so much for investing in your kids. Reading a blog like this is doing just that. But care for your soul, intentionally grow as a Christ follower, and He’ll show you the areas you need to develop as a dad. And then embrace the disruptions. You may find that God designed your day for the disruptions rather than the goals you made. Praying that this Father’s Day you would experience the love and approval from your Heavenly Father and walk in step with Him.