I doubt I’m unlike most fathers in that I like to conclude my day reflecting on what I was able to cross off my to-do list.
Work a 9-5 shift? Check.
Mow the lawn? Check.
Pay the bills? Check.
Spend quality time fathering? Um…
I’ll be honest; fathering sometimes feels like more of a distraction to real accomplishment than the essence of it. However, the way a man fathers his children affects his most lasting legacy. As I strive to keep this in perspective, here are three truths I often remind myself:
Fathering is a Significant Investment
Financial advisers encourage investors to consider long-term payouts. That is, small deposits invested over time often yield valuable results. This advice can also apply to fathering. Small contributions of parental investment can affect the future in drastic ways.
Consider how many people our children will influence over the course of their lives and the generations of future families that could be birthed through them. Time poured into our kids is a contribution into the life of every soul they’ll impact. If we rank accomplishments by what provides the most “bang-for-the-buck,” time spent fathering might very well be at the top of the list!
Fathering Has Lasting Effects for God’s Kingdom
David is known for being a man after God’s own heart. However, while David prepared for construction of God’s temple, he left his own household in shambles. This was in large part due to David’s reluctance to actively shepherd his kids.
1 Kings 1:6 reports David never, at any time, rebuked his son Adonijah. David, the warrior king known for slaying giants, was reluctant to put forth the effort to discipline his child. If this was a pattern, it could explain why David’s immediate family endured drama that would prove shocking for most daytime talk shows (see 1 Kings 13-19). The poor character of David’s kids and grandkids also caused the mighty kingdom he had built to fracture a mere two generations after his passing.
Like David, most of what I currently label as accomplishment deals with activities that build my kingdom in the here-and-now. As I consider David’s life, his accomplishments and failings, I want to allocate less effort to what crumbles and more time to my children whose souls are eternal.
Fathering is a Noble Task
1 Corinthians 10:31 says that whatever we do, we can do it in a manner which brings glory to God. However, it’s safe to say that fathering falls into a different category than cleaning out the gutters. Both can be done unto the Lord; however, Jesus used children, not water drains, to illustrate the Kingdom of God.
Time spent fathering often gets equal ranking on to-do lists with common tasks such as changing the car’s oil or aerating the grass. We, the church, have the privilege of elevating a dad’s duty to invest in his kids by heralding it as a noble responsibility that outranks menial tasks. When I’m tempted to see fathering as a distraction to real accomplishment, I remind myself of the great honor the Bible assigns to fathers who strive to shepherd their children.
These three truths help remind me of what makes for true achievement in the life of a father. It’s easy to get thrown off course when Evernote and other productivity tools make me feel guilty for the tasks I didn’t get accomplished by the day’s end. In times like these, I look to my children asleep in their beds and say, “No, time spent fathering is never wasted.”