Your most important job

Parenting
by Bill Newton

Posted on Saturday, March 7, 2015, at 9:12 am

He sat in the booth in front of me wearing a multicolored tie-dyed shirt. His head was shaved, tattoos covered most of his right arm and halfway up his neck, and his earlobes had black plugs in them the size of small corks. But what struck me the most about him was his attentiveness to his young son sitting next to him. Carefully he placed the lad’s napkin in his lap, patiently unwrapped the Egg McMuffin, pulled the hash browns out their paper wrapper, and helped the child’s tiny fingers find the hole for the straw in the juice box.

As most tots do, the young boy dropped some food, and Dad discretely coached his charge in the proper way to deal with such accidents. Affectionately, the child beamed up at his father and the two conversed about all manner of things I couldn’t intrude upon. As they left I complimented the boy on his orange and blue jacket, which I surmised represented his allegiance to the Denver Broncos. Politely and demurely, the lad informed me he was a New England Patriots fan, but he thanked me for the compliment. As he reached to take his daddy’s hand, his father instructed him to bid me a good day, which he did with a compliant grin across his tiny face as they left.

This father reminded me that next to a relationship to God, and to a spouse, the most important priority is to shepherd a child’s heart toward God. Your job comes after that—even church work. This dad was shepherding his child’s mind and heart in the mundane course of a breakfast at McDonald’s. By his example and words he was showing his son what it meant to be a godly man.

It’s easy to lose sight of this priority for a father under the pressures of everyday life in the workplace: There are assignments to finish and never enough time, competitions for promotions/raises, meetings to attend, and after-hours projects to squeeze in—all this in the context of family, church, leisure, fitness, nutrition, charity, service, staying up on current affairs, planes to catch, planning for retirement, bills to pay. The list is exhausting.

Children can be born today and if you’re not careful gone tomorrow. Promotions may come, but the shepherding can be neglected—maybe not from a lack of desire, but from not prioritizing purposefully.

There’s no more important job for any parent than discipling their children and shepherding their hearts toward Jesus Christ. There’s no job that seems to proceed at the same time so slowly and yet so fast. There’s no job so easy to procrastinate. There’s no job so difficult. But there’s no job so rewarding.

Bill Newton

Bill is a pastor based in Asheville, N.C. He also serves as a member of God's World Publications' board of directors.

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