Do you remember the first time you realized your parents weren’t perfect? I don’t. It was just a gradual realization for me. But I do remember the first time I realized one of my children didn’t think I was perfect anymore. It’s not that I ever believed I could keep up the “Dad knows everything and can never do anything wrong” image forever. I was just hoping to maintain some form of hero status for as long as possible.
As a young parent I embraced the idea that the most tangible expression of a child’s heavenly Father is their parent. I still agree with that statement to a great degree, but I could also give you a list of reasons why that idea makes me nervous. As my kids grew older I became increasingly aware of why it was important for them to shift their allegiance and faith away from me and to their heavenly Father as soon as possible. On the one hand, I knew intuitively that I affected their impressions of God. On the other, I guess I didn’t want God to get blamed for my quirks and dysfunction.
I remember trying to explain my role as a dad to my youngest daughter one day when she was in the 5th grade. I think I said something like, “You know as a dad I am supposed to show you what God is like.” Her quick reply was classic, “That seems like a lot of pressure, but you don’t need to worry about it. I don’t think I will ever get you mixed up with God.” I wasn’t sure how to respond, but the sobering reality is her relationship with God is more important than her relationship with me. Anything I can do to become intentional about letting my kids go, and pointing them toward trusting God is critical for their future and personal growth.
A couple of weeks ago I invited a number of people to share their personal dreams with a gathering of over 4,000 leaders. When my daughter walked out on the stage wearing a t-shirt with the description of what she wants to do, I remembered our conversation when she was in the 5th grade. She stepped up to the microphone and said, “I want to teach girls about their perfect heavenly Father.” It was emotional for me, and also a little humorous. I reflected on the struggles of parenting, and found myself grateful for the perfect love of a heavenly Father that I know will follow my children through the rest of their lives.
So when you imagine the end for your children, how do you intentionally point them toward the perfect love of a heavenly Father?