We were out on a walk. I was frustrated. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. My son had been bullied, again. I wanted to show him that I cared, that God cared, and justice needed to be done. But I also wanted to show him there is hope for him. That his life is not going to constantly be filled with sadness and bullying.
Talking with your son can be hard. You may not know what you should say or how Jesus has transformed your son’s life. As a Dad, I sure can talk about the things I love; baseball, work, and woodworking. But I find it more difficult to talk to my son about the gospel. He sees the real me, me at my best and at my worst. I feel like a hypocrite because I am not the Christian I should be, and I feel guilty about not being the dad I should be. I know I should be helping my son develop a world view centered on the good news of the gospel, but it feels forced.
Dad, the beauty of the gospel is if you feel like me, you are still an ambassador for Jesus to your son. He is looking to you to help him understand how the world works, and Jesus has sent you to do just that. You won’t be perfect, and that’s okay; Jesus was perfect for you. You will try, and you will do good (or not), but Jesus forgives you.
So, here are five conversations dads should have with their sons:
First, tell your son the good news of the gospel. Hopefully, he is hearing this at church every week, but tell your son about our sin, Jesus’s perfect righteousness lived for us and given to us, his death that takes away God’s wrath against our sin, and his resurrection from the dead for our justification. Tell him God forgives his sins and lead him into that forgiveness. Talk about the good news; help him live in light of the good news and bring your son to Jesus, the One who won’t turn him away.
Talk to your son about what it means to be a man. Don’t fall into the trap society sets, instead show him Jesus, the most masculine man who ever lived. Tell him how manliness is not found in domination, in sexual conquest, or in giving in to the pressure around us to more feminine. Instead show him Jesus, the one who came to serve, not to be served.
Talk to your son about his feelings concerning love: what it is and how Jesus is the perfect picture of it. Tell your son about what love is not and how sin has broken it. Bring your son to the foot of the cross and tell him of the forgiveness of Christ. Then ground your son in the love of Jesus for your son as he goes out to love his neighbor.
4. Failure and Perfection
Your son is not going to be perfect; you should not expect him to be. As his dad, you have a chance to help your son understand that because of sin he will never be perfect—he will fail, whether at school, sports, or later on in life as a father himself. Give him Jesus; show him Jesus was the only person who was perfect so he can try to love his neighbor.
5. Defending Others
Your son will encounter bullies, racism, and sexism as he grows up. Help him understand the sinfulness of oppression and the goodness of defending the weak. This is exactly what Jesus did for us, and he did it while we were his enemies.
(One Freebie) Heaven: Tell your son about heaven and the new earth. Give your son the hope of living everlasting life on the new earth, enjoying the presence of God and the friendship of other Christians. Tell him that while this life is mixed with joy and sadness, the new earth will be joy everlasting.