I have talked with hundreds of fathers in the last couple years. Most are Christian men striving to be godly dads. Yet, many still use their own father as a measuring stick. I think it’s the wrong benchmark. Let me try to convince you.
“Well, at least I’m doing better than my dad did."
How does a man who wants to be a godly father arrive at this mindset? How effective he is (or isn’t) as a dad is somehow based on his own father? I think three things drive us to this conclusion, all bad:
- Pride: Our dad was a lousy bum, and since we’re a slightly less lousy bum, we can at least bank on that. We just need someone to step on, so our dad makes a good target.
- Fear: We have no clue how to be a godly dad. This fear of not being or doing enough for our families leads us to need some form of comparison.
- Anger: Still stewing about how we were raised, we must prove ourselves. I’ll show him! I'll make more money… see more of my kids’ games… not be such a jerk...
Do you regularly compare yourself to your own dad? If you do, which of the three reasons above is the most likely culprit?
If you want to be a father who doesn’t feel like a failure or have a false sense of accomplishment, I plead with you: Stop comparing yourself to your dad. When you do, you end up in one of two places, both bad:
1) You reign supreme
Since you don’t have the same challenges as your dad, you think you’re doing better than he did. Maybe you are. I mean truly, if your dad was an alcoholic, and you are a total abstainer, then yes, you win. You are, in fact, doing “better” than him in that area. However, you'll be left with this question: does God expect only that from you? That you “beat” your dad at the game of life? Is that what He asks?
2) You fall short
You’re comparing yourself to your dad, but you know you’ll never measure up. He was your hero. He was a deacon, CEO, great husband, accomplished chef, pro athlete, and an astronaut. He was the most interesting man in the world. Even so, does God expect you to always be chasing your own dad’s image? Will God hold up your dad’s resume in heaven, and ask you if you topped it?
Guys, we gotta stop this. We’re not effective dads because we’re doing life better than our dads did. And, we’re not necessarily failures if we’re not.
The real question is this: are you leaning on God’s strength to be the best dad you can be?
God isn’t going to use your dad as your life’s scorecard, for better or worse. Like the parable of the talents, He’s going to ask you what you did with what He gave you. How did you use the skills, abilities, opportunities, and situations that He put in your life to glorify Him?
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NASB)
This constant comparison to our own dads is futile. We’ve all fallen short, and need God’s grace in increasing measure as we love our wives and parent our children.
Glorify God as a Dad! Do all you can to make Him known and magnified.
Get out of the comparison game. All you can do is lose.