I discovered the deepest joys of fatherhood in the mundane work of domestic life.
Attend church on Mother’s Day and you’ll hear how great mom is. Attend on Father’s Day and—if you hear anything about fathers at all—you’ll hear how today’s fathers need to step up and provide.
I suspect that the attitude we take toward these two holidays reveals something deeper: Christians praise Mom for serving well but criticize Dad because he’s not leading well. But I’ve begun to wonder if our inflexible parental gender roles come more from culture than from Scripture. Perhaps the best way for fathers to lead their homes spiritually is to embrace the work of the home rather than build an identity outside of it.
I am a husband and father of two—a 4-year-old daughter and a 4-month-old son. I am also an employee at a church. Of those three, the first two are unique to me; no one else can be the husband to my wife or the father to my children. At home, I am irreplaceable.
My role as an employee, however, is different. If anyone calls me “irreplaceable” at work, I take it as well-intended flattery, but I don’t believe it. Unfortunately, this is more discipline than impulse for me. American culture works against our understanding of work as secondary to family. It elevates our jobs to such a status that what we do becomes who we are.
Our small talk drifts more naturally toward work (“So what do you do?”) rather than relationships (“So tell me about your parents.”). If you don’t have a job—or don’t have an impressive one—it’s hard to feel like you have much of an identity. No wonder so many women feel ashamed of being stay-at-home mothers.
Our attempts to elevate the domestic life, sadly, have often …