The good father: so you're a father!

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So you're a father. You didn't really dream about becoming a father like your wife dreamed about becoming a mother. But when you loved the woman who is your wife, God smiled on you both and made your love fruitful. So now you have a son or daughter and you love him!

Looking back, it seems like it all just sort of happened. And now, holding this precious baby, you know you're not ready. I'll let you in on a secret every father knows: fatherhood is the only preparation for fatherhood. Ask your wife and she'll tell you childbirth is the only preparation for childbirth. After giving birth to our first, a little girl named Heather, my wife exclaimed, "Nothing we ever read or heard in our childbirth classes could ever have prepared me for that!" Trust me: the labor wasn't particularly bad and my wife is no vain princess.

So no, if you listen to all the teachers and social workers and parenthood experts who are know-it-alls, you aren't ready to be a father. According to them, every child should be born into the care of the child protective services who will assure that he never takes a ride...

in a car without being ensconced in an up-to-date car seat, he never is left alone in a high chair, his diaper is never wet for more than three minutes, he's never within a mile of peanuts or peanut butter, and he's certainly never abused by physical punishment.

Listening to them leaves you a quivering mess of fear. What if they find out you aren't ready to be a father? Will they take your son or daughter away? Will they shame you on the internet by placing your name on the Register of Pathetic Fathers?

Listen, don't give in to fear. Yes, you'll make mistakes—some of them pretty bad. But God placed your son or daughter in your home with you as his father and your beautiful wife as his mother—and God never makes mistakes. God intended you and your beautiful wife to raise this child. It's no mistake. Take comfort from the truth that when God commands, He gives us everything we need to obey. Pray for His help. Pray for His wisdom. Read His Word and follow it every every day as you lead your home, love your wife, and love and discipline your son or daughter.

God gave fatherhood to you. God gave you your wife and made your love fruitful. So don't take fatherhood for granted. There are many, many men who want children, but haven't been able to find a wife. There are many men who are married, but don't have children. If you can believe it, some of them don't have children because their wives don't want any. Isn't that a horror?

Have you thanked God for giving you this beautiful woman who is willing to turn away from the factories and offices where she could get paid, to the home where she depends on your provision and spend her days nursing her baby and changing his diapers? Never stop thanking God for this beautiful and godly mother. Her kind are getting exceedingly rare, today. Love her and never look at another woman. She is now the mother of your child. She has suffered unspoken indignities to present you with this little one and she deserves your lifelong gratitude and fidelity.

Beyond thanking your wife, though, thank God for your children. They're gifts He's given from His kindness to you and your beloved wife.

And believe it or not, you and your wife are God's kindness to your son or daughter. Think of it: God blessed your child by giving him a Christian father and mother. That's no small thing. God blessed him with a home in which a man will father him as he fixes his eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of his faith. This child will have the joy and peace of growing up in a home in which the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and life; in which the Bible is found to be sweeter than honey, and loved and obeyed.

Under God's Word and within the walls and love of this home, truth will prevail over relativism. The fear of God will prevail over the fear of man and peer pressure. Christmases won't be about Santa Claus and booze, but the Blessed Virgin Mary, strong and tender Joseph, a manger out behind the Inn, and Baby Jesus adored by the angels and shepherds. Thanksgiving will be about the Puritans and Plymouth Rock and kind Indians and a plentiful harvest and giving thanks to the Father of the Heavenly Lights from whom every good and perfect gift comes.

Your son or daughter could have been born into an Islamic home in Indonesia, a Hindu home in Thailand, or a godless secularist home in Germany or Seattle. Instead, God placed him under your authority after calling you and your wife to faith and repentance. Just as He chose you and your wife for your son or daughter, so God chose you for Himself and drew you, by the power of His Holy Spirit, to trust in the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ.

So now, your son or daughter will grow up with the Church of Jesus Christ as his first mother:

[God] has prescribed a way for us, though still far off, to draw near to him. [That way is the] church, into whose bosom God is pleased to gather his sons, not only that they may be nourished by her help and ministry as long as they are infants and children, but also that they may be guided by her motherly care until they mature and at last reach the goal of faith. “For what God has joined together, it is not lawful to put asunder,” so that, for those to whom He is Father the church may also be Mother.

Your wife will only be your son or daughter's second mother. Some day your child's mother will die and he will be left motherless, humanly speaking. But he won't be motherless, spiritually speaking. The church will live on from age to age and will continue as his mother until the moment of his death when, by God's decree, he is translated from this vale of tears to glory.

According to God's decree, the Bride of Christ is your son or daughter's spiritual mother. It is her calling to feed, discipline, teach, and love him. She will help you and your wife to raise him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Now you must mark this little one with the mark of initiation into her bosom. Take your little infant to the baptismal font and have him marked with the sign of God's Covenant people. Baptize him as a member of the Household of Faith. There at the baptismal font, take your vows to raise this precious one in faithful discipline, instruction, prayer, and love. Then listen as his Mother responds to your promises with Her own; listen as Her members promise to help you in this work of eternal importance.

The father who doesn't immediately take his infant to the Bride of Christ to have him marked as devoted to God the Father Almighty is unfit for his calling. If he doesn't believe in infant baptism, let him have his child dedicated. But regardless, mark him as belonging to His Heavenly Father and under the lifelong care of the Mother of All the Faithful:

They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

Now then, get to work. God has His covenant to fulfill through you:

For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him. (Genesis 18:19)

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!