The Heart for Fatherhood
Last month, I just turned 18 – as a father. As we celebrated our eldest daughter’s 18th birthday, I reflected on my journey from “infant da-da” to “adult dad” and discovered that one must truly have the HEART for fatherhood in order to be a good father.
Head knowledge – In my early days of being a dad, my goal was to be the best father I could be. So I studied the Scriptures on the roles of fathers, from “training up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6) to “not provoking your children to anger by the way we treat them” (Ephesians 6:4). These instructions are vital, but I found that if I wanted to grow as a father, I needed wisdom beyond head knowledge. I needed to focus on the “why” instead of the “what”.
Heart knowledge – Over the years, I also discovered that without heart knowledge, my daughters could not really relate with me despite my best intentions. My pastor used to say, “We can be sincere, but we can be sincerely wrong.” My wife also reminded me that I should instruct less and listen more, because the more I listened, the more it would go beyond facts and information, and I would begin to feel my children’s hearts.
On achievements – Whenever my children accomplish something significant, I would proudly say, “Good job!” or “Well done!”. When they didn’t do so well, I would say “It’s ok, try again.” Yet, I have always been careful not to put too much emphasis on their achievements. I have learned that what matters more is to be with them throughout the process, be it success or failure. Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” To be able to impart such virtue on them would itself be a great achievement.
Growing relationship – Last year, my eldest daughter gave me a handmade postcard for my birthday. She drew my car against a backdrop of a beautifully-painted sunset with the words, “My favourite memory with you – long talks while driving back home (or anywhere).” My second daughter once wrote me a prayer about being grateful for helping her overcome her fears. These words motivate me to be a better father and remind me that life is not just about bringing home the bacon.
Building trust – I have seen and heard of parents struggling with “wayward” children. I recognise that despite our best efforts of instilling God’s truth and values in them, our children are free to make their own choices – be it good or bad. Such a reality of life is sometimes hard to accept, but I find comfort in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” That is where my ultimate hope lies.
Having said all that, I have certainly not perfected the “art of fatherhood” (if that is even possible). However, I am not alone in this journey. I am thankful to my three fathers for their guidance:
My earthly father – He gave me considerable freedom at a very young age, and this has helped accelerate my personal growth and maturity. Because of that, I have learned not to take responsibilities lightly.
My father-in-law – His faithfulness as God’s servant is inspiring. He is now 81 years old, but he still helps out distributing Bibles through the Gideons International ministry which he joined in 1982.
My heavenly Father – If there is one word that defines my identity in Christ, it is that I am forgiven by God, my heavenly Father. His unconditional love has given me assurance that I can run to Abba Father anytime.
Likewise, my prayer is that we fathers grow to have a bigger HEART for our children and leave behind a godly legacy for them to pass on to their children and their children’s children.
Happy Father’s Day!
About the Author
Rudeen Chua is a lawyer and is married to Grace. They have three wonderful daughters. He is passionate about discipling men, and together with his wife, serve as premarital counselling (PMC) counsellors. He has a soft spot for underdogs, which explains his love for movies like ‘Cool Runnings’ and ‘A Few Good Men’.
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