There seems to be a common pattern all young men go through when it comes to their dad. It doesn’t matter how good your dad was. If you had a dad growing up, this pattern might be familiar.
The first phase is the Superman Phase. Young boys on the playground get into the familiar rivalry of why their dad could beat up your dad and vice versa. I’ve never heard a boy sadly admit that his dad would lose a fight. After all, in his eyes, his dad is Superman, and nothing can hurt him.
As the years go by, a young boy realizes his dad isn’t Superman, and he begins to resent the human weakness he sees in his old man. “My dad is superman” man turns into, “I know better than you.” This is the phase where a dad becomes annoying to his young son, when he offers any advice or wisdom. Both get frustrated at each other because both think the other doesn’t know anything about real life.
When the turbulent teenage years have passed, and the young man is now a dad himself, there is a new phrase that starts to come out of this mouth on a regular basis. He starts to say things like, “My dad always said…” or “My dad taught me to….” This is the moment when the two have the chance to become really close. The son realizes that the father was right all along, and he sees his own weakness and is humble enough to seek help.
These patterns are not just part of our physical life; they are also part of our spiritual life. My boys are young right now, and whenever they talk about who the greatest superhero is, there is always someone stronger than the Hulk and faster than the Flash, and that’s Jesus.
To them Jesus is a superhero. He can do anything, and they love imagining just how strong and wise Jesus is. But I’m aware soon their ego will kick in, and they will start to question the wisdom of Scripture. They might even mock one day the God they currently love. This breaks my heart, but I know there is always hope that they will embrace the next phrase and start to say things like, “Jesus says…”
A father is most blessed when a son wants to be like his father because his father has fought hard to become like Christ. I routinely say things like, “My dad says…” He isn’t always right in what he says, but I trust his mistakes more than I trust my own. We both want to grow up to be like our Heavenly Father. I recently published my first book, and my dad wanted me to sign the inside of it for him. It didn’t take long for me to think of what to write. I grabbed my pin and scribbled this simple phrase: “When I grow up I want to be like my dad.”
This is the highest compliment a disciple can give his teacher, and for me it’s the highest compliment I know to give my dad. Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We all need to get over our rebellious stage and look to God on how to guide us. The sooner we can get past the, “I know better” phase to sooner we can enjoy the fruit of saying, “the Bible teaches….”