I Don’t Know Anything About Being a Dad

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.

Maduro Rina More than 1 year ago

--Great post! I understand you completely.

I too don't have children, and have learned from other families of how they love their children and make sacrifices for them. And I'm also thinking that if someday I'll have children, how in the world am I going to make things work and how much I'll miss being able to go to every church activity, service, helping other ministries. I trust that God will show me the way!

I don't think it's selfishness, but the eagerness to keep doing God's work and still there having the desire for a family.

And I would also like to meet Matt & Michelle in person! God Bless you guys and the work that you're doing.

Nils Oberg More than 1 year ago

--I'm a bit disappointed in this post because I believe that it promotes the wrong idea, prevalent in our culture, that children are troublesome.  I'm not denying that being a father is challenging, and that raising kids increases our stress levels.  It can be hard.  Nevertheless, what we don't hear is the benefits of having children.  I will attempt to list a few, given that they are neglected in this post.

1) Children make us more Christlike.  We are selfish by nature but children are infinitely more so.  Guess who gets to grow up and become selfless?  We do and this process makes us more Christlike.  In the four years since having my first child I have grown so much.  Looking back four years, I feel that I was so immature.  Now I feel like a real man and that's courtesy of my children!

2) Children provide many, many intangible benefits.  No accomplishment at any job will give the satisfaction that "You're a good daddy" gives.  Few gifts are more meaningful than a precious hand outstretched, holding a drawing, saying "I made this for you."  Few things are more heartwarming that little arms around your feet.  There are few feelings more satisfying than knowing that the 30 minutes of involved, phone-off, playtime with your children made them feel so loved, so good, so happy.

3) Having children is in our DNA, it's part of who we are.  One of the vital components of the Master's design for marriage was raising children.

4) Who is going to take care of you when you are old?  Your dog?  Your siblings?  What if your wife has passed and you're the only one left in your family?  Who is going to visit you in the nursing home or assisted living facility?  The end of your life will be vastly richer if you have children.

I feel like so many selfish, selfish, selfish reasons are given for not having kids and that is not what God intended.  Children are truly a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward.  There are no rewards, no feelings, no satisfaction, nothing better than having children.

Chad Foster More than 1 year ago

--Great lesson! Do you find your circle full of dads that feel ill-equipped?