“He’s the proud father of a new baby girl.”
This is the sort of thing we often say of the father when a baby is born. And it is not a bad thing to say about the father of a newborn when by it we mean that he has great joy in his child as a gift of God, and that he is eager to share his joy by talking about the children and showing pictures of them to his friends.
But a father’s pride in a child is not a good thing when it is pride in himself, or when he looks at his newborn baby as an achievement of his own rather than as a gift of God.
A father’s sinful pride in his son or daughter is like any other sin. If it is not recognized as a sin and not repented of, it will lead to any number of evil consequences.
A proud father may become an indulgent father, failing to do the hard and sometimes unpleasant work of discipline lest he hurt his daughter’s feelings or have to endure her tears.
A proud father may try to make his son into a carbon copy of himself rather than recognizing the son’s gifts and personality which may be quite different from his own.
A proud father may push his children to achieve success in school or career, not to encourage good stewardship but so that the father can point with pride to his child’s success: “My daughter graduated first in her class”; “My son is a successful lawyer.”
A High Responsibility
The Lord’s Word teaches fathers to be humble: “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
God would have us recognize that our children come from Him. He would have us see each of them not just as a delightful gift but especially as a high responsibility entrusted to us.
Our children are here not just to fulfill our hopes and dreams. They are first of all God’s children bought with the blood of Christ and brought into God’s family through baptism.
Furthermore, being humble does not mean that we fathers are afraid to use parental authority to discipline and correct. We understand that our children need discipline. And we understand that our authority over our children is God-given, so it is not something we can surrender.
But our understanding that it is God-given restrains us from abusing this authority by undue harshness (perhaps when we are angry or frustrated?). We know that we are accountable to God for the way that we deal with our children.
Our saving knowledge of God and our faith in Him as our Savior shape our thinking about our children and our role as fathers.
As believers we recognize that we are sinners in need of God’s grace in Christ. Therefore we see our children as undeserved gifts from a gracious God. We see that we need God’s help to fulfill our responsibilities as parents and we need His forgiveness when we fail.
We also want to reflect the love of a heavenly Father in the way we treat our children. God loved us when we were still unbelieving sinners, sending His Son to redeem us. We are not worthy of being His children, yet He does not disown us but forgives us for Jesus’ sake and still calls us His chidlren.
We reflect this love of God when we parents–in humility as forgiven sinners–forgive our children the sins they commit against us.
–Pastor John Klatt