Parenting is hard work. But working hard and seeing the fruits of our labour, often gives us a deep sense of satisfaction.
I became a father for the first time to my son, Lucas in December 2012. The journey to fatherhood made me sweat and gave me tears but I will never exchange the experience for anything. Being a first-time dad is amazing, it has given me many new revelations about God the Father. This article shares some of what I’ve learnt and my reflections in this journey of fatherhood.
1. Enjoying God’s presence
There was this one evening when I was lying on the bed with Lucas. He was just lying next to me, smiling at me. I realized then that I really enjoy my son’s presence as well as his smile, and I think the feeling was mutual. We were simply lying down side by side, there was no need to do anything else but enjoy each other’s presence. I suddenly had a simple thought – God, as a Father, desires to be very close to His children. He willingly draws close to me without me needing to do anything. When I express my joy to be in His presence, God the Father enjoys it very much!
2. God’s Commitment towards me
As I reflect about my lifelong commitment to Lucas, I realized that it is different from my commitment to my wife, Michelle. I made a conscious decision to choose Michelle as my wife. When we were dating, I saw how we could love one another and I also saw that she committed herself to loving me. That gave me the assurance to make a commitment to marriage. For Lucas, on the other hand, I am committed to loving him without knowing if he will respond in appreciation. When Jesus died on the cross, his commitment to each human being could be unappreciated, but He did it anyway. I finally understand the depth of God’s commitment to us! It is not about needing love to be reciprocated. It is simply giving and not expecting anything back in return. The unconditional love of God can often be paralleled to the unconditional love of a parent towards their child.
3. Love from the Community
It was not easy for me, neither was it easy for Michelle when we became first-time parents but the love we were shown from the community around us made a huge difference. The different people who stepped in to help us when we were struggling showed me how the different members of the body of Christ work together to care, bless and give to one another. From gifts, to quality time; encouraging words, to acts of service, we were greatly blessed. Being around a loving community helped us tremendously and I believe that this was a demonstration of true Christian fellowship. Being a Christian is not just about attending church but also about joyfully serving and blessing others. I’m so thankful for the people who gave generously!
4. Being ready for solid food
When I was feeding Lucas his milk one evening, it dawned upon me that he was drinking milk because he was not yet ready for solids. I was reminded of this particular verse from the bible:
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature?
[1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT]
I had a thought. For a Christian, moving towards solid food represents progress and growth – moving away from worldly values and towards a desire to know God and God’s work. A point of reflection for me was, “As a Christian, am I ready for solid food or am I actually still drinking milk and totally unaware of my need for solids?”
In a similar fashion, when I coach people using the StrengthsFinder tool, I often have to help my coachees understand that they need to grow their strengths, from infancy to maturity. Using our strengths at an infancy stage bring a lot of pain to others and onto ourselves. As I feed Lucas his milk, I am reminded to reflect on how I use my strengths, both at work and at home.
5. Ignorance to sin
There was another time when Lucas pooped in the middle of the night. I woke up (feeling really groggy) and needed to change his diapers. As I was cleaning him up, I saw him staring at me totally ignorant of the smell and the mess he had created. Worst of all, he had just taken away my precious sleep and time of rest. Very annoying indeed! This made me reflect on God’s grace in my life. I have often been guilty of creating a big mess with my sin and yet, he helps me clean it up every single time.
6. Recognizing God’s voice
It gives me such joy knowing that Lucas recognizes me when I call out to him. The joy and satisfaction is indescribable. I can imagine how God must feel when I recognize His presence and understand what He is speaking to me about. As a father, I often yearn to know that Lucas understands what I’m saying to him. Hearing God’s voice is critical in our Christian journey. When Lucas recognizes my voice, he can be directed and he can feel safe knowing that I am present. As his father, I get so much joy from knowing that Lucas is listening to my voice. To recognize God and to know His voice can make a huge difference to both myself and God the Father. I now have a deeper revelation about God’s command to hide His Word in my heart. Knowing what God is saying through His Word is akin to Lucas understanding and listening to my instructions.
7. The Still Small Voice of God
The bible mentions that God often speaks in a still small voice. One example is the story in 1 Kings 19 when Elijah heard from God in a voice that was gentle and filled with love. One of the things I love to do when I come back home from work is to go to my son and whisper to him, “Daddy is back. Daddy loves you.” I do that not to get his attention but simply because want to tell him that I love him. I think that God’s voice is like this. Always gentle and caring.
8. God’s Love is Patient
As a father, I realized the amount of patience that is needed for parents to calm a fussy baby down. I struggle immensely whenever Lucas cries out in a sustainable high-pitched voice. It takes me so much patience to remain cool and counter his screams with a voice that is both reassuring and calm. This does not always work and his response reminds me of the many times I myself fuss and get upset. I know that when I want to blow my top or to lash out, God’s gentle voice to calm me down is probably ignored and swept aside. I now know how patient God is with me.
With this knowledge, I yearn to be more patient, not just at home but also at work. As a boss and founder of Strengths School™, I desire to be a good role model leader to my team. I'm also beginning to grasp more and more how patience is such an important trait to have as a StrengthsFinder Coach. While being patient clearly is a huge challenge being an Activator, I believe that God's grace is more than sufficient.
Concluding thoughts: I strongly believe that God does not shortchange us. While I often struggle with the many inconveniences I now have to deal with as a father, I have gained lots of beautiful perspectives that I know I wouldn’t otherwise have received. If you have just become a father or are preparing to be one, I hope your experiences with your child will bless you richly!