Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:3, NIV)
I am going to be a father in September, provided baby isn’t born a week earlier in August. The anticipation of this joyous day has been building for some time as we await our firstborn child. We aren’t finding out if the child is a boy or girl, which increases the anticipation as we look forward to seeing our son or daughter’s face! I have been able to feel baby kicking several times now, and the wonder of the child growing is incredible.
As an avid reader, of course, I have turned to some books to say what it is like to be a father, but more importantly, I have looked to the Scriptures to see what it has to say about raising children. The verse above is one which I hope to emulate in my own life as a father. Of course, the natural question to follow, then, is “What is the way they should go?” There are a number of answers throughout the Bible provided for this, but at their core is this: follow God, bring forth justice. I hope I am able to instill a desire for these things in my child(ren).
There are so many voices providing insight into raising children. Do this, don’t do that, don’t worry about it, ignore all advice [except this!], etc…. The dissonant voices are helpful, but they bring with them much concern: there is so much to know, and I know that I will blunder at times. At those times, I will seek forgiveness, hoping that they will become moments where my child will see the way he or she should go.
We’ve also been looking at names, going through name books to see which we like the sound of, what kind of references they may make, how they may shape the person we will be caring for for many years. It’s an exciting adventure, but I also realize it is only one of many moments of excitement to which I look forward.
But then, I think of something else: a child is not born into a single family. The child is born into a community. They will be born again through baptism into a community of believers. So you, fellow believers, I ask for your prayers. Help me to raise up a child. Pray, praise, and give thanks with me!
Raise up a child…
What does it mean now? In this day and age, how do we “start [our] children” on the right path? We will seek to teach them God’s word, to teach them the ways to walk in. But we also have other concerns: we don’t want to limit them to one way of thinking, or one way of being. How do we allow the freedom for these things, while correcting where needed?
So as Father’s Day approaches, I look forward to my firstborn child. My wife and I are considering questions like these, and many more. But there’s one thing I do know: God will guide us.