For Dads and Tippers

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I tip the way I do because of my father.

My dad was a restaurant manager when God saved him from heroin addiction, right before I was born. So as a young man who had managed, served in, cooked for, and delivered pizzas for a local Cincinnati pizzeria for years, he always made a point to tip generously when he took his family out to dinner. I grew up watching him pay the check at restaurants, and I took note of it. I absorbed it. It became normal to me. And now as a thirty year-old father of three, I tip what I do because of him.

I am my dad’s son.

Listen, as a father, you are putting yourself into your children. You are going to be in your kids, whether you want to be or not. If you choose, you can walk out and never even meet them, but you’ll still be in them. If you leave, they’ll still have your blood and they’ll have the hatred or hole you leave in their souls. And if you stay, they’ll have what you show them about fatherhood.

You know what your kids’ first thoughts about the fatherhood of God will be?

That it must be like yours.

What are you putting in your kids?

I sin in anger and self-pity. I have for as long as I remember. And I am resolved that I don’t want that in my children. I don’t want to rebuild my brittle self-pity or the very same fury I’m trying to crucify in me in my little children’s souls.

Today at lunch I went home and read a verse of 1 John 2 for my wife and kids, and did my best to explain it in the light of the rest of God’s Word. It was hot and I had to be brief so I could be back at work on time. The kids didn’t understand what I was saying; they’re too young. And my wife was tired though lovingly trying to listen. But when I was done with this imperfect little attempt at faithfulness before my Creator, I took my little girl and I put her on my lap and we prayed a one-sentence prayer to the Savior. And when I said “Jesus loves His…” and paused, seeing if she’d know the rest, she finished the sentence for me: “Church!”

I am an idolatrous, still often petty man, but I refuse to leave that in my children. I will fight for their hearts, and I will leave them with the only Jesus who can save them, the One who redeemed and sanctifies their Daddy.

What do I want to put in my children?

The words of Scripture.

The sure sense that those words are breathtakingly beautiful, unshakably true, and healing beyond all measure.

The confidence that Daddy would’ve been a wreck and a wretch if it weren’t for Jesus Christ, the living Holy Spirit, and God the Father.

The love of a Christ-made dad, meaning one who is sacrificial, patient, bold, honest, worshipful, and adores their mommy.

I don’t want to just put in my kids my love of baseball or the Marlins or The Twilight Zone. And I don’t want to brand them with my anger or my grudge-holding or my greed. I want to kill my sin day by day by God’s grace, and then put in my little kids the faith that’s remade me and remaking me.

I want my daughter to be reading and loving and trusting Jesus Christ for as long as she lives. I want my little boy to grow up ready to live and die for the Gospel of His good God. I’m hoping that the daughter we haven’t met yet will pull her hover car up into its holo-port next to her floating condominium and thank Jesus Christ for the gorgeous day around her. Then I hope she’ll go inside and tell her little guys about how wonderful the risen Savior is.

We are in our children. Each day, each week we are putting more and more of our selves, more of what they’ll believe about the concept of fatherhood and about the world around them, into their minds and memories.

What do you want it to be? What do you want to leave with them and in them?

The first place I learned how to tip was sitting next to my father. It’s also the first place I learned how good Jesus is.

I am my father’s son. I hope someday my children will be able to say that with the same gratitude.

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