In Part 1, we started talking about our role as dads as heart-shapers of our sons and what we are trusting in as tools to shape and mold the hearts of our sons. We talked about the failure of the “pull-up-your-bootstraps” approach and the tactic of the ever-popular manipulative guilt trip. These are great forms of behavior modification that we can use to gain situational relief, and therefore make our own lives easier, but these tools won’t shape and mold a heart. So what we are left with as a resource of heart transformation?
In Galatians 3:1-3, Paul is beside himself trying to figure how the Christ-followers in Galatia have screwed it up. They are more than willing to admit that the Holy Spirit was necessary for them to become Christians, but somehow they have made the mistake of thinking that they were the primary agent of change when it came to their growth as Christians. Galatians 3:1–3 (ESV):
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Paul goes on to explain that it is the Gospel (the life, death, resurrection, and return of Christ) that holds the key, not just to initial change, but all the transformation that will happen in life. As a dad, this means that the key to my son growing in his selfishness, is not me beating him over the head with what he should do, but showing him what he is not believing about the Gospel, that if he were to believe it, he would be more selfless. The key to my son growing in courage, boldness, kindness, love, thankfulness is not me placing some huge guilt trip on him and shaming him into acting the right way, it is showing him the truths of the gospel, showing him what it means to be an adopted son of God and co-heir with Christ, and praying that the Spirit would use that truth to transform his heart. Notice, I am not advocating some sort of free-grace, no responsibility type of position. We have an obligation. We have a duty. But we need to remember that it is the Spirit who is the agent of change and we are simply a tool in his hand.
So dad, how have you been a tool today in the hand of the Spirit to transform your son’s life? In what ways have you exposed your son or daughter to the truths of the Gospel with the hope and prayer that their hearts would be transformed as He convinces their hearts more of this Gospel truth?
Now, if you are reading this and feeling tinges of guilt or a building resolve to “do a better job” as a dad in this way, know that all of the above applies to us as dads as well. The first step in rightly transforming the hearts of our sons is our own rightly motivated transformation… not actions motivated by guilt or mental resolve, but praying that the Spirit would raise up in you a desire to see the truth of the Gospel transform your son. This is our joyful duty and hope as dads; that we, and our families, would be transformed by the truth of Jesus Christ. This is my trust and confidence!