Today marks the ninth trip around the sun for the little boy who carries the last name that I inherited from my father on to the next generation. I want to instill the following things in his life as he prepares to take on the world as a man some day soon.
I inherited some things from my own father that I would like to pass on to my only son. My dad was my hero as I was growing up. He did many things that I have come to appreciate greatly over the years. My dad had a kind heart. He never met a stranger and he would open his home to anyone. You could always count on some great advice over a hot meal or a cup of coffee. I watched my dad love on my friends and neighbors just as much as he loved on me. My dad was a man of few words, although, when he spoke, he imparted wisdom. He was an example in his actions more than he was in the words that he spoke. As I think back on my life at home with my dad, the Apostle Paul’s words ring in my ears. He wrote a letter to a church in the ancient city of Corinth. He dealt a lot with the subject of manhood.
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (I Corinthians 16:13)
My dad was gentle by nature but, that did not mean that he was not strong. To me, as a child, my dad was the real superman. I watched superman on t.v. but I knew that what was presented was not reality. Reality was my dad, acting like a man. He rose early every morning to go to a job and work hard all day. He came home to his real passion, his family. My dad taught my brothers and me how to act like men by spending time with us, showing us how a man was to love his wife and children. Part of that love involved him driving one way to work for over an hour, working hard all day, and then coming home to play ball in the yard with his boys. Or, he would come home and take us to one of the many ball practices and games that we had. I had no idea at the time what it meant to come home exhausted and then knuckle up (as we say) to expend his reserves of energy on us. He put our needs, wants, and desires above his own and I never heard him once complain of being too tired to do things with us. My dad understood how children spell the word love, T-I-M-E. He showed us love by spending time with us. He never complained about reading the story of the Three little pigs and the big, bad wolf for the millionth time. Even though we could not yet read, we would tell the story on a certain page because of the pictures and the sheer number of times that he had read the same story to us. My dad loved my mother with an undying love. Never once did I hear him speak to my mother or about my mother in a negative way. One of the key phrases that my dad would share with us was, “son, if you start something, you better finish it“. He did not just tell us that, he demonstrated it each and every day. These are some of the things that I want my son to learn from me and carry on to generations of people whom I will never meet.
I want my son to grow up to be a man of God. I desire to teach him through theory and practice to live out the greatest commandment in the Bible:
29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12)
I want my son to see a love for the Lord in me, a love that impacts everything that I do and say, as well as my attitude. I want my son to see me love my neighbor as myself. I want my son to want to bring his friends over to my house to experience the love of God. I want to teach my son to serve his fellow man the way that the Lord Jesus Christ has served humanity, through sacrifice and service.
Once my son is his own man, I want to be able to tell him what the Apostle Paul said to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy:
10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,
11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me!
12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (II Timothy 3)
I love the way that the Apostle Paul wrote lists. They are easy to follow and connect the dots. Paul begins his list with the most important, the teaching, and then moves to the next, conduct. The conduct leads to the next, purpose in life, which builds faith etc. I want to teach my son to love his family by loving his wife the way that Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. I want my son to be a servant leader to his family. I want the Word of God to set the course for his lifestyle and his goals in life. I pray that God will raise my son up as a missionary who is a disciple making machine for the glory of God. I want him to view the world through the prism of the Great Commission:
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28)
I want my son and his future family to be a blessing to many, many people by dedicating his life and the purpose of his family to making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Her children rise up and bless her . . . (Proverbs 31:28)
I want my son to grow up to be a blessing for his mother and to his mother by his attitude, actions, and words because he will be the same for his future wife.
My desire for Emmanuel is that he will one day stand at the end of his life and be able to echo the words of the Apostle Paul:
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (II Timothy 4)
Emmanuel, as you mature into a man, I hope that you will read these words one day and that they will bring a smile to your face and maybe even a tear to your eye. One day in the future, when you have to face this world without me, the same way that I have had to face the world without my dad, I hope these words will bring you comfort and joy, as well as encourage you to continue on impacting the next generations the same way that my daddy impacted me. Hopefully, this is the same way that I have impacted you. I love you son, with all of my heart and I pray to be the man of God that I want you to become. I want you to know that as I write this, I have tears in my own eyes, thinking about the past and looking forward to the future. I am preparing you to carry my daddy’s name into the future. I have lived to make him proud as I pray that you will live to make me proud. Just know that you already do make me proud of you.