I will be honest, listing just 10 reasons why I am thankful to be a dad will probably be a challenge. Fatherhood has changed my life and given me an awesome responsibility. It is the everyday moments I share with my daughter that lead to a greater purpose, but here are some that top the list.
1. My Words
A father’s words can ring into eternity in the lives of his children. The right words build a confidence and self-worth that will lay a foundation for decades; the wrong ones can wreak havoc on a young man or woman’s heart for who knows how long. Dads, what we say today will profoundly impact how our children see themselves tomorrow (Ephesians 4:29).
2. The Way I Live My Life
Fathers wear many hats: provider, cook, playmate, protector, confidant. Still, most of that is only seen from the outside. Our decisions today will have generational impact, for better or for worse. What matters most is what sort of man we are on the inside--and if we are living that man out on a daily basis. Our children are blessed when we walk in integrity (Proverbs 20:7).
And swimming, and diving in leaf piles, and climbing jungle gyms I don’t fit into anymore… Let’s face it--dads act like big kids a good portion of the time. Yes, the serious life matters always come first, but we DO get to do lots of fun stuff! I absolutely love it when I relive memories from my own childhood and share them with my daughter. This builds both traditions and stronger bonds with her (Ecclesiastes 3:1, Proverbs 17:22a).
4. It is God-Given
The Bible is clear when it comes to God’s plan for family and each parent’s role. Fathers play a very crucial part in their children’s physical, emotional, and spiritual upbringing. Malachi 4:6 is the last verse in the Old Testament and Protestant Church tradition tells us there were 400 years of silence from God between the Old and New Testaments. Don’t you find it interesting that the last recorded word we have from the Lord for 400 years has to do with fathers and their children? So I would say it is quite important to Him!
5. It Has Changed My Life
There is a stark contrast between my Before Christ days and the years that followed. My teens and 20s were filled with addiction and chasing after the flesh, nearly fatal on several occasions. God began my heart transplant back in 2001; but once my daughter was born in 2006, I knew I couldn’t be a good dad if I stayed on the path that I was on. Something had to change and that is when my walk with Christ began (John 10:10).
6. It Gets Me Out of the Way
Tailing off the point above, parenthood continues to give me a reality check of how selfish I can be--even 10 years later. Behind our own relationship with Him and then our spouse, God holds parenting near the top of the list. Nothing will disrupt a man’s ego faster than changing a dirty diaper or giving up a round of golf on Saturday for a recital or soccer game. Best of all, the words I love you, Dad will make even the toughest of men fall to our knees (John 15:13).
7. Butterfly Kisses (or Some Knuckle Bumps)
As I mentioned in the introduction, it is the everyday little things with our children that add up to life-long memories. Sometimes wasting a day with our children doing what may seem like nothing becomes a memory that you all will hold on to for the rest of your life. As Maria Edgeworth said, “If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”
8. Preparing Her for Life
In his book, Girl’s Passage, Father’s Duty, my good friend Brian Molitor lays it out like this: “It is a hard reality, but to prepare a child for adulthood and then release them is a father’s responsibility.” As parents, we want to hold on to the younger years with our kids as long as we can (okay, maybe not all of us). It is our hope to raise mature Christian children. What an honor to be entrusted with this (Proverbs 22:6).
9. Spiritual Fathering (Mentoring)
I would be remiss in writing an article on fatherhood without mentioning the need for men to father other boys. The numbers are overwhelmingly against young men (and girls) growing up without a dad. I have the privilege of mentoring two boys myself; the return on investment cannot be measured! Dad, one hour a week is all it takes to potentially save a life, and it’s biblical (James 1:27).
10. Bringing Her Up in Christ
I will never forget the day my daughter and I scooted out into the church aisle at the end of the service and walked towards the front. A few minutes later she was giving her life to Jesus. I always wondered if that day would come and if I would be present to see it. God delivered both! Dads, one of the highest callings we have is to instill the truth of Christ into our kids. Whether they are two or 22, keep living your faith out for them (Ephesians 6:4). It matters.
Please pray with me:
Father, I thank You for allowing me to be a dad. I do not take it lightly. God I realize that I am a broken man, but I thank You that You have provided me with everything I need to raise my son and daughter up in Your Word. I ask O Lord, that You would bless my family. Make me the man, husband, and father I was created to be. Help me to recognize the important life moments with my children and to enjoy the silly ones. Teach me to be a visual representation of Your Son so that they may live their lives for You. Give me the strength to stand when they cannot, and the grace to show love when the tough times hit. I completely surrender my life and my family to You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Matt Haviland is the founder and director of A Father’s Walk single dad ministry, the coauthor of The Daddy Gap, and the cofounder of the Midwest Single Parenting Summit. He is an ordinary guy who chases after an extraordinary God. Matt lives with his wife and daughter in Grand Rapids, MI. For more information, please visit www.afatherswalk.org.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: December 28, 2016