I’ve attended many school events like this before, but when the Summit Classical Academy Dads Day celebration opened and the administrator addressed the fathers in the room, I sensed God nudging my heart as if saying, “Son, pay attention. I’m speaking here. This is important.”
You are valued. You are loved. You are necessary.
And you play a key role in the lives of your children”.
Take a breath…
Read that again…
It is easy to acknowledge those words as true and then quickly move on to the next thing, but in a world where the role of the father has been so minimized and ridiculed, it is important to stop for a moment, explore them and let them sink in.
While the media portrays fathers as unimportant and expendable, God has called us to play a crucial, irreplaceable role in the lives of our children. In fact, the mission assigned to us by God on their behalf is far larger and more dangerous than we ever imagined.
You see, we live in a world at war. I don’t mean the current conflicts between nations, the social unrest or the climate of division and hatred that we see everywhere in the news and in social media. The war that I’m referring to is greater and exponentially more vicious. I’m talking about the battle for the human heart.
In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon, the wisest man to ever live (besides Jesus) warns us saying:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Other translations say “for from it flow the springs of life”. What Solomon is trying to share with us is that our hearts are the greatest treasure God gave us when he created us. Everything— our dreams and passions, our calling and gifting, our relationships, our walk with God– all of this and more flow from the depths of our hearts. It is in our hearts that Jesus comes to dwell and it is from our hearts that we get to care and love and bring God’s goodness into this world.
But we live far from Eden, and the reason Solomon pleads with us to guard our hearts is because they are, just like our children’s, under constant assault. That’s why when Jesus describes what he wants to offer us in John 10:10, he also warns us about the context of our days:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
You see, Jesus deeply desires to give our children abundant life. But just like us, they have an enemy whose intention is to steal, kill and destroy their hearts and their lives both now and in the future. Our children are at the center of a clash between two kingdoms and in order for them to be trained “in the way that they should go” (Prov. 22:6), flourish and become the men and women that God created them to be, we’re going to have to fight bravely for their hearts. And because of that, we have been entrusted by God with far more power than we have come to believe.
As fathers, we have the power to shape and form the hearts of our children and set them free to become who God created them to be by answering the core questions that they carry in their hearts since they were born, and by discovering and affirming their true God-given identity and releasing them to live from it.
Every boy and every girl has, at the level of the heart, two core needs. First, a longing to know without a shadow of doubt that they are deeply and unconditionally loved by their fathers. And second, a deep need to be validated and delighted in, by their fathers. I see the need for validation in my oldest son when he shows me his latest jiu-jitsu lock, or in my youngest when he jumps from the top of the stairs with arms wide-open waiting for me to catch him. “Did you see that, dad?” “Yes, I saw it! You are amazing! You are wild! You’re the real deal!” I also see the need for delight in my friend’s daughters when they go with him on adventures or come to him wearing their newest dresses and twirl right in front of him. Their hearts are calling out, “Do you see me? Do you love me? Do you delight in me? Is what you see good?” “Yes, honey, I love you with all my heart, you are beautiful and smart and amazing and I delight in you!”
We even see this in the life of Jesus! When he goes down into the Jordan river to be baptized by his cousin John, God the Father breaks protocol and outloud, in front of everyone says: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17). You see? Love and Validation. “I love you and I’m proud of who you are!” And all of this took place before Jesus began his ministry. The love and validation of his father didn’t come as a result of his miracles, his medals or his report card. It came unconditionally. Simply because he is his son. It was this message that Jesus began to live from. It was this message that grounded him in the truth and allowed him to defeat his enemy during his fast in the desert, when the enemy tried to make him fall. “If you are the son of God…” (Matt. 4:7).
That is our primary mission. To answer our children’s core questions with a huge yes in a thousand different ways with both our words and actions throughout their childhood, and to speak into them their true, God-given identity so that this is the message that they live from as they grow, instead of the one that they will constantly hear from their enemy, the “father of lies” (John 8:44), through the people and the circumstances that they’ll face in this world.
The message from the school is correct: As fathers, we do play a key role in the lives of our children. One that I’m hoping to play better every day.
Last week I left Summit’s Dad’s Day celebration with a medal around my neck, my hands filled with gifts from my son in celebration of my role as his dad, and my heart filled with joy. I know that my children will need much more than just my words and actions, and I am deeply grateful that I get to be a part of a school and a community that acknowledges and celebrates the role that we play as fathers, that also understands the core needs of our children’s hearts, and that is willing to partner with us and our families in this beautiful mission of fighting for the hearts of our children. I am eternally thankful to God for Summit Classical Academy.
By Pablo Ceron, SCA Parent, Co-Founder, and President of WILDSONS