Keith Simon is a teaching pastor at The Crossing in Columbia. You can go to his online profile at the church here.
I only became a father reluctantly. When I got married, having kids wasn't on my radar. That sounds foolish but it's true. I was pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. But given that Christine wanted kids, we had one. From the moment that he was born everything changed. We had our second child 13 months later and two more to follow. They are now 17, 16, 12, and 10. Over those past 17 years I've learned a lot — some of which is serious and some not so much. This isn't a complete list by any means but it's a start.
1. I learned that I am far more selfish than I thought. One of the hardest things for me in marriage was giving up personal freedom. No longer was my time, money, etc. ... my own. I shared all those things with my wife. But having kids required giving up more freedom than I could have ever dreamed. Every parent knows the self sacrifice that's required to be a good mom and dad. I wish that I could say that putting my family's interests above my own came naturally. It didn't and still doesn't.
2. I learned that I don't have all the answers. Parenting is only easy if you've never done it. There are a lot of times that I'm not sure what the right thing to do is. Sometimes I don't know how to balance competing values. It's not always obvious to me how to treat each kid fairly or how to love them in a way that reaches their heart.
3. I learned that minivans are indispensable. Upon having kids I said that I'd never drive a minivan. I lied. Minivans aren't cool or fun but they are practical and at some point in your life functional triumphs over anything else. And the DVD player inside the minivan is the greatest invention ever.
4. I learned that the best moments in my life are with my family. One of my favorite parts of the week is when we get to sit down for a family dinner. When our family is all together there's a fun relational dynamic that I wouldn't trade for anything. Simple things like hearing about everyone's day or hearing them laugh at a funny story bring a joy to my heart that's hard to describe.
5. I learned that having kids drives me to pray like nothing else does. I'm not sure that should be true but it is. At some point I realized (maybe every parent does) that I was way in over my head. There's so much I don't know. There's so many areas I need to personally grow in. There's so little I can do to shape my kids' heart. So I find myself returning over and over to God calling out to him asking him for grace, asking him to do things in their life that I never could.