Becoming a dad is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. It has forced me to come to terms with my (massive) shortcomings, humbles me every single day and has brought me greater joy than I could have imagined. It seems like an eternity ago, but we used to catch our daughter singing the Blue’s Clues theme song to herself in her mirror, dancing and smiling, using whatever toy she happened to find as her mic. In fact, tonight, as we sat together to worship, we caught her watching herself in that same mirror, dancing and smiling, as we sang a praise song together.
Jason Evans wrote a great post awhile back, Making Lunch, in which he talks about how the everyday act of making lunch for his children has become an integral, fulfilling spiritual discipline in his life. J’s words remind me not only of the kind of community I’d like to be a part of, but the kind of father I hope to become:
I am now the father, the teacher of these two little ones. I often tell new parents, “Your children are your greatest disciples… Don’t forget that this is your calling, to disciple these children in the way of Jesus.”
It’s tempting to farm out this responsibility to the professionals at the church. Who hasn’t had a really long week at work and wouldn’t want to drop off the kids for a couple of hours for some me-time? Is it too much to ask youth pastors to perform a quick two-hour extreme makeover on our prodigal kids — after all, what do we pay them for anyways? However, the formation of the resurrected life of Christ in us is a much longer and slower journey, and requires the patient, loving, everyday guidance of those who were first entrusted with these children.
Maybe it starts with helping parents to see that following Jesus around is a worthwhile, fulfilling, honorable endeavor. For those who feel “unqualified” I am reminded of Eugene Peterson’s words, “Everyone is a beginner in this business. There are no experts… Spiritual formation is not something we master.”
When I see how our daughter is growing everyday in brightness and love for God, I am amazed — and deeply grateful — that my failures do not prevent Christ being formed in her. Her life reminds me of this high and holy calling to lead her, in the ordinary and in-between, on the path of following Jesus. When I struggle with the heavy weight of discouragement, I know that I need to reconnect with God, to pursue the life that makes me feel fully alive in Christ so that instead of having a tired, irritable grouch stomping around the place, our daughter can see me following Jesus through the mess, and His life (slowly) being formed in me and — hopefully — she will want to follow Him as well.