1. The Joy of the Gift
Our kids are such incredible gifts. Oh, the things they do that amaze us! The joy of what they say, what they sing, and what they do. I’ll never forget when my first son—not quite two years old—told me, “Great job, Dad!” after I tied his shoes. I had been trying to be a better encourager to the people in my life, and with one of his first full sentences, he was encouraging me and teaching me to do the same. That moment changed me.
These moments are gifts. To cry tears of joy because your daughter sings a song in her talent show that is just for you. Or the way our children run to the door when we get home. Their love and joy, just wanting to be held, becomes the best part of the day.
As gifts, these moments come from a giver: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17 ESV).
Stop and think about your child or children. What are the moments with your kids that have given you the most joy? Write those moments down and thank God for them.
2. The Joy of Parenting
The joy of loving and raising our children is also a gift. This is part of what we were made to do —to raise our kids as God is raising us.
How awesome is it to teach your child something and to see them do it? What about teaching your kids how to play a sport or a musical instrument and seeing them take your teaching and do so much with it?
Sometimes the hardest thing we do for our children is to do nothing and let them work through it. How incredible it is to work on being patient as we see our children struggle, and then to see them learn and push through those struggles. We learn that they learn when we let go.
How amazing it is to teach our children to know God by taking them to church and by singing and praying with them! God confirms our role and purpose as dads as we are faithful to raise our children. 3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” The Apostle John says this about his spiritual children, but as parents we get the double joy of having kids that can be our natural and spiritual children as they follow Jesus.
This joy might seem like something we earn through our diligence or hard work, but it too comes from God: “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents” (Malachi 4:6a ESV).
What are all of the blessings of being a dad to your children? Write them down and thank God for them.
3. The Joy of Knowing God Better
God the Father is the one who gives us each of these gifts. He gives us children for the joy we’ve talked about already and ultimately so we will know Him better. Raising children makes us rely on our Heavenly Father far more than we could have imagined before having kids.
Our situations we face as we try to love and care for our kids show us the heart of God. The long nights praying for a specific child lead us nearer to God. So do very specific moments. I once had to hold my son down in the hospital as he screamed, “Daddy, don’t hurt me.” I did this so the nurse could put a critical IV in his arm that would give him the fluid he so desperately needed. That is exactly what God does for me. He holds me down and makes sure I get what I need, whether I realize I need it or not.
We also see our sin through our kids. I hate it when my children are not grateful. I’ll say, “Don’t you realize how fortunate you are? Don’t you realize you have everything you need?” Then as the Holy Spirit arrests me, I realize that I am exactly the same way, not grateful enough, always wanting more, yet God still loves me. In my parenting, he shows me exactly what I still need to learn from him. God reminds me that he has given me all the grace and love I need through his Son Jesus. Because of God, I have everything I need.
When I read the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I don’t mainly relate to the younger brother or the older brother anymore. I’ve started to relate to the Father—realizing more than ever how much God loves me. He loves me enough to let me fail, and he is still waiting on me with open arms to love and care for me.
Here’s how Jesus describes that moment: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20 NIV).
What are all the ways you have relied on God to raise your kids? The answered prayers, the moments of comfort when you were worried, the way you now know the heart of God better than you did before you had a child. Write them down and thank God for them.
Think about all of these things (whether you make the list or not) and fall asleep tonight and every night thanking and praising God for the joy of being a dad.