I'd just sat and prayed with my son, tussling his hair as I stood from the side of his bed; I took three steps toward the door waiting for the customary, "Dad... can I have a drink of water?", when this happened.
"Dad..." (here it comes) "do you like preaching?" (hmm, where's this going?)
"Yeah... It's a big responsibility, and sometimes I wish God had called someone else to do it, but, yes—I love preaching."
"Pop is a preacher as well isn't he?"
"Yep... and so was his Dad—my Grandfather"
Now a very long pause.
"Dad... does that mean I have to be a preacher?"
Ahhh... so this is what's troubling him.
My son was just hitting his teenage years. Most of his life was in a hormone-fueled turmoil as he grappled with issues surrounding identity and personal faith. He can't stand public speaking at school, having to produce a report fills him with anxiety, and finding the right words to express his thoughts, even in everyday conversation, doesn't come easy to him.
So here he is, the son of a preacher man—the next generation from a long legacy of gospel preachers—and he's terrified.
What would you say?
I sat beside him again, whispered a prayer for wisdom, conscious of the fact that this was likely a defining moment for my son—a moment he was looking to his Dad for comfort and counsel.
Would I love for my son to be a preacher of the Word? You bet!
Do I think him a capable soul that may one day minister to God's people in a way that grounds them in the gospel? Without a doubt!
Do I love the divine privilege of preaching? As Spurgeon once inferred, 'I wouldn't stoop to become a king', even if I had the chance!
It's tough growing up the son of a preacher man.
I know—I am one.
You see, I remember when I had been the one in the bed, with my father sitting awkwardly on the edge as I asked similar questions. So I told my son what my father had once gently explained.
Like my father before me, I recounted Paul's letter to the Colossian church.
Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV)—Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
"I don't know what God is calling you to do in His service. But 'what' He wants you to be isn't the real issue here. God is far more concerned with 'who' you'll be. God has chosen you to be his Son, and you are set apart for Him, and He deeply loves you. The 'whatever you do' in verse 17 sits on the foundation of a life of godly character and authentic substance which is underpinned by a love and peace that can only be found in Christ. So whether you end up singing, or preaching, or counselling, or any other number of thing that can be done to build up the church and bring glory to the name of God, doesn't really matter. Whatever you end up doing will spring from 'who' you are in Christ."
I hugged my son—"I love you, buddy."
I had needed that. I had needed to hear the same gospel truths I had just explained to my son.
God is far more concerned with 'who' I am... than 'what' I am.
The same is true for you.