A year ago, a friend of mine on Twitter – who I knew and trusted in real life – told me I needed to go follow a guy named Matt Brown. I put a lot of stock into the advice of my closest friends so I went and checked out Matt’s profile. The first thing I noticed was this perfectly gleaming smile in Matt’s profile picture. I hate to admit it but I thought, “This guy can’t be for real”.
So, I dug a little deeper and committed to following him for a month. I got hooked into his commitment to the Gospel and his willingness to shine the light on others who were doing good. But creating a mask, hiding your true personality, online is common. This summer I had a chance to meet Matt in person. And goshdarnit, he greeted me with that infectious smile and over the next few days confirmed what I learned to be true just by following his online personality – his joyful and caring nature is as real as it can be.
Matt Brown is an evangelist, author, and founder of Think Eternity. He and his wife Michelle are impacting thousands of people with the gospel each year through live events and online ministry. They also engage with over 150,000 people on social media on a near-daily basis. You can follow him @evangelistmatt.
I Don’t Know Anything About Being a Dad
By Matt Brown
My wife Michelle and I have been very happily married for eight, going on fifty years. We met near the end of high school, and quickly fell in love. We dated for a few years while both attending a small Bible college in Minneapolis.
We don’t have any kids yet, but we do hope to eventually. Initially, we were afraid of the commitment it takes while we also pursue our careers and our calling from God to evangelistic ministry.
Many of our friends have had multiple kids already, and we’ve felt firsthand the effects of how children can change everything:
- How little parents are able to hang out.
- How little parents are able to communicate with each other and have adult-conversation that doesn’t refer to poopy diapers and children’s attempts at making friends at daycare.
- The sacrifices parenting takes on job opportunities.
- The exhaustion level and noise level increase, and attention level decrease that comes from being a parent of a child.
So when it comes to sharing about raising kids, I don’t know anything yet about being a good dad.
Or maybe I do.
My wife’s family is incredibly tight-knit. I still remember the day when one of her cousins passed away in a motorcycle accident and the family gathered and wept together over the tragedy and how much we would miss him. He was the life of the party.
A few months ago, Michelle’s grandpa also went to be with Jesus, and it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. Many of us extended relatives, kids, grandkids and in-laws were together in the house when his spirit left his body. His wife Shirley, grabbed our hands as we gathered around his body, and she prayed such a powerful prayer for us and future generations: that God would save us from this wicked generation and draw us to Himself and His purposes for our lives. It was a holy moment that I will never forget.
Grandpa and Grandma Denyes both have such unique stories: they immigrated from Winnipeg in Canada and first traveled to the US by way of Northern Missouri, where the job they had been promised folded before they even arrived. Between several jobs, they served as Pastors of a church as well.
Eventually, they moved their young family up to a small suburb of Minneapolis, where they took a church of a few families meeting in a basement of a home. This church, eventually called Emmanuel, grew to thousands of families over their four decades of leadership. My father in law took the church over the last decade and has now passed it on to a successor. Together Mark and Dwight led the church for a half-century.
Even more amazing, both Mark and Shirley both came from shattered homes and dysfunctional upbringings.
Somehow, as they clung to the Lord, they were able to built a family culture that, although far from perfect, is beautiful and spectacular in so many ways. They’ve shown me that it doesn’t matter where you come from, or how capable you feel, with God’s enablement and the Bible as a guide, you can leave a legacy that brings blessings to many generations to come.
My parents have shown the same grace in so many ways. Raising me and my three brothers, again not with perfection, but doing the best they can in the Lord – they’ve set a pattern that is brilliant in comparison with so many of the stories I’ve know otherwise.
Several of my brothers are now on this journey of raising their children, and are showing me a true example of how to pour out love on their kids.
So, maybe I do know something about being a dad. Even though we don’t have this privilege and responsibility yet ourselves, we actually are far more prepared than I would‘ve ever imagined.
No matter where a dad starts from, in his own upbringing, by dependency on God’s Word and God’s daily grace and power, any dad can build a legacy that blesses many generations to come.
Proverbs 10:7: The memory of the righteous is blessed.
Psalm 37:25: I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.