Being a dad is great. Words can't explain the joy you feel while holding your baby boy. It's like someone is opening new doors in your heart that you never knew existed and you're having a blast exploring the different rooms.
However there are a lot of fears that come with being a dad. There are paranoid fears over his health ("will he be ok?"). There are self-doubting fears over his upbringing ("will I do a good job?"). There are superficial fears over his looks ("will he get a prom date?").
But as scary as those thoughts are, I actually have a greater worry that surpasses all those fears.
My Greatest Fear as a Dad
To be honest, the greatest fear I have as a new dad is that I'll turn into an idolator - and the idol will be my son. I'm not saying this to sound all spiritual. I genuinely worry about this because of what I tend to see.
From my observation, a lot of dads put their spiritual growth on hold during the first 1-5 years of their child's life. Devotionals stop. Service in church ceases. Attention spans for sermons wane. Sure dads will still attend church - but it's all about the kids now. Personal discipleship though has ended & is easily justified ("I'm a dad now...").
I don't mean to say this in a condemning way. I'm saying this because I now feel like I understand this temptation. Having a baby is tiresome. Doctor appts happen. Late nights are routine. Little league comes up. Piano lessons are inevitable (esp. for Asians). You want what's best for you child so you're tempted to revolve everything around him. In other words, he becomes an idol.
Why I Fear This
This is my greatest fear as a dad because I think this is the worst thing I can ever do for my son. I truly believe my relationship with God will have a greater influence on him than any little league game or piano lesson or fishing trip ever can.
Of course I want my son to experience sports and music and the great outdoors and provide him memories with his old man. But even more than that, I'd want him to know the Lord and see how we - including his old man - desperately need Him in our lives.
But how can this happen unless I'm really walking with the Lord in my life? Ironically, the one thing that can prevent me from influencing my son this way is my son - more specifically if the love I have for my son overshadows the love I have for Christ.
A Different Way
I call this a "fear I have" rather than a "fate I'm destined to" though because from what I see, not every dad turns out like this. There are some dads who are just as busy and in love with their sons - but they still prioritize their walk with the Lord. They're not just trying to be good dads learning tips about fatherhood but they're trying to be faithful disciples growing in their knowledge of Christ.
Of course there's the flip side. I know of many 1st generation Asian parents who make their kids hate God and the church due to the parent's over-involvement of the church and neglect of the home.
But I think my generation struggles with the opposite problem. While our Christian parents may have missed most of our ball games for church activities, I sense parents today will miss most church activities for our children's ball games. It's almost as if we're overcompensating for our past experiences.
I hope to avoid both extremes. Hopefully my son will know I love him and will be there for him. But I also hope my son will know the love of the Lord and how He'll be there for him - far greater than I ever could. This starts with me though walking closely with Him and I think this is the best thing I can ever do for my son.
"But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh 24:15)