Good and Bad Reasons for Wanting to be a Dad

I’m going to be a dad in a few months.

As I contemplated that this morning, I asked myself a question that was rather elementary. I’m sure I had asked myself this question in one form or another previously, but never quite as directly as today.

Why do I want to be a dad?

There are a lot of reasons. Some good, some mediocre. When I do an inventory of my heart and its reasons for wanting a child, I’m a mixed bag. But I’m a mixed bag when it comes to anything, and my guess is you are too.

I could be doing it because it’s “what you do.” I mean, I’m pretty good with kids, I like kids, I’m married, my wife likes kids, and we’ve been married five years. So this is the next step, right?

I could be doing it because I want another creature to praise me other than my two cats. In my time around families with young kids there isn’t many sights sweeter to watch than a little two year old boy or girl gazing up at a father he/she hasn’t seen in a few hours. I want that. Here it gets a little tricky. Because that’s not an evil desire, in fact, I think that if a father or mother doesn’t long for that experience there’s something deeply wrong. But this can’t be the major reason I want kids.

I could be doing it because I need kids to “complete me.” I must admit, when I typed that phrase in quotations I threw up in my mouth a little. It conjures up images of teenage girls holding a picture frame to their chests, kicking back their heads and sighing deeply. But this is true in someway, isn’t it? Parenthood could make me feel mature, or responsible, or influential.

There’s part of each of those that is true of my heart. But starting a family, and being a God-honoring and glorifying father, cannot simply be the “next step” in life. It can’t be “what you do.” It’s not mundane, it’s not like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. And it can’t be about my vanity. It’s not so that my kids will love me and adore me and heap praises on me for being a great or hip father. If it were, how could I discipline them? Who knows, maybe this is why some parents have difficulty disciplining their children, because they’re afraid of how it will affect their kids’ affection towards them. It can’t be the final piece to complete my life. Because if it is, we’ve immediately skewed the focus of parenting. Like numerous other things, we’ve simply made our kids’ lives about us. What can it do for me? That is no way to parent.

But then what should be the focus of and the impetus behind our parenting?

Children are a blessing from God and they’re to be enjoyed and delighted in. But they’re also a responsibility. The fact is that for most of us, the most lasting and powerful impact we’ll have on this world will probably be through our kids. Raising children that have hearts that love the Lord, who have been raised in a church, and who are set up to be God-glorifying humans, will have an enormous influence on the world for His kingdom. That’s both a blessing and a responsibility.

May God form my heart and yours to be parents like that.

Thanks for being my diary for the day.

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