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How to Be a Great Dad

How to Be a Great Dad

Quality time together (photo: Shutterstock)

 

COMMENTARY: Ultimately, to be a great dad is to be like Christ.

Our third child is coming this September. My son Benedict will be 4 years old in October. His brother Gabriel will turn 2 at the beginning of the same month.

Being a parent, along with being a husband to my wife, Joanna, has been the greatest source of joy in my life. It has also opened up access to God’s identity as Father in a way that I never experienced beforehand. To be a great dad is simply to be a good shepherd.

Unfortunately, so many people experience fatherlessness in today’s world. They grew up like sheep without a shepherd. This can be the result of one’s parents being divorced, the abandonment of a father or a father who prioritizes work over being a dad. Many children grow up never having a close bond with their dad. No matter our experience, Father’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on fatherhood and God himself. Knowing him reminds us that we are never fatherless.

Like a good shepherd, good fathers are devoted to their children.

Growing up, my dad was always there for my brothers and me, from games, to events at school, trips to the park, and endless hours playing in the pool. Like most kids, we hated when Dad wasn’t around or when he had to stop playing with us. We didn’t want the time together to end. I now see this feeling from the perspective of a father. If I could push Ben or Gabe on the swings for 100 hours, they would let me. I am not especially gifted at pushing a swing or lining up trucks; they just want to be with their dad.

This truth portrays a deep insight into who our God is. We are made to be with God, and the Father never tires of spending time with us.

Christ’s use of the shepherd image perfectly displays this: Wherever a sheep is, whatever they are doing, when they look up, they see their shepherd. They count on the shepherd. It is in their shepherd that they feel safe and secure. It is their shepherd that ensures they have all that they need.

Every single person on the planet craves to feel something similar when they look at their dad. Every single person to ever live has a father.

So, if you are a dad, spend more time with your kids.

If your dad is still around, give him more of your time.

Like a good shepherd, good fathers also call their children by name. A dad, like a good shepherd, knows the names of his children. He “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). A shepherd would stand at the gate and call each one of his sheep by name. The rhythm of his voice as he continued to call all of his sheep highlights how he knew the difference between one sheep and another. There is something about each one that is distinct.

Christ calls each of us by name to follow him, unreservedly. “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus said (John 10:27). On Father’s Day, we are invited to not only hear the voice but respond in love to the voices of our dads and our Father.

Fathers call their children by name for many reasons: to get their attention, to lead them, to discipline them, etc. As a young dad, I have slowly learned that in order to get my sons’ attention I often need to get up and draw closer to them.

At each and every moment of our lives, the Father is calling your name. At times, we simply need to know that he is with us. In other moments, we might need correction or guidance.

Finally, like a good shepherd, fathers are willing to sacrifice it all for their families.

When push comes to shove, there is nothing that a dad would not do for his children. I know this to be true when I look at my sons. However, it is most felt and experienced in the first few days of a child’s life. The mother does so much, and there is a natural attachment between her and her baby. Each parent lays down their lives for their child, who is even more defenseless than a stray sheep.

When each of my sons were born, there were complications for my wife. This meant that I was called on more to spend sleepless nights while she rested. Sacrifice is required in these first few days. Your entire life becomes consumed with your children’s safety and showing them care. The vigilance required is like a shepherd who knows that a wolf is on the prowl near his sheep. You are prepared to do anything for them: This is what defines fatherhood.

Ultimately, to be a great dad is to be like Christ.

 

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