Being a Dad has helped me see the Christian life much more vividly. In one sense, parenthood, with every midnight feeding, dirty diaper, red-faced tantrum, and bleeding head wound has created a new moment to trust the Lord and patiently allow him to shape me and make me more like Jesus. But that’s not what I’m referring to today. In another sense, parenthood has created multiple occasions when I’ve had to prepare explanations or answers for why Christians believe what they believe and do what they do. Parenthood has caused me to think hard about beliefs and practices that I have taken for granted simply because I grew up in the church. If I want to be a faithful father, I have found that I must have a good, God-glorifying answer to what my wife and I believe and practice if I am going to tell our children to believe it and practice it too.
Let me give you an example. My four year-old is a loud, fidgety, imaginative ball of pure energy, much like you what you would expect from a squirrel who just downed an espresso. In our church worship service, he stays with my wife and I for about twenty minutes until children’s church begins. During this time, when we are singing and praying, he often wants to engage in battling invisible killer robots while I’m holding him. For several weeks I was just telling him that he needed to be still or else we were going to Daddy’s office for some discipline. One day it struck me that I don’t want my son to stay still in church just so he won’t get a spanking. It doesn’t mean I won’t have to do that from time to time, but I want I don’t want negative reinforcement to be the only thing he remembers about going to “big church”. At the same time, I do have to give a reason why he must be still. What do I tell him? Why I am still during prayer? Why don’t I stand up and cut loose on the air guitar in the middle on the worship service? Remembering, 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”, I said to my son, “You need to be still and stop playing, son, this is time for us to worship Jesus by singing and praying”. Then I proceeded to tell him, “After church, it will be time to worship Jesus by playing, but now it’s time to worship him in a different way.”
Parenthood has helped me remember that every occasion in life is an occasion for Jesus, not just the occasions that seem most holy, when the pastor is praying and we’re singing songs about the blood of Jesus.