Dads, the goal of your fathering is to make your children as happy and joyful as possible. But that means you must know the difference between immediate happiness and ultimate happiness. Instead of spoiling your children with self-indulgent trivialities, you must teach them to delight in Jesus.
God made you and your children to pursue happiness and joy. No one explains this truth as well as Blaise Pascal in his Pensées:
All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
Just as any good father wants his children to experience joy and happiness, so God desires His children to experience ultimate joy and ultimate happiness. Some may object by saying, “God doesn’t want us to be happy as much as He wants us to be on mission, declaring his goodness across the earth.” True enough, if we define happiness by temporary pleasure. But what if God’s idea of happiness and joy is not the same as ours? What if God’s desire for our joy and God’s mission in the world are not at odds or even two separate paths? What if God’s desire to make us happy is actually accomplished when we are on mission with Him?
Let’s put two psalms together to make this case. First of all, Psalm 16:11 says, “In your presence [O God] there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” It is impossible to experience a fuller joy anywhere but in the presence of God. When you taste and see that the Lord is good, there is profound joy that wells up in your heart. Nothing compares to knowing Jesus. To know Him is to delight in Him.
Now take a look at another psalm. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” If you really see God through the eyes of faith and encounter Him in His glory and worth—it will cause you to be filled with delight. When you delight yourself in the Lord, your desires will eventually mold into His desires. Suddenly the apex of joy that you experience in His presence catapults you into expressing this delight through mission. C.S. Lewis says, “All enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise… the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.” That’s why Christianity is not merely about being good or going to heaven, but it’s fundamentally about being on mission to make much of Christ in all the earth by making disciples who delight in Jesus.
The goal of your fathering is to make your children as happy and joyful as possible. So dads, lead your family to delight in Jesus by equipping them to make disciples.