Intentional Fathering

Every New Year brings with it new plans, new hope and possibly new goals. These apply to me as well and what has been resonating in my heart and mind is that of a renewed hope to do better in my role as a father to my children. Important as they may be, the roles I perform at work and ministry pale in comparison to familial ones.

As I evaluated and reflected on my own performance as a father, I found myself wanting on two fronts. The first is that of decision-making. Strange as it may sound, other fathers may relate to my ‘doing without deciding how well I want to do it’ – we just do. Does that ring a bell? I recall my primary school principal writing this phrase in my report book “Make up your mind to do well”. For some reason, that phrase gripped me, even bothered me, enough for me to ponder over that for years. I oft wondered within myself why she wrote that and if she deemed that I was inconsistent with my school results. Yes, I fluctuated in my results but I was always in the upper 1/3 of the class. Was not that good enough? Apparently not. . .

Even now, especially with tasks and responsibilities that do not have documented KPIs, it is very easy to lull oneself into a cruising mode and not really going anywhere. Towards the end of 2014 when I took stock of what and how I have been with my children, ‘Make up your mind to do well’ surfaced again. This time, it convicted me. I remember a scene from the movie ‘Courageous’ where the lead role resoundingly said that he did not want to be just a good enough father. He wanted to do well. His mind was made up, and I should follow suit.

Secondly, after making up one’s mind to do well, what’s next? Someone once very crudely said that the pathway to destruction (even hell) is paved with good intentions. Intentions which were just that and were never translated into reality. This is where plans, time and action come in. After making up my mind, to make plans, make time, and then to make them happen. This brings to mind ‘Intentional Disciple-making’. Many of us probably have heard of that but what about ‘Intentional Fathering’?

For years, the tendency has been to let things happen, simply flowing along and doing the fathering as the situations came along. But what jolted me to my senses and by whom? By none other than my own children and my wife, who gave feedback. My children were raving about what another father did and I have also witnessed firsthand the engagement and the rapport that came with that process. Not just once but on several occasions. Also, My wife’s mentioning of some other fathers and what they do with their children made me pensive and reflective. I had to make up my mind and act, ultimately for the good of my own children.

We cannot hope for the past for that is already gone. We can only have hope for the future by making up our minds and being intentional in the here and now. I rejoice that we have our Heavenly Father as the ultimate example and role model and that He is also very keenly interested in our fathering. Besides the explicit word in the Bible, the Lord speaks if we hear. Once, I got so mad with my son that I left him to walk to school by himself (school was a 5 minute walk from home). My heart turned away and told myself I could care less about what happened to him on the way. The Lord spoke to me “Set not your heart on His destruction”. I repented and told myself that it will not be repeated. Today, I make up my mind – to do well, to make plans, make time and to act. Fathers, would you join me?

Andrew David Wong is an Occupational Therapist by profession. He serves in both the Men’s & Equipping MInistries in church. Andrew is married to Joanna and they have two beautiful children, Liesl & Benedict.

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