Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Reasons I'm Thankful to be a Dad

  • Brent Rinehart www.apparentstuff.com
10 Reasons I'm Thankful to be a Dad

Being a parent is the most challenging, yet rewarding assignment we'll ever face. The role of a parent is God-ordained, and He calls (and equips) us for the job to raise our kids the right way. In his book Raising Kingdom Kids, author and pastor Tony Evans writes, “God created the first family. He told them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. And the idea was not just to fill the earth with people, but fill the earth with His image in which man and woman were made.”

We have a job to do as parents. God has not only chosen us for the task, but He also uses the vehicle of parenthood for our own benefit. English author and poet Mary Howitt says it like this: “God sends children for another purpose than merely to keep up the race – to enlarge our hearts; and to make us unselfish and full of kindly sympathies and affection; to give our souls higher aims; to call out all our faculties to extend enterprise and exertion and to bring round our fire sides bright faces, happy smiles and loving, tender hearts.”

As we are in a season of thanksgiving, here are 10 reasons I'm eternally grateful for my role as a father.

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    1. It Brings Me Joy

    Happiness and joy are not the same thing. Happiness is a mood; joy is a mode. Joy comes from a spiritual place. Circumstances can bring you happiness, but it's only temporary. Joy comes from knowing who God made you to be and recognizing all that He has blessed you with. 

    I'm not always a happy camper in my house; I get frustrated. Children misbehave, they act disrespectfully at times, and they do the opposite of what I ask them to do. None of these things make me happy. But I always have joy knowing that God has blessed and entrusted me with this important task.

     

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    2. It Encourages Me to be a Kid Again

    Do you remember how much fun it was to be a kid? Doing homework or chores was the most stress you ever encountered, and the rest of the time was devoted to play. Adults aren’t so fortunate; we bear the weight of so much – jobs, finances, relationships and more.

    I relish in those fun moments with my kids, building Lego towns, having silly dance parties or playing games. There’s a time for work. But, thank God, there’s a time for play. God has given us a chance to relive our childhood as parents.

     

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    3. It Reminds Me of My Blessings

    “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). Children are a gift. If you have them, you are blessed beyond measure. You have a front row seat to seeing God move on a regular basis in the lives of your children. 

    You get to gain a fresh perspective as your children experience things in life for the first time. You have the opportunity to influence another generation and prepare them to take on the world. Being a parent should remind you of God's faithfulness and love. It should also delight us that God would trust us with such an important task.

     

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    4. It Gives Me Purpose

    God has a purpose for each of us. If He has entrusted you with children, then He has given you that opportunity to fulfill a very special calling. What has become one of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Deuteronomy 6: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7).

    We have a responsibility as parents to teach our children what matters to God. It doesn't mean forcing them into a certain set of beliefs or rituals; rather, it means demonstrating a real faith – one that puts the focus on loving God and loving others. In my view, there's not a greater purpose we can have in life than reflecting God's image for our children to see.

     

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    5. It Keeps Me Accountable

    Do you remember that 80s song from Rockwell? “I always feel like, somebody's watching me...” It's a bit creepy, I know, but it sounds like a line written by a parent of young kids. I have an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old, so privacy is hard to come by in my house. Someone is always around!

    Our kids are always watching us, and that ever-present truth should shape what we say, what we do, and how we think. We can teach our children many things, and we should. But the saying “there's more caught than taught” exists for a reason. There's a lot of truth to it. Kids are like sponges soaking up everything around them. They will be influenced by what they see people they care about doing. That inspires me to be sure my example is at the forefront.

     

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    6. It Keeps Me Humble

    It's funny how raising kids can bring you back down to reality. Just when you think things are going well, you see your struggles as a parent on display in your kids. Before our first child was born, I remember reading all the books about what to expect. But nothing could have prepared me for what actually came next. 

    I was used to studying before a test, and generally doing pretty well. Parenting doesn't work like that. Each day is a test, and many times, you fail. Success won't actually be seen until years down the road, so all we can do now is be present and be prayerful. For folks like me who are used to being in control, that's a humbling experience.

     

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    7. It Strengthens My Marriage

    Nothing tests the marital bond like having kids. I remember the baby stages with both of my kids – my wife and I were so tired we had little patience for one another. We weren't at our best. To lighten a tense situation, we used to joke with each other duirng those days: “Don't turn on me, that's what they (these kids) want you to do.” 

    Just as gold is purified in the fire, God uses stressful times to strengthen our relationship with each other. Children have caused us to become more committed to compromise, to prayer, and to each other. We've come through a lot so far and we are stronger for it.

     

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    8. It Gives Me an "Others" Focus

    When I was a bachelor, I just had myself to worry about it … so I didn't worry very much. That's why the first year of marriage is so hard for many. It was an eye-opening time for my wife and I as well. You go from being focused on yourself to all of sudden having to consider the needs of another person. Parenthood takes it up yet another notch. With kids, it's hard to ever have time to focus on yourself. And, that's not a terrible thing. The Bible says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

    Parents considering their kids before themselves is easy and something most of us do everyday. The challenge is teaching your kids to think of others before themselves. Being a parent is a constant reminder of my duty to be an example to my kids and show them how to put Philippians 2:3 into action.

     

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    9. It Brings Me Closer to God

    Throughout Scripture, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writers use the father-child relationship to shed light on God's relationship with us. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God…” (1 John 3:1). It stands to reason that my relationship with God can be seen with new eyes as I raise my own children.

    As I encounter situations on a daily basis that test my endurance and patience, I’m reminded of how steadfast, patient, and loving God has been toward me. I can’t love my children any more than I do, yet that love only scratches the surface in terms of the love God has for us. I thank God that He gave me this gift of fatherhood and that He uses it regularly to show Himself to me.

     

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    10. I Can Change the World, One Kid at a Time

    Our world is pretty messed up. It's not a new phenomenon; it started thousands of years ago. Now, we have non-stop news at our fingertips and social media alerts to remind us. It can seem bleak. Just look at the chaos we've experienced recently, with the terrorist attack in New York City and the unfathomable church shooting in Texas. What can we do to make this world a better place?

    My only hope is to examine my own heart and relationship with the Lord. Then, I can ensure that I'm preparing my children to do their part in the world they are inheriting. The world's a big place. But, just as you “eat an elephant one bite at a time,” parents, we can change the world one kid at a time. Teach your children to love and make a difference in the name of Jesus, and I'm confident we can make this world a better place, family by family and community by community.

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    Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.