I struggle from time to time with the concerns about my adequacy as a father and a husband. If you don't, you're either not one or the other or both or you're not paying attention because we all are sinners, inadequate to perfection. The other day I saw a man with kids and observed what he was teaching them, not by intent, but by example. His language was painful to hear in the presence of his children. He was not kind to them, constantly complaining about this or that. He wasn't kind to his wife. You get the idea. And it made me wonder, if my kids had grown up to mimic me, how well would they have gotten along in life?
It's amazing what we teach our kids by accident. They just see us in our daily behavior and they learn it. They learn that kids are not that important if Dad is more dedicated to work than to them. They learn that it's okay to be unkind to Mom if Dad isn't a fine example of tenderness and understanding to her. They learn that church is something to endure until they don't have to anymore if, while Dad may have gone every Sunday (and it's just worse if he didn't), he certainly wasn't much "into it". If church for Dad was something to endure rather than enjoy, they learned the same thing. They learn that honesty is not always the best policy if they watch Dad deceive friends and family for whatever reason. Dads mold their children's world and, in so doing, their children's character. And they do it without even trying. (Moms do it, too. As a father, I seem to have a focus on fathers.)
I wasn't trying to describe my life with my kids. Not the point. Each of us has our own failings and God certainly knows I have mine because, after all, Christ has paid for them. And it's good to know that I wasn't the only influence on those kids. There were other parents and other grandparents and other siblings and other friends. There was, above and over all, God at work. Taking human error and parental shortcomings along with all the other fragmented clay He had to work with, He formed out of my kids what He intended, "one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use" (Rom 9:21), so to speak. I was the one placed in the responsible position, but it was God who carried out His plan for my kids. I just want fathers to think, to pray, to seek the Lord, to pursue godliness, to love their wives and kids above every worldly thing from personal ego to cultural pressures. To get to the stage I'm at where kids are grown and out of the house and think, "Did I do that okay?" is the wrong time to ask. So ask yourself while they're still at home. What if they grew up to mimic you? Would that be a good thing?