And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Hebrews 12, verses 5-6.
If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know I have three kids (and three grandkids). The most important task I have on this planet is to “go and make disciples.” I do that by using the talents God has given me to shine in front of others. All that starts with my kids. When I was a young man, I wasn’t interested in being a parent. I wanted to see the world, do great things, be ‘somebody.’ Long before my kids were born, I thought I was destined for greatness, to be famous, to do big things in a big world. As a dad (and now a grand-dad), I’ve done all that. Looking at life from the other side of the parental glass, God guided me to see the world with my kids, to do great things with them. I’m somebody in their eyes. They think I’m great, I’m the world famous Dad Bod from Paris, and I’ve lived large because of them.
Nowadays, I see that the most important task I’ve been given on this planet starts with sharing Jesus with my kids and grandkids. I didn’t always see things this way; it’s been a long time coming. Along the way, I’ve made serious mistakes, I’ve been a hypocrite, I have failed over and over. Yet I’ve also usually done my best, and I realize now that the good things and bad alike are gifts from God. I give them to my kids as gifts by sharing how I behave, what I believe, what I do with them in the perspective of trying to live out the words in my Bible and the things I share here.
Here in America, we idealize our kids. We put them on pedestals, spending exorbitant amounts of money spoiling them. Nothing is too good for our kids; nothing they want is out of reach no matter what it costs us. Have you realized yet that we have it backwards? Our kids (usually) don’t want lavish spending. Our kids want we parents to lavish love on them. We don’t do that by buying them things. We do it by first sharing the lavish love of Jesus.
And it aint always easy. Sometimes I still rebuke my grown-up kids. Sometimes I say things they don’t want to hear, but I rarely do so off the cuff. When I speak up it’s because there’s something I want them to know, even if it’s just “I love you.” We have to remember that the core of “discipline” involves a disciple and discipling. More than any other role in this world, I want my kids to be disciples of Jesus. I’d my honor to parent them along that disciple’s path.
Larry Elder is one of the people I follow on Twitter. He often quotes that the single biggest problem in the ‘black community’ today is the absence of fathers. Statistically and realistically, kids do better and have a better shot at a happy, successful life if both a mom and a dad are present in a committed relationship. I believe that’s true in every situation, not just in the black homes of America. No I’m not disparaging single parent homes, especially single mom homes. I’m simply sharing a factual statistic with which I agree. After all, it’s the model Jesus instituted and the one He modeled in His own life.
We don’t know what happened to Joseph after Jesus became an adolescent. Sometime after the incident where Jesus was left at the Temple, Joseph disappeared. He probably died; he’s absent from the rest of the Gospels and Jesus doesn’t say. Some folks would think this means Jesus was raised in a house where there had been a deadbeat dad. Some infer a message of “see, dad’s don’t matter.” Both of those interpretations are greatly lacking in both insight and common sense. A better way to look at it is that Joseph’s role was complete. His mission was complete (and successful) and his purpose fulfilled. http://www.allaboutjesuschrist.org/joseph-the-father-of-jesus-faq.htm says that “Perhaps the cause or timing of his death is not nearly as important as the strength of character he displayed.” I like that interpretation, because it jives with the entirety of his adopted son’s life. Joseph trained Jesus in the worldly skills of carpentry and working with people. He stood by Him even before He was born by refusing to deny Mary as his wife. He took Jesus to the synagogue, and he imparted on Jesus patterns of behavior that were displayed all through the adult ministry we know about. Joseph raised other sons and daughters with Mary, and he taught Jesus how to be a big brother, how to be both family and friend. Have you ever considered that Jesus did some of the wonderful things He did not just because He was God, but because He was God who also learned at the feet of a good step-father?
Someday I’d like to ask Joseph how he handled things as a father. Dad to dad I’d like to ask him a few questions. I’m betting that, in the conversation, Joseph might just say it was the most important task of his life: discipling the Man who he would follow as the Savior of his life.
For further reading: Psalm 94:12, Psalm 119:75, Revelation 3:19, Proverbs 3:11-12.
Lord, help me as a parent to live out a good example for my kids and all the folks around me.