HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (BP) — A close friend called me the other day and asked if I could use a quick coffee break at Biggby’s. He had something he needed to tell me right away.
I’m always up for coffee, but I was a bit nervous because the last time he said something like this it involved something one of my kids was doing that needed to be addressed. This time, it was quite different.
He smiled from ear to ear as he shared that he and his wife were expecting a baby. This is such good news because there was a lot of uncertainty if they could even have children.
I celebrated with my friend, but it brought me back to the early days of diapers, teething, toddling and everything else that comes with little ones. My wife Amanda and I have five children. The oldest will have his driver’s license soon and the youngest will start kindergarten in the fall. We have a full house.
At Redemption Church where I am a member in Grandville, Mich., we use a simple but profound phrase — Jesus changes everything! This includes my role as a dad. As I thought of what my heavenly Father has done for me through Jesus, I became keenly aware of how all that impacts how I parent.
Three ideas came to mind:
God loved me so much that He gave His Son to die for me. I know I am loved. I want my children to know they are loved and embraced also. I don’t want them to ever doubt either their heavenly or earthly father’s love for them. I make a point to tell my children how much I love them — every day if possible. God reminds me of His love so I want to do the same for my children.
God empowers me through His Holy Spirit. He has given me everything I need for life and godliness. I want to give my children everything they need to grow and blossom and mature — knowledge, resources, feedback, encouragement, instruction. I desire to provide an environment where they can grow, but I also continually prepare them for a very hostile world that will challenge their faith.
God has a mission for me. I am His ambassador and representative. My mission is to beg people to be reconciled to God. As a father, I have a responsibility to help my children embark on the same mission. The goals of education, career and family are good, but if my children do not have making disciples as their primary goal in life, I have not done my job properly. Disciples make disciples. I must train my kids to share their faith and show others how to follow Jesus. Overwhelming at times for sure, but crucially important.
I am grateful I get to be a father. I’m thankful for my heavenly and earthly fathers. I pray that God will help me to be the dad He wants me to be. On April 30, 2017, I had the privilege of baptizing my fourth child Joshua. Words are not sufficient to explain how incredible the feeling was at that moment.