In Search of Greatness as a Father

Illustration of a man split down the middle: on one side he looks upset and is wearing a suit and holding a stack of money; on the other he is smiling and holding his baby

A buddy asked me to meet with a young father who was at a critical crossroad. As this father and I talked, I learned we had a lot in common. We both grew up without our fathers. We graduated from the same university. And we both got our girlfriends pregnant during our junior year of college. However, unlike me, who decided to marry and be a father to my child, this man was struggling to step up to his responsibility. He was tempted to abandon his child and the mother. He told me that he hoped to do "big things." A wife and a child would hold him back.

Many fathers believe they face a similar dilemma — care for a family or do great things in the world. This conversation prompted me to think about what being great really means.

Two definitions

Jesus told His disciples that if they wanted to be the greatest, they must be the servant of all. He said that when His disciples were willing to receive a lowly, vulnerable child, it was like welcoming Him (Mark 9:33-37).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Herod the Great built monuments to his "greatness" but was harsh with people, even killing three of his own children. For Herod, greatness was serving himself, not others.

Daily, two definitions of greatness are set before every father. If he chooses Herod's definition, he will be self-centered and prioritize his own needs above those of his children. If he defines greatness as Jesus did, he will be a self-sacrificing father who cares for the "little ones" whom God has entrusted to him.

Pursue greatness

Great fathers are physically and emotionally available. Kids are reassured of your love when you invest in them with your time. What comes to mind if you ask yourself, How can I be more involved in every aspect of my child's growth and development? The greatest dads also seek a strong relationship with God, pray daily for and with their children, and model the spiritual behavior they want to see.

So let me ask you the same question I asked that young father: What kind of greatness will you pursue today?

 Roland C. Warren is the author of Bad Dads of the Bible: 8 mistakes every good dad can avoid.

This article appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2014 by Roland C. Warren. Used by permission.

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