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A Father's Aim

“My son, give me your heart.” (Prov. 23.26)

Picture the conversation--a father appealing to his son, requesting nothing less than this young man’s thoughtful allegiance. What an invitation.

As a fellow-father currently in the trenches of discipleship with my children, it's all too easy for me to get caught up in the swirl of parental responsibilities and forget the purpose behind them. As dads we teach our kids, feed our kids, train them, change them, read to them and love on them. We play catch and watch spontaneous ballet moves and set up Legos. We teach them about God and bring them to church to experience gospel preaching and community. We strive to provide a faithful model though we are weak, fellow-sinners.

But in the midst of all of the soccer games and dinner conversations and youth meetings and movie nights, we can subtly loose sight of God’s goals for our parenting. Just what is the purpose of it all?

In his book Masculine Mandate, pastor and father Richard D. Phillips says, “A wise father wants to reach his child’s heart, aiming for the willing offering of that heart both to himself as earthly father and to God as heavenly Father.” (Masculine Mandate, pgs. 94-95).

Our goal, our “prime aspiration,” as Phillips calls it, is to reach our children’s hearts. To that end, each one of our fatherly endeavors matters. They matter because they are a daily means to win young hearts. But our goal is higher than their allegiance to us. Our ultimate aim is to win their hearts for Him. We want to position their hearts to respond to the Savior's sacrificial death. And ultimately, we want them to willingly offer their hearts to Him in a life of worship. We parent for the glory of Another.

So this week as you read another bedtime story, watch another baseball game, sing another princess song, or have another heart-to-heart with your teenager, remember what you are aiming for—the willing offering of a heart to God.

As Sunday draws near, I’m very grateful for a nationally recognized holiday to honor fathers. As pastors, we are all the more grateful to walk and worship alongside so many faithful men. Thanks for pursuing the hearts of your children. May they give you, and ultimately their heavenly Father, their hearts.