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Like Son, Like Father

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus
– The Epistle to the Philippians 2:3-5 (ESV)

Saturday we spent time with some sweet friends of ours. It was one of those all-day affairs because we see them so infrequently. So after we had my eldest son’s basketball game early in the morning we raced home to throw toys back into their rooms of origin, sweep up stale cereal that had dried and adhered to the kitchen linoleum with the bond of industrial strength super glue and all the other various and sundry activities you engage in to get your house ready for guests. I anticipated a time of laughs and smiles. Little did I know there would be a tear or two in there as well.

Our friends have a child named Claire who, for all intents and purposes, suffers from a severe case of cerebral palsy. She cannot talk (at least like we do), does not walk and moves with the help of her loving parents and a wheelchair.

My oldest son Thatcher was super excited to see her. He kept waiting at the window for her to arrive with her parents and younger sister. When she came he wanted to help with the wheelchair, ask her to play (with childish naiveté, “Let’s jump on the trampoline!”) and generally wanted to hang out with her. I was all smiles to see him take such a liking to her. But it was more than liking for Thatcher. He wanted to “do stuff” with her. When Claire’s mom asked if he would read a book to her Thatch lit up like he’d won the lottery! Even though he is in kindergarten Thatcher reads at a third grade level (chalk one up to my wife’s home schooling efforts) and reading books is something he loves. And I love that he loves reading. Thatch sat on the couch as Claire’s mom wheeled her over next to him, then he opened a book about King David in front of her and began reading.

For the better part of twenty minutes my son displayed a grace and servant-heartedness that not only warmed my soul but also humbled and convicted me. As he was reading to (his words) “Clairy-Beary” with the exuberance and intensity of a professional narrator, I was questioning how many opportunities have I squandered to be a blessing to someone else? Or when I do serve others, how pure are my motives…how altruistic are my aims? Do I serve with joy or do I serve because that is what I’m supposed to do? Sadly, there are probably more times than not where my son far outpaces his father in taking joy in serving others. Still, my aim is to win at this more times than lose.

I also saw in my son as a five year old what I hope to see in him as a fifteen year old, twenty-five year old, and any other age you can think of. May I be the kind of father that models Jesus for my sons (I’ve got three of them) in such a way that “reading books for others” is their default mode, the sine qua non of their life. If that would be true for them then I would know in some small measure I will have helped guide them in the way (and mind) of Jesus.

But Saturday, my son modeled Jesus for me.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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