Today’s post is from my dear friend Grayson Pope from A Parched Soul. Grayson writes about discovering God’s purpose for our life. Honored to have him here writing how being a father made him a better Christian and more like Jesus. Be encouraged, friends.
When I offered to write a post for Julie, she graciously accepted and suggested the topic of how my relationship with Christ has made me a better father. That’s a great theme.
But when I sat down to write it, all I could think was the opposite: how my son has made me a better Christian. The greatest statement of personal faith is to be able to honestly say “I am more like Jesus today than I was one year ago.” I can say that with great fervor after having my son.
The lessons of fatherhood, while maybe not the experience, are for everyone. It’s in the father-son relationship we learn something of the Father and son or Father and daughter relationship. In other words, being a father teaches you an awful lot about what it’s like for God to be your Father.
My son teaches me something almost daily about the love of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ, and the suffering of the Carpenter. Here are 5 of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since becoming a father one year ago:
- I am selfish: This one hit me like a freight train. No one tells fathers what this will be like after you get home from the hospital and the craziness of the birth experience wears off. Having a wife certainly makes you less selfish, but it’s nothing compared to having a little, warm body that completely depends on you for survival. After about a week, resentment starts to build in a father’s heart. It’s hard to admit, but it’s true. You start to think I wish I could sit down and watch TV, or I just want to do whatever I want to do. After another week, the reality of your selfishness comes crashing down. I thank God for how he opened my eyes to my selfishness through my son.
- Patience is definitely a virtue: Most people that know me would tell you I am calm and patient. Before I had a son, my answer would probably be the same. Now that I have one, patience has taken on a whole other meaning. Babies test your patience by nature. Rocking them to sleep at 2 a.m. is no game for an impatient man. My son barely slept for the first 6 months of his life, and then was diagnosed with global developmental delays in his second 6 months. That means he’s behind in development compared to the average child his age, so every milestone takes longer to reach. Other children are beginning to walk and crawl and be busy, and my son is still learning how to roll on his side and spend time on his belly. All of this has helped me realize something deeply truthful about life. It will always be hard. There will always be something that tries your soul. Patience is how you handle the hard stuff. It’s a resilience to fall into the desolate places of the mind and to believe in the deliverance of the Man on the Tree with desperate faith.
- Other people need me: Most people don’t realize as they live their everyday lives that other people need them. Badly. I know I didn’t. My son makes it obvious he needs me. He cries when he’s tired or hungry. He looks at me with a twinkle in his eye when he wants to play. His life is dependent on mine in so many ways. And so is mine and yours. We Americans like to think the greatest virtue in life is individualism. Sorry, but that’s crap. The greatest virtue in life is selflessness. It’s giving up your happiness for other people’s happiness. My life is so much bigger than what goes on in my little head. There are people all around me waiting for me to step up and be there for them. They might not know it, but it’s true. You and I were created to serve, and it’s high time we started acting like it. God designed us in the image of Trinitarian community. We weren’t made to go through life alone.
- The world’s a scary place: Mostly I think the world’s OK, at least the one I’ve insulated myself in. Nice town, safe community, steady job. But that’s because we’ve been conditioned to accept so much of what goes on in our little worlds. After my son was born and I began to think about raising him in a godly way, everything around me took on a new meaning. The sex-fueled advertising, murders on the news, the lack of God in entertainment and the media, and war in Afghanistan made me realize this world’s a scary place. What on earth am I doing raising a child in it? But that’s the wrong question. Instead, it’s what in Heaven am I raising this child for? That makes all the difference. This world is a scary place. But my son, you, and I have a unique opportunity to be the difference in this world. To be the light that shines brightest in the dark.
- God cares about everything. Every. Little. Thing.: I’ve prayed to God for big things in my life throughout the years, but never so much the daily things I think I can handle on my own. Fatherhood fixed that real quick. At first I wasn’t sure if I could even make it. Surely this was a bad idea. So I began to rely on God for what seemed to me like little things. Patience when he wakes up every 2 hours, humility when I don’t feel like getting off the couch to check on him so my wife doesn’t have to, or a slower pace when I didn’t want to be distracted and miss a precious moment. These are what we call the little things. But they are everything to God. He treasures these little prayers offered up in humility. I have seen more prayers answered over the last 12 months than in my first 24 years combined. There are 2 reasons: 1) I am praying much, much more, and 2) I’m giving up the things I thought I could handle on my own.
I want to offer something as a postscript. 12 months ago, these words could not have been written by me. But 12 months from now, they could be written by you. No, I’m not saying go out and have a kid. What I mean is that these lessons are ones we all need to learn. If there’s one you skipped because you think you already have it down, you better go back and read it. That’s the area you’re most open to deception. I hope at the end of the year, you can look back and say some of these same things.
I hope you can look back and say “I’m more like Jesus today than I was a year ago.”
Grayson Pope is a Christ-follower, husband, and father. He helps people look past the immediate and focus on the eternal. You can follow Grayson on his blog and Twitter, and grab a free copy of his new eBook about finding your purpose here.