I’m an internal processor with a vivid imagination, so daydreams are my treat! I love visualizing the future. I often see myself going on adventures, reaching goals and building a healthy family together with my wife. I imagine lavishing my future children with love, wisdom and provision. These dreams motivate me to work and grow so that one day I could be a blessing to both my kids and the subsequent generations to follow.
As a first generation immigrant, I witnessed my near middle-age parents leave everything and everyone they knew to begin a brand new life in a whole new world. Their motive? To provide a better life for their children. I’m equally as motivated to set my children up for success. Although, my ambition comes with caution.
One of ancient Israel’s kings, known as the wisest man to ever live, once said
An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.
This proverb proves to be true time and time again in the stories of penniless lottery winners, drug-addicted child stars and spoiled-rotten kids of the super-rich.
So I understand that if I fail to properly prepare my children, my inheritance could do them more harm than good. Seeing as they will be born into an abundance & comfort they didn’t build, they will have no clue how much mom and dad sacrificed to create that. There’s no way for them to understand the true worth and potential of wealth. If they never had to stretch a dollar, how would they possibly know how to get the most out of many dollars?
Therefore, it would be my responsibility as a father to introduce some form of controlled adversity into their life to prepare them for the future. If I were to have a son, for example, I’d consider sending him to a military school, the mission field or something that builds discipline, character and compassion for the less fortunate. When they’re old enough, I would make sure they have a job. If they go off to college, I would make them responsible for most of their living expenses so that they would learn how to manage their resources.
Would I be a heartless father if I were to follow through with all this? I would argue the opposite!
If you were to hand me a large fortune when I was 16, I would likely not have much of it left today. I was barely mature enough to manage my minimum wage paycheck, let alone any great fortune. However, if I got that same fortune today, 10 years later, it would be a totally different story. A lot of life happened since I was 16. I learned how much work money requires, so I would go to great lengths not to waste it. I would save. I would invest. I’ve come to know many struggling families in those 10 years, so I would likely be much more compassionate with my wealth. And yes, I would still frivolously squander some of it on entertainment — this is my hypothetical fortune, and I do whatever I want — but even my entertainment expenses would be much more interesting & memorable than anything the 16 year old me could have come up with.
Therefore, If I am to be a good father, I am to prepare my children for their birthright. I am to prepare them to get the most out of their inheritance by exposing them to discomfort.
God is our good Father. He has an inheritance for his children of which his Holy Spirit is a down payment, and he won’t let us step into it unprepared.
The earth is our training ground — our military school and mission field. This is the gym where our muscles are stretched and torn only to grow back bigger and stronger. This is where our Father prepares us for our birthright by exposing us to controlled adversity. Scripture teaches that God won’t let us be pushed beyond our tolerance, yet Jesus nonetheless promised us trouble in this life.
Our ways and thoughts are often backwards from that of heaven. Our idea of paradise consists of laying out on the beach and sipping on a pina colada without a care in the world. God’s idea of paradise is to take a man and “put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15).
So is God a bad father for exposing us to all this discomfort? I would argue the opposite!
The wise don’t despise the Lord’s discipline. They embrace it knowing that it’s end is always good. Apostle Paul was one such wise man. He wrote of rejoicing in his suffering because he understood something valuable was being formed within him in the process.
So be encouraged. If life seems difficult right now, it may not be such a bad thing. You are being groomed to steward a heavenly inheritance that is beyond our comprehension. If Christ’s path to glory was through suffering, how are his followers to join him through any other means? Your troubles are for your promotion. Submit to God’s training, embrace the battles and be victorious!