Some men feel inadequate in their role as a father, so they withdraw and leave it to their wife to carry the load. Some men feel totally adequate in and of themselves to handle the upbringing of their children.“I got this,” they say to themselves before prayerlessly entering a room to shepherd their teen in some complex matter of the heart. I have done exactly this, and shortly thereafter I have fled from my child’s bedroom like one of the seven sons of Sceva, overwhelmed by a situation I thought I was competent to handle. As much as you, I need the following reminders.
No one is adequate for such a task
We truly are inadequate as dads. Raising children is impossibly hard and requires a thousand miracles that we cannot perform. Yes, our children are born bearing the image of God, yet Satan blinds them to the glory of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:4). David says,“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Our sin-broken children come to us with the same warning label, and to us God gives the task of training them toward Christ. No one is adequate for such a task.
We should confess our inadequacy. As a spiritual father to many (1 Corinthians 4:15), Paul engaged in the business of preaching the gospel to spiritually dead people and calling them to faith in Christ, just as we do with our own children. Yet how can dead people believe in Christ and experience salvation? Even after experiencing the miracle of regeneration, Paul’s spiritual children still stood in need of a thousand more miracles to reach maturity. Consequently, Paul ponders his ministry and finds himself asking,“Who is adequate for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16 NASB). A few verses later he looks within himself and says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 3:5 NASB). Men do not easily confess to feelings of inadequacy, but Paul does so, and every father should join him in his confession.
We should count on our adequacy in God. Wonderfully, Paul does not stop with confessing his inadequacy, but goes on to say,“our adequacy is from God, who . . . made us adequate” (2 Corinthians 3:5–6 NASB). Paul had the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to help him in his ministry, and he also had “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” in his heart to deliver to others (2 Corinthians 4:4–6). Paul’s confidence in such overwhelming provision explains his eager willingness to engage in the very ministry he felt so personally inadequate in doing.
We would often rather stay safely inside our ‘adequacy zone’
We often do the opposite. We hate feeling inadequate so much that we avoid doing things which make us feel that way. We prefer instead to busy ourselves with tasks that we feel adequate in performing. Our wife is crying out for our help and our children are starving for godly male leadership in the home, yet what do we do? We occupy ourselves with work (because we feel adequate in our profession), we work on our car (if we feel adequate doing that), we go golfing with the guys (if we feel adequate doing that), we watch TV (because it asks nothing of us), or we do any number of things that lie safely inside our “adequacy zone.” As for me, I have mowed my lawn twice in a row on a few occasions, admiring the straightness of my mowing lines, while inside the house my leadership was desperately needed.
God stands ready to do His greatest miracles inside our greatest inadequacies
Meanwhile, the triune God waits for us inside those very areas we avoid, and He stands ready to do His greatest miracles there. So if you feel inadequate in your role as a dad, that’s okay. In fact, that’s wonderful. Now look to God. Find your adequacy in Him, and throw yourself into the good work of fathering your children.
Let the gospel remind you of the One Who makes you adequate.
(Written by Milton Vincent, from Gospel Meditations for Fathers, a 31-day devotional by Chris Anderson, Joe Tyrpak, Dave Doran, and Milton Vincent, intended to give biblical instruction and encouragement to dads of all ages, at all stages.)