Having just celebrated Father’s Day with our three children, I’m intrigued by the question…

“What is a dad’s highest calling?”

Is it to make sure my children make straight As? To train them to be star athletes in multiple sports at once? To send them to a nice college? To leave them a lot of money when I die? To help them assimilate into pop culture? To provide them with top-of-the-line clothing, toys, houses, cars, vacations?

According to a biblical worldview…

A dad’s highest calling is to follow Jesus and to train his children to do the same… so they can train their children to do the same.

Our church family––the people with whom my wife and I have chosen to journey through life––is studying through the ancient book of Exodus this summer. I’ve been struck by how many times God invites His children (particularly fathers) to pass on their faith from generation to generation.

Is this always the reality for every father and child? Is it automatic that a desire to train one’s children to follow Jesus will always come to fruition? Absolutely not.

  • God was the perfect Father to His children in the wilderness, but not all of them chose to follow His lead.
  • Kids make their own decisions.
  • There’s no such thing as a perfect human father, just as there’s no such thing as a perfect human child.
  • Thankfully, Jesus came to save us all who’ve fallen short of God’s standards (and even our own).

But the heavenly invitation remains…

A dad’s highest calling is to follow Jesus and to train his children to do the same… so they can train their children to do the same.

One early Christian leader wrote these inspired words to his Asian congregation, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

That same author wrote to a European congregation, “Imitate me as I imitate Jesus” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

A thousand years earlier, the inspired songwriter penned these words, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court” (Psalm 127:3-5).

Jesus’ final command to his followers was to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

My mentors tell me that the true test of whether my faith has taken root in my children is not when they still live at home, but it’s if I see faith in the children that they one day raise.

A dad’s highest calling is to follow Jesus and to train his children to do the same… so they can train their children to do the same.

Why is it so important for us to buy into this idea?

  • It will affect our legacy for centuries to come.
  • It changes the way we pray for our children.
  • It impacts the time we spend with our kids.
  • It shapes the way we spend our money and our own time.

What might this look like? Different dads will find different vehicles to make this possible. For one dad, it may look like praying with his kids every day (either at breakfast or before they go to bed at night). For another father, it will be realized through reading his Bible or a children’s Bible storybook with his kids several times per week. For another dad, it will manifest itself in sharing with his children what God is teaching him, or stories about God’s kindness in the past.

Why is it important for us, as fathers, to consider these actions? Because…

A dad’s highest calling is to follow Jesus and to train his children to do the same… so they can train their children to do the same.

May God help us as we try.

Matt Friend, a Charleston native and tenth generation West Virginian, graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has served in pastoral ministry since 2002 and at Bible Center Church since March 1, 2016 (as our sixth Lead Pastor). He and Sarah (his high school sweetheart and wife) are raising two teenage daughters, Katie and Riley, and one son, Kadyn. Together, they are advocates for adoption and all things Charleston. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, kayaking, and spending time with his family and two dogs, Queso and Sabi.

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