Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.” So he divided his property between them. Luke 15:11-12
All fathers are a work in process—none perfect, no not one. Boy, do I still feel this—even though my oldest child is 33 years old! I prayed Rebekah (our first child) would have extra patience since I was always practicing on her. Often trial and error (she might say terror!) was my approach to fatherhood. I often questioned myself, “Was I too strict?” “Did I balance firmness with fun?” Fortunately, God filled the gaps of my inadequacies. His grace became our family’s relational glue. My imperfection as a father keeps me dependent on my heavenly Father.
Jesus describes a man with two sons. So, we know from the outset this dad, like the rest of us, was a flawed father. No doubt he tried to do the best with what he had. But the pressure of raising two very different boys was real and raw. One day he faced the challenge of how to respond to the disrespectful demand of his youngest son. The dad decided to give both boys their inheritance, knowing they might not be ready. The younger squandered his stuff and the oldest grew self-righteous. What looked like a major parenting blunder—turned out to be a decision that brought the youngest back to God. Imperfect fathers trust the Lord to bring about His perfect plan.
“For a son dishonors his father… But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:6-7).
Do you feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities as a dad? The day in and day out energy it takes to love and lead your little ones takes much more out of you than you ever imagined. One thing is for certain: you can’t be your best without learning from the best. Alone you may be a better father than some, but with the help of others, you can become a better dad than most. So, invite three other dads for coffee and discuss booksand scripture about parenting. Set the tone by being vulnerable about your own insecurities. Imperfect fathers learn from imperfect fathers.
Above all, as imperfect earthly fathers, we lean into our perfect heavenly Father. He takes our best efforts and carries out His will. He takes our mistakes and teaches us humility. He takes our weaknesses and makes us strong in Him. Our imperfections are not an excuse to plateau as a parent. We keep learning. We ask forgiveness from our child. We pray with our child. We play with our child. When we are honest about our fears and struggles we create an environment of open communication. Fathers fail when they quit, but they succeed when they stay engaged with their child and with Christ. Fatherhood is not for the faint of heart, but it is for a heart of faith.
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep me in the process of receiving your perfect love and grace.
Application: What dad is a few years ahead of me who I can learn from? Consider listening to Andy Stanley’s interview of Boyd Bailey on Relating to a Distant Dad.
Related Readings: Proverbs 23:24, 30:11; Luke 11:11; 1 Corinthians 4:15; Ephesians 6:4