“What kind of men will they be?” These were the words that went through my mind the first time I held both of my two sons for the first time. I would later hold my two daughters and wonder the the same thing.
I remember it so distinctly. Our second set of twins had just been born, and Grandma and Grandpa had brought the first set of twins to the hospital to meet their new sister and brother. I sat there with my newborn son in my arms when my 2-year old son ran into the room and jumped up onto my lap too. In an instant, I could envision them growing up by my side. I could see them learning to walk, to read, us playing baseball, riding bikes, them getting girlfriends and going to the prom, them going to college, and them getting married one day. Each thought filled me with joy! But I could also envision one other moment. It’s the moment they stand there together without me when I am gone. I was struck by that thought. Not necessarily because it made me sad. I was struck by how the thought of that moment crystallized the responsibility that sat in my lap that day. As I thought about that moment, a simple question flooded my mind. “What kind of men will they be on that day?”
The question consumed me then. It consumes me now. What kind of men and women will my children be when every opportunity I have to shape them has been spent? Will they love God and love people? Will they be strong? Will they be marked by wisdom? Will they be good husbands and wives? What kind of parents will they make? Will they be ready to lead when I am gone?
These are the things I wonder. I can’t know the answers to these questions. But I can let these questions remind me of the responsibility I have as a father, and begin answering other important questions that will help me be a more faithful father. Here are a few questions that we can answer.
- What kind of men and women do you hope your children will become? We might not know what they will do or what they will be, but you can know what you would hope for them. Once this is clear, we begin asking the next questions.
- What are you doing now to influence this? We need to be intentional about the things we do in our home that positively impact our children. If we hope to shape them, we must invest in them. What does that look like in your home? If something is missing, be intentional about fixing this.
- What are you doing now to hinder this? If we’re honest, we’d have to admit that there are some patterns, habits, or deficiencies in our homes that are hindering our kids. I know there are in my home and in my leadership. But we can’t just leave it there. Once we see the problem, we have to resolve it. Otherwise, our best efforts to shape our kids will be thwarted.
- Does your example point them in the right direction? I have such high hopes for my kids. I want them to be godly, wise, loving, gracious, and much more. But if that’s what I hope for them, then we have to show them what that looks like. The importance of the example we set as parents cannot be overstated.
- How often do you pray for them and with them? I fail in this regularly. I don’t mean to forget, but I do. Our kids need us to pray for them and with them regularly.
There are other important questions worth asking, but these get to the heart of how we shepherd our children. I invite you to wonder with me, “What kind of men and women will they be?”, and then think about what we can do to help lead them there