Hi friends. Father’s Day is coming up very soon, so I’m honored to share my first guest post with you, written by Chase O’Dell. Chase is a husband, father, preacher, author, and blogger at bridgewayministries.com. In this post, he shares some of his personal journey in being a dad and how having a father’s heart must come first – over ministry, work, life, and every other priority – because everything else flows from that place.
I have often struggled with finding purpose in parenting. I have moments where I feel like a failure as a father, and others where I feel like a pro at it. It really just depends on which day you ask. The temptation for me is to get so caught up in my career that parenting becomes a secondary priority. It wasn’t until just recently that I was fired from my job and put into a situation where I couldn’t escape the consequences of my parenting – more specifically my heart toward it.
The more I discover about Jesus, the more that I discover that God is more than willing to put one of our temporal interests on the back burner in order to move His eternal ones to the front. I am at a hiatus in my pastoral ministry, at least in the sense that I knew it to be. I believe one of the reasons God has allowed this to happen is so that I can focus on the ministry from which all other ministries flow – having the heart of a father.
Hell Opens Up – Wait, It’s Just the Kids Screaming
I am currently in a place that is many mens’ worst fear: being home all the time. I am home most of the day and I currently have three kids. Sophia is 8 years old, Jude is 2, and Malachi is 1. The house is rarely quiet. A man does not really appreciate screaming kids while he is trying to focus – nobody really does – but if you do not have a nurturing heart like a mother, their cries and screams sound more like torture.
Yet, God has redeemed the time. When your kids’ crying sounds like hell has opened up on earth to your ears, you have to know that something is wrong with your heart. That soul check for me caused me to seek out God’s purpose in parenting.
Recently God has shown me a unique pattern that he has created. In order for us to better know Him as He is, He gives us roles that reflect who He is.
Jesus reveals to us that God is a Father (Lk. 23:34, Jn. 5:18). He has so ordered creation that when a man and a woman come together through sex, new life is created, much like Christ and the church is represented in Ephesians 5:32. This new birth automatically puts a man into a role as a Father. God created this order so we could walk in His shoes for a little while.
When I mention Father, I am referring to women as well. A mother is also a reflection of who God is, and is equally important to the development of godly character in a child. So now as a parent we get to grapple with everything God does with us.
We hear their cries, God hears ours (Ps. 34:17).
We are called to discipline our kids for their betterment, God disciplines us for ours (Heb. 12:6,10).
God provides for us, He calls us to provide for our kids, (Matt. 6:26,33).
I really could go on and on, and I am sure you could add to this list as well. My goal is that you would see the connections between how God relates to us and how He calls us to relate to our children.
The Father’s Heart
The more that I see how central this is to God’s heart, the more it becomes one of my own priorities.
As a wise pastor once told me, We always make time for what is most important to us.
I put my pastoral ministry over my kids because I thought it was secondary, but that was foolish. You cannot do any ministry apart from knowing the Father’s heart. Ministry isn’t about ministry, in whatever context that may look for you – whether at home, in the office, or at church. Ministry is about being a representation of the Father (Rom. 8:29).
I would challenge you to put God’s priorities above your own, and watch Him transform the world around you. Anyone can walk into his or her context with a selfish heart. Not everyone does so with a father’s.
When you begin to grasp the Father’s heart, you begin to see others the way God does. And when you see others the way God does, you can treat them like He does.
The world has enough people looking out for themselves first; rarely do you see someone consider others more important than themselves (Phil. 2:3). But when we show the world a selfless heart, we become living representations of God on the earth.
Now that is something worthwhile to look at!
Chase O’Dell is a husband, father, preacher, author, and blogger at bridgewayministries.com.