I’ve written a few songs over the years. A love song written to a girl I hoped wouldn’t laugh too much… A goofy song to present a Bible story to a bunch of kids that I hoped would at least laugh a little… Some dumb jingles just to make myself laugh… And a few songs I hoped would draw my students together in worship. One song that I’ve done on piano (it’s really just a running bass line and some melodic chords strung together) has caught my oldest daughter by the ear and she’s decided to figure it out. The other day as I sat in the living room, I found myself humming along to a familiar tune that was playing in the background. Then I realized – she’s playing my song!
I don’t know why this struck me this time in particular, she’s been playing it for a few weeks now, but it did. Then in a significant moment, a quiet whisper wondered, “What else would she play?” Of course she was playing the song I’ve been playing for her for years. Of course the melodies she’s heard flowing from my life would find their way into her own. How could they not? Of course the patterns I’ve held out to her and demonstrated as beautiful would be reached for and held onto, as if she were once again reaching for my fingers as she stumbled into her first steps.
Wait… we are still talking about music, right?
No, not really.
The girl who didn’t laugh too much at my first song still holds my hand on walks, but my daughter doesn’t need to cling to my fingers when she walks anymore. And she doesn’t ONLY play my songs. She’s making music of her own. Our kids make lives of their own. This shouldn’t be a big revelation to anyone who has children. They begin to assert their own will on life right away. But they do so within the frameworks and patterns they see in our own lives.
As a dad, I want to make sure the life I’m living is worth emulating. If they grow up to be “just like me” – I want to make sure that’s a good thing! There are a few things I’m doing to make sure that it is: (Do your next generation a favor and try them, too…)
- Imitate Christ. As long as I’m living a life that looks like Jesus, there is no shame in saying “Do what I do.” The call of the disciple is to learn the way the Master lives – then teach that way to others. That starts in our own homes.
- Don’t feel like you have to hide all the sour notes. It’s nice when our kids think we’re perfect, but then their eyesight clears up and they start to see the truth. Sometimes, we make mistakes. We need grace to be forgiven and strengthened. It’s better for our kids to see us being re-shaped by His grace than pretending we don’t need it. Because they need it to.
- Keep making new music! Sometimes, I forget that my life today is not what it will be tomorrow. I get tuned in to the rhythms of the choices I’ve made and forget to keep experimenting and tinkering with new chords and lines and instruments. Our kids need to see us continuing to set out on new steps of faith that require us to trust God to lead.
- Sometimes, let them lead. You’ll be amazed at what your kids have learned without you noticing. Let them take you somewhere unexpected!