Sunday, 15 June 2014

A father worth imitating

Me, no 1 son and my dad: looking sprightly at 80
Parenting and fatherhood is without doubt the biggest challenge I have ever faced.  I blogged about it last year on Fathers Day which you can read here.  Kirsteen and I have been leading a parenting course at church over the last few weeks which has been great but there is also a lot of wincing as I think back to some of the things I've said and done as a dad.  Thankfully kids have short memories and are very forgiving when their dad messes up.  It has been useful to discuss the foundation of the family but I have particularly found the discussions around the 5 love languages really helpful: affirming words, affectionate touch, 1:1 time, thoughtful presents and kind actions.  All common sense but when I think of my daily routine I am ashamed how little I practice it sometimes.  There is a good website called The 5 Love Languages which you can view here.   I haven't read Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell's book yet but certainly intend to.  The experience of meeting with other parents to discuss these issues on the Parenting Course, and some of the challenges we face has been a huge help to Kirsteen and I and chance to re-evaluate our parenting.
Given the challenges we all face as Christian fathers I'm always on the look out for helpful articles like the one on Desiring God Ministries blog called 'A father worth intimating' which you can read here. It is about James Paton the father of John G Paton who went out to the New Hebrides to minister to cannibals.  It talks of James Paton's faithfulness in little things.  As the article says we can all become spiritually fatigued as fathers.  We need to be inspired by examples such as James Paton.  The article finishes by saying 'The noble task of fatherhood is fraught with temptations. And one of the greatest temptations is that our good efforts go without avail. With shortsighted vision, we fathers can be tempted to give up.'  If you want to read the inspirational life of John G Paton, John Piper has written a book called 'John G Paton - You Will Be Eaten By Cannibals!'

The temptation to give up or become mediocre in our parenting is something that can face us all.  James Paton reminds us that very often God is achieving much more that we think as we struggle through our lives.  I was really encouraged recently by a sermon I heard by Joel Beeke on Caleb.  You can listen to it here
Caleb gave the minority report along with Joshua in Numbers 13 and the people wanted to stone him.  Rather than crumbling under pressure Caleb remained firm and we read that he entered into the Promised Land with his children (Numbers 14 v 24).  He endured the scorn of others but remained faithful to the Lord.  Not only was the Lord faithful to him but also to his family.  This is a great encouragement to us that our God is a God of covenant and is faithful to us and to our children. 
Fatherhood is a huge calling.  Thankfully we are not asked to do it without some great examples and a Heavenly Father who is the ultimate example of patience, longsuffering and love.  While I may not always be a great father at least I can point my boys a perfect heavenly father who will never let them down.  Surely he is a father worth imitating.