A Pure Purpose

courtesy of www.mineeo.com

God's goal for all of His children is to transform them into the image of His Son Jesus Christ.  John the Baptist said it well, "He (Christ) must increase but I must decrease" (John 3:30).  God is truly glorified in us when we are less and Christ becomes more.  In other words, God is greatly glorified in us when we are most sanctified by Him.  As a father and a man of God, my sanctification is God's pure purpose for my life.  It is this higher purpose that needs to define who I am and how I live.

We have our perfect model, mentor, and teacher in Jesus Christ.  His love for the Father compelled Him to live in a manner of great intentionality and purpose.  He was always about the work of the Father for the glory of His Father.  My personal calling is to follow in His footsteps.  I know that my life, much more than my words, will have the greatest and most lasting impact on my children.  As God defines me as a man, He refines me for a greater purpose.  With each step closer to God, I am better positioned to serve Him.

It is within this sanctification process, that God reveals His work within our lives.  As we cling to Christ, God bears His fruit in us (John 15:8).  At its most basic level this means less of us and more of Jesus.  This is an inseparable reality within our standing as a child of God.  To be held within God's grip of grace compels a response.  Saving faith will produce works, and God's love within us will move us to share His love with others.

What does this mean for us dads?  For me personally, it means that my words are not enough.  I need to  teach my kids the love of Christ by living out the love of Christ.  To say I love God is not enough.  I must relentlessly purpose to live that love in way that impacts others, most significantly my own kids.  

As dads, our kids can be a kind of mirror that reflects our life priorities back to us. While this may not always be true, we are positioned by God as dads to have this type of impact on our kids.  If I see my son acting a certain way toward his mother, I'd need not look too far to see who he learned it from.

This is a God-driven truth I have learned over time.  God uses my personal sanctification as one of His primary influencers over the lives of my wife and children.  The closer I walk with God, the more He will use me to impact my family for Him.  Yet, God is not limited by who we are or the lives we have lived.  Rather, in Christ Jesus our lives our unlimited by who He is.  As a father, I am continually praying that God will bring godly men and women into the lives of my children to influence them for Him.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works."
Titus 2:11-14 ESV

The above passage has great implication and application for all of us.  

1- God's grace through Jesus Christ came to save us.
2- God's grace through Jesus Christ came to train us to live for Him.
3- God's grace through Jesus Christ gives us a new life focus and greater life purpose.
4- God's grace through Jesus Christ will purify us for His good works.

As a child of God, this is my life calling.  As a dad, I can't do any better than aiming at God's greater purpose for my life.  Less of me and more of Jesus.  This life purpose affords no middle ground.  I must firmly holdfast to the plow that God has given me and not look back (Luke 9:62).  It is a sanctified life filled with continual repentance, renewal and total reliance on the completed work of Jesus Christ.  

No More Mr. Nice Guy

A number of years ago I read an article about a growing sentiment that men care more about being “nice” than being godly.  Let’s face it, it is much easier to be a “nice” dad versus a godly one.  Just like today’s nice guy, a nice dad leans toward passivity, is often non-confrontational and is a peace-keeper versus a peace-maker. Sadly, the nice dad syndrome has infected as many Christian men as non-Christian, and the fall-out is both tragic and devastating to our kids.

I can speak from a very personal level as I’m a recovering “nice guy.” For 25 years, I allowed the culture around me to train me in the area of niceness. In many ways, I was in a different boat but riding the same current as everyone else. Every once in a while, I would see a Christian dad paddling against the main current. He was often alone in his efforts and he was never considered a nice guy. He definitely would not party, never watched movies with nudity or profanity, and spent most his free time helping others or leading Bible studies.

Back then, I looked at that guy as an over-the-top Christian. Why? Christ defined who he was and how he lived in every aspect of life. There was no compartmentalization of his faith. He infused God’s Word into every area and relationship in his life.  In every way, he was a man on a higher life mission. Yet, what really made me dislike this non-nice guy was that he made me feel uncomfortable. I enjoyed riding with the current and having everybody like me. It wasn’t like I was the worst dad out there. I coached my kids’ sports teams, read to them at night, helped them with their school work, and attended church on Sundays. I was like most Christian dads out there and felt that I was nailing this dad thing.

Then it happened. About fifteen or so years ago, I suddenly realized that something wasn’t right. My life was not much different than the non-Christian dads out there who were nice guys. Sure, I didn’t party like them and I went to church on a regular basis. Yet, I also knew that I was leading my family down a fairly broad road and not the narrow one God wanted for us. I could no longer just ride the cultural current that was taking my family closer to the world but farther away from God. I can only look back now and say it was God’s Spirit moving me toward some serious growth in my walk with Him. It was my spiritual tipping point. I could no longer be just a nice dad. I had to become a godly one. Even if it meant losing my nice guy status.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Galatians 1:10

This verse says it all. Do I care more about what man thinks or what God thinks? If I want to be liked by everyone all the time, including my kids, I will need to wear my nice guy hat. To stand for everything is stand for nothing. This fits a nice guy well. However, if I want to please God and be a godly father, I must stand for Him. I must be anything but a passive man in my roles as a husband and a father. I need to be willing to engage my kids for Christ at every stage of their development into adulthood. I need to set an example for my sons to strive toward and be the kind of man that my daughters could one day marry. God has given me the honor to lead my family closer to Him everyday and I must relentlessly embrace this calling.