The most significant relationships in my life are my relationship with my wife and the relationships I have with each of my children. They are significant because of their depth, but also because of the God-given responsibility tied to each of them. As a husband, I am called to love my wife as Christ has loved His Bride and to wash her with the water of the Word, so that I might present her to Christ as pure and spotless (Eph. 5:25-27). And as a father, I am called to bring my children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4); to put before them the mighty deeds of God and point them to Jesus. Beyond my own personal responsibility to my family, as a pastor I am called to be a godly example in these realms and to call husbands and fathers to rise to the challenge given us in Scripture. There is joy but also soberness tied to all of these roles in my life, and I am constantly seeking to grow in my understanding of God’s calling on my life as a man.

I recently read through Mark Driscoll’s
Pastor Dad with a member of our church and found it to be a good resource in reminding me of these responsibilities I have been given, calling me to something beyond “surviving” fatherhood. For those familiar with Driscoll’s preaching style, the book follows the same vein of blunt and pithy commentary centered on God’s Word, which makes sense, given that it is the edited transcript of a message he preached at his church. The way he teaches is not for everyone, but I usually appreciate a timely bare-knuckled gut check, and Driscoll consistently delivers that. His almost patented rebuke of young men is also present and needed. And while he leaves little room for argument, his words provide significant fodder for discussion and much encouragement towards godly fatherhood.

As I reflect on Pastor Dad, which can easily be read in one or two sittings, certain encouragements that I needed come immediately to mind:

  • Focus on the future. Scripture points us as fathers to think beyond on own children to our grandchildren, and calls us to be an example in the present so that future generations will worship the God we do. My focus is often on getting through each day, or maybe the week, but I am called to consider how what I do now will cause my grandchildren to love Jesus.
  • Read and Memorize the Proverbs. Of the Scriptures cited in this small book, I’d estimate that 90% of them are from the book of Proverbs, and there is so much wisdom to be found there! I am encouraged afresh to read and memorize portions of this book of wisdom.
  • Delight in and Enjoy Your Kids. This is the lesson that rings most clearly in my ears. Before I can correct, protect, or lead my children, I must first find joy in them. I learned during the summer that I was a camp counselor that my personality will most often err on the side of discipline rather than grace. There is certainly a place for correction, and the book is clear on that, but I recognized in reading this book that I need to intentionally enjoy the time I spend with my kids. They are a blessing, not a burden, and I need to cultivate a spirit of joy and laughter in my home.
  • Bear the Name of Father Well. Driscoll sums this up well: “One of the highest compliments anyone has ever paid me came from my daughter Ashley, who at the age of four told me, ‘I’m very lucky to have two daddies. You are my daddy and God is my daddy.’ When she said that, I was struck by the incredible privilege of sharing the very honorable title of ‘father’ with God in the mind of my little girl. When God shares his name with us, it is a sacred matter that we must take very seriously.”

So read it online or print the pdf or order a copy and be challenged by this short book. May we fathers who name the name of Christ represent our heavenly Father well in the way we lead our families.