Fathers have a special role to play in the lives of their children (as do mothers!). The ideas, character, habits, and attitudes our kids grow up with are less the result of the words we say to them and more the result of who we are—as parents, yes, but specifically as fathers. Here’s the catch: who we are is more than the actions we display. It’s a result of the people we’re becoming.

The fruit of a life of becoming

Words are important for sure, but our kids are keener to emulate who we are than they are to embody what we say. Children see far better than they hear. And the behaviors they see us displaying will always be consistent with the people we are becoming.

So the question isn’t primarily one having to do with the behaviors you are modeling for your kids. That’s the fruit. The bigger and more important question gets to the root of whatever fruit you are bearing: what kind of person are you becoming? And that’s a question of the truths (or lies) you’re believing.

Becoming follows believing

Martin Luther opened his 95 Theses with this: “When our Lord Jesus said ‘repent.’ He meant that the whole of the Christian life should be repentance.” Why would Luther open with this? If he wanted people to want the reforms he was proposing, wouldn’t he start with something less… grating? For one, he was protesting specific practices in the church, but the core of his motivation was fighting for a faith that was more of a direct response to Christ’s call.

I mention repentance here because it is the inevitable result of a longing to become like Christ. And, we only want to become like Christ if we know and believe all he said—both about himself and about us as his disciples. Take a few moments to read and reflect on this passage:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1–5)

Abiding in Christ is the default posture of his true followers. Are you abiding? I’d argue that one of the greatest indicators of abiding in Christ is repentance. We are sinners in desperate need of a savior and have one in Jesus Christ. That one truth, if it is fully believed, will transform us more than a thousand books.

"No parent gives mercy better than one who is convinced that he desperately needs it himself."

Parenting while becoming

What does this have to do with parenting? The greatest and most transformational truth we can believe is the Gospel. When we grasp the full truth that we are sinners who need grace, we learn to extend grace to our children in profound, patient ways. When we grasp that we have a Savior in Christ and we have been called children of God because of Jesus, we are overcome with joy, peace, and sureness of identity that are infectious, attractive, and obvious.

You see, who you are is inextricably tied to who you believe Jesus is and what he’s done.

Who are you becoming as a result of knowing Jesus? How you answer that single question has the greatest impact on how you lead, love, and instruct your kids.