“Daddy, how was your work today?”
The question from my little girl caught me off guard. Not because it’s a hard one to answer, but because it’s not one I’ve heard from a child’s voice very often. Or maybe ever. I think I’m like most dads in that I field somewhere between 2 and 3,000 requests from my kids every day. And that’s on a workday.
When you hear the word, Daddy, it’s most often by some kind of request. A request to play. A request for a snack. A request for help with homework. A request to watch something on TV. This is part and parcel with being a parent – we get asked for stuff. Almost all the time.
Now I love being a dad, but this constant barrage of requests can get tiresome. It’s not because I don’t see it as my role to provide for my children; nor is it because I don’t enjoy giving them things. It’s just the simple fact of knowing that 9 times out of 10 when my children approach me, they are going to ask me for something.
What I’ve sense in myself, then, is this subconscious level of preparation for the coming asks. I find myself at different times, after working all day, coming home and bracing myself for the requests that are going to come. On my best days, I’m able to faith to meet those requests with joy. But then again, there are many times when I meet with with frustration. I put up a defensive posture, ready to propel these requests. And I know my kids are smart enough to see it. This posture comes out in my body language, my initial response, and even the speed at which I respond when I hear the word, “Daddy?”
You feel that?
If so, then maybe this is a prayer you’d like to pray along with me: Lord, help me to be a welcoming father.
“Welcoming” is the opposite of this posture. Welcoming is the stance of generosity, knowing that I have resources and authority that these children to not have. Welcoming is choosing not to hoard those resources and authority, but instead embracing the request coming from one who doesn’t have those things. Of course, one can be welcoming and not say “yes” all the time. But when we welcome our children to come to us, with our words, our eyes, and our tone, then our children will keep on coming even if the answer must be “no” sometimes.
Welcoming is the posture by which our Heavenly Father receives us. When we come to the Lord to present our needs, we thankfully don’t find a Father that is overburdened by such requests. We do not find one who rolls His eyes at yet another ask from His children, or one that wants just a few minutes without someone asking Him for something.
We find a welcoming Father in heaven. As such, we are actually commanded to come to Him with these requests:
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
This is where we find our fuel as fathers. It’s not from our own resolve or our worked up gumption to be more welcoming to these requests. Instead, we find our energy to receive the requests again and again through our own experience from our own welcoming Father. So as it is with Him let it be with us.