What does it mean to be a father? I asked myself this question many times during the months of pregnant expectation leading up to the arrival of Leo, my firstborn son. The answers I uncovered, however, ultimately led me to ask myself a different kind of question—one that struck in me a deep cord of insecurity. “Will I be a good one?” I asked myself. “Will I be a good father?”
I know I’m not the only one to have asked the question. I know I am not the only one to be struck with awe when presented with the holy responsibility of becoming “Dad.” When faced with the life-altering reality of fatherhood, I found all kinds of hopes, doubts, excitements and fears surfacing to the forefront of my imagination, and forcing me to reflect, “What priorities do I need to adjust to make room for the blessing to come? What bad habits do I need to cast off? How will the choices I make today impact the future of my little one?”
Will I be a good father?
Throughout the process, I’ve discovered that the answer to my original question of what it means to be a good father defies superficial definitions and artificial explanations. It cannot be summed up in paying bills and changing diapers; yet, a good father always cares and provides for the needs of his children. It cannot be limited to merely being present, but it is being present in the everyday moments that forms the foundation of what it means to be a family. “Mundane” moments make-up many of the memories we cherish the most. The time we spend, the produce we provide, the gifts we give, the space we create, and the words we speak—all of these and more combine to paint the portrait of true fatherhood.
Biologically speaking, becoming a “father” is easy. But truly becoming a father inwardly, allowing the seed of fatherhood to grow in the soil of the soul, bears the laborious weight of a new birth. This is where responsibility comes into play. We as men have a choice: we can scatter our seed into the wind and emotionally walk away, or we can dig our heels into the soil of unfailing love and cultivate the safe-haven of home. We can make the choice to be passive, or we can daily choose to be present with our wives and children. The former choice is easy. The latter is an intentional lifestyle of sacrificial devotion.
We as men have a choice: we can scatter our seed into the wind and emotionally walk away, or we can dig our heels into the soil of unfailing love and cultivate the safe-haven of home.
So far in my own life, I’ve found that in order to remain present I must not divorce myself from the “burden” of love. I must allow its roots to take hold of my heart and influence everything I do. Outwardly, I must plant myself in a place of provision and protection. Inwardly, I must have wells of living water to pour into the life of my family.
I am still growing in this daily. I cannot say that I’ve arrived, or that I’m able to say definitively what it means to be a good father. After one year, I’m still in the beginning stages of learning what being a father really means. I can only share what has taken place on the inside of me since I began to walk down this paternal path.
Here is what I can say. From the first moment I saw my son’s face, from the first moment I held his little life in my arms, I knew I would never be the same. I felt a shift in my soul as if I’d suddenly come alive. I felt as if, for all my life until that moment, I’d never known how deep the roots of love could grow.
From the first moment I saw my son’s face, from the first moment I held his little life in my arms, I knew I would never be the same.
Now as I look into the eyes of my son, I know I will sacrifice my life for his welfare. Nothing can sunder our bond. I am his father. He is my boy. For better or worse, until the end of my life, nothing will change or temper this love.
No amount of dirty diapers will ever alter the way I feel about him. I’ll never grow tired of seeing the joy-filled wonder of his smile or hearing his precious laughter. I’ll never stop feeling proud, humbled, and honored to be called his father. I will always be there to cheer him on. I will thank God for every day I am able to lift him up onto my shoulders and show him the unfolding wonder of our heavenly Father’s world.
Psalm 127:3-4 – Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth
Matthew 3:17 – And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”