Every father is a pastor and a preacher. Every father is a shepherd. You are leading somebody to somewhere. You are teaching somebody about something. These are unavoidable. Even if you abdicate these responsibilities out of laziness and selfishness, you are still fulfilling them in some fallen, marred way. They follow you into the pit of cowardice. They learn the lesson of….whatever.
And woe to those who would cause a little one to stumble. (Matthew 18:6) It is a responsibility that should make us tremble.
Yet, God always gives blessings with responsibility. At this point, I can’t think of a greater gift than when my daughter yells “Daddy!”, runs up to me, grabs my hand, and drags me to the latest mischief she’s gotten herself into. I’m sure my son will be the same way, although I assume his mischief will entail more of a combination of mud and scraped knees. It is a delight. It is a privilege.
It is something that has eternal consequences.
Our children are a precious gift, but they are not to stay the same as they are. Their souls need to be converted just like our souls. They are lumps of iron that need to be forged into sharp arrowheads (Psalm 127:4).
If you are a father, your children are the main reason you are here. And like Paul, our sentiment should be directed by Heaven, but bound to earth.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this,I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:20-26, ESV)
Our work is fruitful labor (Proverbs 22:6). He gave you a wife because he desires Godly offspring (Malachi 2:15). He commands us to never stop teaching them the ways of righteousness (Deut. 6:7 and 11:9). Every hour of every day is somehow devoted to this task. You imitate Christ, not only for your own sake, but for the sake of the souls put under your charge.
It is good to long to be with Christ. But for those of us with children, with the weight of a kingdom on our shoulders, it is more necessary for us to remain. For their account. We long for Christ, but first, we must bring Christ to them.
And so we should desire to stay here. If Paul thought it better on the Philippians account that he should remain and minister to them, how much more so our own children?
Thanks be to God that this heavy responsibility comes in the form of a gift, and is first made light with unspeakable joy.