Any day now, my wife and I will welcome our first child into the world, our son. Over the past 9 months, I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions – from fear, stress, anxiety, inadequacy – to anticipation, excitement, joy, and hope.
There’s also this enormous weight of responsibility, of caring for another human being that’s completely dependent on you. But beyond the thought of just trying to keep this child alive, there’s another immense responsibility I feel.
It’s shaping the kind of man that my son will grow up into.
There are a million things I want to teach my son.
Though it’s years away, I can’t stop the thoughts racing through my mind of what I want to teach him when he’s 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years old, and if God willing, 30 years old and beyond.
There are so many mistakes I’ve made, and a few things I’ve done right, and I want to impart as much wisdom on him as possible so that he can make the best decisions possible and make the most out of his life.
I want to teach him to treat women with respect and equality. I want to teach him to work hard and do something he loves. I want to teach him to have empathy and compassion for others, especially those in need. I want to teach him to be an independent, critical thinker, yet be able to see and understand the perspectives of others. I want to teach him to be curious and explore. I want to teach him to be honorable and live with integrity.
And the list goes on and on.
As I thought through all these things, I realized I wouldn’t remember all of them. Many of them would just be taught through my life or as situations come up. And I don’t want to be so focused on trying to teach lessons that I miss out on a relationship with my son.
But I do want to be intentional about the man he becomes. So as I prepare to be a father to my son, Emerson, I’ve decided to focus on 3 things that I hope to instill into his character.
The 3 Things I want to Teach My Son
This comes out of a simple verse from the Bible, found in the book of Micah:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
– Micah 6:8
This simple sentence sums up the essence of living a beautiful and purposeful life, and if I can teach these to my son, I believe a lot of the other life lessons will fall into place.
So what does it it mean to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God?
1) Do Justice
I want to teach my son to treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve for simply being human and created in the image of God. Regardless of who they are or where they come from, I want him to look past their race, religion, nationality, class, sexuality, and see the intrinsic value of their humanity.
And I want to teach my son to fight. I want him to fight on behalf of those who are discriminated, marginalized and oppressed. I want him to fight to make the world a more just place for everyone, and especially the poor, the suffering, and the outcast.
I want to teach Emerson to do justice.
2) Love Kindness
I want to teach my son to value people above things and above himself. I want him to create time and space for others in his life. I want him to empathize with people and see the potential good in everyone. I want him have a genuine love for people, even and especially those who are different, who disagree, who oppose, and who are difficult to love.
And I want to teach my son that kindness is love in action. I want him to use his time, resources, energy, and talents to serve his others. I want him to sacrifice for the well-being of others. I want him to love when it is hard and forgive when it hurts. I want him to be more than just nice, but to be a source of life and community for others.
I want to teach Emerson to love kindness.
3) Walk Humbly With God
I want to teach my son to know his creator and be in relationship with him. I want him to know that God is here, and that God is good, even in the midst of all the wrong in this world. I want him to have far deeper connection to the Spirit of God than I do. I want his life to emulate and radiate with the life of Jesus. I want him to be in tune with God’s voice and move powerfully with him.
And I want to teach him to have his own faith and not mine. I want him to have questions and doubts about God, and to wrestle through them until he can find his own resolution. I want him to experience God for himself, and not just blindly follow in my belief. I want him hold firmly to his relationship with God with conviction, but to hold his knowledge about God in humility.
I want to teach Emerson to walk humbly with God.
But if I am to teach him these things, I have to live them out myself, and that’s where I will fail often. Yet I know that it’s ultimately God who will make up for my failures and his spirit that will burn brightly in the heart of my son. I can only hope to be a dim example of what that looks like and direct him to the source.
Emerson, my son, I’m am so excited to meet you and do life with you. Your mother and I already love you with everything we have. I hope to be the father that you deserve, and hope that you can forgive my failures.
May you do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God.