I’m a 33 year old man. I have a great wife, 2 great kids, a great job at a church we helped start. I have been able to achieve many goals in my life – academically, personally, spiritually and physically. I feel very satisfied with who I am at this point of my life.
I know many others my age who have achieved similar things in their lives at similar ages but when I talk to many them they’re not satisfied – in fact for many of them they feel like what they’ve achieved isn’t enough. If we’re able to have an in-depth conversation there is often one main difference between their life and mine.
In my entire life I have never wondered if my dad was proud of me. I remember him telling me how proud he was of me when I was very young. At times it was because of something I had done and at other times it was said for no reason than to just let me know. When I look back on my skills and abilities during my formative years they weren’t all that impressive – there were many who were better than me at sports, academics and the arts – but my skills in comparison to those around me never impacted how proud my dad was of me and how willing he was to tell me.
When I talk with other men my age and older I am always struck by how little their dad’s have told them they are proud of them. Many say they’ve never heard their father say it and are certain he never will. At times these men will say that as they achieve a monumental goal in their life they are often thinking “maybe this will make my dad proud.” Maybe it does – but they’ll never know because for some reason their dad’s will never tell them.
This morning I was reading the beginning of Mark and I was struck by something incredible as I read about Jesus’ baptism. In Mark 1 it says this…
Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10, 11 NIV)
It’s always very important for us to remember that Jesus was a man – a human man. He had human emotions and human questions – later in scripture it tells us that he experienced everything we experience and has gone through every temptation we suffer with. That means that there were days when Jesus was tempted to think he wasn’t good enough. It means that there were questions that would plague him too that would tempt him to wonder if his Father was really proud of him. God the Father spoke directly to Jesus’ human heart and told him and apparently anyone around “You belong to me! You are MY son! I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!”
The strength that this this gives to Jesus seems to be incredible. The very next thing that happens is he’s lead into the wilderness and is tempted by Satan. Can you imagine what kind of temptation he would have faced in those days if he was wondering if his Father was proud of him – if he was doing enough – if he would ever measure up? Instead he resisted Satan and was able to walk confidently into the full force of his ministry!
If you’re a dad you should make sure your kids know you’re proud of them. Believe me – even if they’re in their 30s or 40s or 50s they are wondering. Many of them think of how to make you proud when they do things that seem to have nothing to do with you – and they hope you’ll notice how they’re doing and that this thing will finally be the one that makes you take note and say something. You may have told them before – but saying it again (and maybe again and again) won’t hurt – it will only give them confidence to be who they were made to be.
Let me just say, if you’re dad’s never told you he’s proud of you – I’m sorry. It sucks wondering all the time and trying to figure out what you have to do to earn his approval. The good news is that through Jesus we have a Heavenly Father who is proud of you just because you’re you. If you need to know that someone’s proud of you take a few minutes, hours or even days and just ask God what He thinks of you – of who you are and what you’re becoming. As you ask be willing to listen. Maybe his Spirit will speak to your heart or you’ll read something in scripture that is like medicine for your heart. He may even use someone around you to tell you how much he loves you and how proud he is of you.
Can you imagine what kind of strength your kids – and really all the children of God – would have if we just knew their dad was proud of them and they didn’t have to do anything else to prove themselves?