Let me wax autobiographical for a moment and share some personal developments in my life. I now have two children, my second being born about 3 weeks ago. He’s a healthy, chubby, little boy named Edwin Oliver and has already proven to be a great baseball player, and is clearly the most intelligent little boy born this century. As you can tell, I am overjoyed at the blessing of this son.
These last few weeks have been short on sleep, full of ironing out the wrinkles that come with the addition of a new family member (especially helping a lovely little 2 year old understand and navigate all this), and all around wonderful as my wife and I get to look at each other and see how our love is blooming all around us. The blooming involves dirty diapers, messes with spaghetti noodles, and moments when our children prove they’ve inherited the Ben Zornes knack for an abnormally loud volume level.
It has been fantastic.
Good ol’ fashioned fun!
However, these last few weeks have brought home afresh to me the tremendous privilege and responsibility of being a father, or as Marlé calls me “Da-da”! It has reminded me that before Edwin or Marlé can ever read a sentence from God’s Word, they will have been shaped as to what a Father is from me. So, when they learn that God is our Heavenly Father, they will go to the shelf in their brains marked “Father”, and the containers there will be full of examples, words, attitudes, and actions based on me, their earthly father. I’m shaping and fashioning their understanding of what God is like, and this is not something to take lightly.
Will they know that Father means attentive, caring, strong, protective, consistent, and disciplined. Or will they think of Father as being absent, neglectful, annoyed, disappointed, and careless. They will learn something about what a Father is, they question is what will my life and words teach them.
So, to you fathers, this is your responsibility, and if you don’t take responsibility the haunting reality is: someone else will. You are putting an indelible stamp into the soft clay of their little lives, which will inform them for the rest of their life. Pray for them. Tickle them. Discipline and teach them to walk in the way of faith like our Father Abraham. Show them what it looks like for a man to love his wife selflessly. Example to them what fearlessness, courage, humility, honor, and steadfastness looks like. In training your children this way, God has promised that when they are old they will not depart from the Way! Embrace the responsibility, and watch the world be turned upside down.