Life Goals

One of my sons mentioned that he might like to be a pastor or farmer or a regular dad. It struck me, that being a father (or mother) is not a priority in our culture. Yet, most will be fathers or mothers, intentionally or not. That is God’s design. Since we were made for marriage and designed to become mothers or fathers, it is unavoidable for most, except for those given the divine gift of celibacy.
But the church has followed the world in how it talks about career choices. Being a “dad” is not considered a successful career path for a little boy. And a little girl wanting to be a “mom” will not impress the world. These are minimized as add-ons, not of worthy significance to school counselors or strangers asking: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Yet the question, perhaps, really should be: Do you know what God has made you to be and what you will very likely be as an adult? It is not as fun or as open-ended, since the answer is fixed—there is no choice in the matter, for the majority. It is fixed in one’s God-given gender, from birth. So one can either be prepared or unprepared; surprised or anticipating its arrival. These vocations choose most people, no matter what lofty and specific careers are desired.
The impact of fathers and mothers is much greater than the most prestigious jobs in corporations, churches, and governments. In fact, it is a divinely-given duty and office to be a parent. Children are holy creations, so father and mother have a duty to raise the child for God, according to His will. “Honor your father and your mother” obligates both children and parents. There is great authority—given explicitly by our Lord—in this position. It is ours, if we are a father or mother, and if we don’t use it or respect it—it is a sin against the giver of our position. Pastors, as called shepherds of the Lord’s flock, “must manage their own household well, with all dignity keeping their children submissive” (1 Tim. 3:4). This is not grabbing control as a tyrant—the power has already been given by God, we only have to use it. To not acknowledge it or take it seriously is a great disservice. Children have friends and enablers. They need parents, especially a father. They were made for it, just as men were made to be fathers.
Too often being a parent is seen as a choice, but then it is viewed as less than divinely-binding. It is sort of like dessert—a nice extra, but nothing wrong in passing it up if you wish. That has changed how parents have treated their divine duty. Many seem surprised that they have this responsibility, but God tied it very specifically to marriage and adult life, for most.
Children do learn from parents. All live because of Christ, either partaking of His blessings—the gifts of life and earthly goods—with thankfulness or ungratefulness. If parents don’t take their job as God’s representatives on earth seriously, what are the children learning? Exactly what is being modeled—being a parent is a side-job, an extra, unimportant. What a tragedy to neglect a holy calling. Our wishes are not to be made more important than the Lord’s will—the same Lord who submitted to death for us, rescuing us from the slavery of sin.
Disciplining as a parent is a full-time job—not a hobby or reprieve from real work. It is part of training up in righteousness and godliness. Hebrews 12 reminds of what truly characterizes fatherhood—it is not hobbies or having fun!
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Fathers are to train, not merely to recede into the background after bringing home “the bacon.” It is an active thing. It doesn’t require a specified amount of “quality time,” but ensuring the child is becoming a quality adult. This is an impossibly heavy burden for a sinner, who daily lives only by the forgiveness of Christ. But God still gives the calling to be father and mother. It is the Christian’s job to take it seriously and not neglect or diminish this great vocation. Being a biological father is great—but it signifies also a burden and duty from God. This divine role defines the earthly lives for most men.
Christians should be proud to be a mother or father. It is God’s gift and office. He created it and places men and women into the particular office He has ordained for them. No one can make themselves a father or mother, it requires God’s miracle of a child. He helps those who ask Him for help and receives the humble.
Our greatest accomplishments and proudest moments should be in what God does and creates. For fathers and mothers, it is in the holy task of child-bearing and child-raising. It is troublesome, difficult work, to be sure. But it should be praised, prepared for, and sought after as something far more precious than the world’s careers which offer no lasting or eternal significance. —ed.