Our senior pastor, Dan Kirk, has been my mentor for the last eight years as I’ve gone through seminary and started out as a young pastor. Over those years he has helped me see the stunning beauty of the Gospel and it’s practical implications for even the most mundane moments of our lives. Dan continues to be a wealth of wisdom to me on that topic and for this I cannot praise the Lord enough. At one point within the last year, I asked Dan what things are most important in being a godly parent and one of his answers surprised me in a good way. He first emphasized things like the role of God’s Word as it is used in regular family devotions (or “family worship”), loving discipline in response to disobedience, and asking forgiveness of your kids when you’ve sinned against them. But then he closed with this counsel: “have lots of fun”. I did not expect this and in all the parenting sermons and seminars I’ve heard since becoming a dad, no one has ever thrown that out there as a help for Christian parents.
Why is having lots of fun an important ingredient in godly parenting? Because, as Dan has taught me, being a good parent means showing your kids what God is like. When we discipline our kids we are showing them that God hates sin, when we forgive our kids we are showing them that God is gracious, and when we have family devotions we are showing them that God is our authority. But what are we communicating about God by having lots of fun with our kids? We are showing them that God is infinitely happy (1 Timothy 1:11) and that he pours out joy on those who seek him (Psalm 16:11; 37:4; John 15:11). As parents we have a responsibility to reveal the character of God with balance in raising our children. We dare not misrepresent him by leaving out one of his attributes in neglecting to have fun!