Rite of Passage Parenting: Like father, like son
My son has just left his position as associate pastor to lead a life of faith by raising his own support and beginning a new church plant. He has a burden for a unique and ever-growing unreached people group in America: the tattoo generation of bikers and people who would feel uncomfortable in most churches. After much prayer, he gave his resignation and began his new ministry this past week. I can’t say too much about him leaving a wonderful church and secure paycheck to follow God. After all, he watched his father do the same thing.
Eighteen years ago, I had just turned 40 when I felt God calling me to leave the local church and set about the task of raising up the next generation of missionaries. I had to make sure I was hearing God’s voice and not my own. After much prayer, I resigned a church I loved and began a journey of trusting God in fresh ways. Now, my son is beginning a similar adventure.
As a father, I was concerned about how he planned to take care of his responsibilities. Deep into our “What were you thinking?” discussion, he reminded me of an incident that happened when I began my own journey. Our funds were getting low and would soon be depleted. When I figured up what it would take to pay our bills and operate in the black for the month, the total came to somewhere around $1,000.
I have patterned most of my ministry after that of George Mueller, a man of faith. He believed God’s Holy Word plus prayer equaled God’s supernatural provision. He wrote “Tell not man, but God your needs.” He took those needs to God and shared many miraculous stories of how He provided.
I went to the Scriptures and began reading God’s promises to His children: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it (John 14:13, 14). “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26). “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
After lunch, I gathered my wife and two young sons around the table and told them we needed to ask God to provide $1,000. We bowed our heads and prayed. There was no lying prostrate on the floor, no river of tears—just a mom, a dad and two little boys placing a request at their heavenly Father’s feet.
When we finished, my youngest son asked if he could go outside and play. As he was opening the front door, he saw something. He yelled, “Dad, somebody taped an envelope to the front door.”
Thinking it was probably an advertisement for lawn care or tree-trimming, I told him, “Just bring it to me.” When he handed me the envelope, I knew it wasn’t an ad because it had been mailed to my old address and returned. Now, someone had hand-delivered it.
I opened the envelope and inside was a check for . . . $1,000! I called my family back to the table and showed them what God had done. His generosity overwhelmed me. My youngest son had only one question: Why hadn’t I prayed for $5,000? I had to laugh, but I knew God wanted me to ask for what I needed, not what I wanted. Today, I can tell you story after story of how God has provided over these 18 years.
God didn’t instruct us to pray for a bakery but He did say, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). The son who once said he never wanted to be like his dad is now following in my footsteps. I am excited and nervous all at once. I asked him the other day, “What do you really want?” He told me he wants to have one more story than his dad—a story of what great things God has done.
Do you have stories that show God’s power in your life? Make sure to share them with your children. One day, your story may become . . . theirs.