OK, I have to be honest here; I'm not sure whether it was the recent concert I attended or the unavoidable reality of another year, but whatever the reason, I've been gripped the past few days by this thought: we're halfway there.
Today my son turned nine, which means (based on legal status and cultural expectations) he is halfway to manhood. This thought is humbling to say the least. As I look back at the past nine years of his life, there are so many memories that leave my heart full of joy. But there are also many thoughts that leave me examining myself and my efforts to raise a man.
My son is my firstborn. He was the one who made fatherhood a realty for me and he was the first of my three kids to bless me with the great privilege of being a dad. I'm grateful for him in so many ways. I've learned so much about life and the Gospel since he was born. He's helped shape and sharpen my character and I thank God every day for blessing me with my son.
The funny thing is, his mom often tells us both that he is a tiny version of me. Not only does he share my physique, but he also shares many of my passions (though I think his love for the Patriots was more coached/coerced than natural) . When I look at my son, I often see myself, which usually leaves me feeling a combination of honor and horror. Honor, because like every man I desire to leave a legacy. I want my son to look up to me and see things worth replicating. But I'm also horrified, because while I'm humbled that he desires to be like me, my deepest desire as his father is for him to be a much better image bearer of Christ than I was in my early days as a man.
Looking back on my life and my choices, my son's birth marked a "rebirth" of sorts for me; a great awakening in my faith which led me to the reality that it was time for me to man-up. When I became a father, I was forced to recognize (with very little room for excuses) that I was now personally responsible for another human life. This was a much-needed call to action in my life. For years, including the first seven years of my marriage, I was living in a self-centered dream world where everything and everyone revolved around me. The choices I made were rooted in my own desires and if the desires and hopes of my wife were also achieved by my choices, then I was happy to chalk it up to collateral blessings.
In his grace, God helped me see the end-game of this kind of living and he opened my eyes to see the destructive and eternally insignificant payout of this kind of life. I owe a great deal of gratitude to my son, whose very life helped me calibrate my own.
HALF WAY THERE
But now, as my son enters his ninth year of life, I'm prompted yet again to examine my own life. How are my choices, as his dad, helping to equip and prepare him to be a man? What story am I telling my son with my own life? What is he learning about Jesus and what it means to be a servant of Christ, in the example I'm giving him on a daily basis? Is he seeing in me that Christ, above all other things, is my greatest treasure? If you asked him what excites his father most, would he say Tom Brady, Poptarts, or Jesus?
The reality that my son is at the halfway point of his "childhood" has been a helpful reminder that the time I have left to help him see the value of true biblical manhood, before he becomes a man himself, is quickly ticking away. This makes the importance of my intentional efforts all the more important.
What my son needs most from me, especially in a culture that demands independence and personal autonomy, is a man who is willing to invest into him and show him what it means to bear the image of Christ. A man willing to lay his own life down for the sake of his son, in order that he might leave the kind of legacy that will make a difference for eternity.
Yes, the clock is ticking. I'm halfway there. I only have nine more years until he's eighteen. What do I need to do today, to prepare my son for his calling as a man and equip him to live an eternally significant life?
Lord, I need your help!
by: Jason Allen
Jason is a pastor at RSBC. He loves seeing God's people coming together, in true community, to worship Jesus eagerly and intentionally with their every day lives. He and his wife Anna are raising their three kids and discovering new ways to grow and pursue Jesus together.