I remember one of my first experiences changing my oldest son’s diaper not long after he was born. Soon after I removed the soiled diaper, a stream of his urine went right into my mouth. While I was washing my mouth out with Scope for about 30 minutes, I was thinking, “Hey, this kid might have a future in basketball!”
Sure enough, despite the fact he’s wearing my genes, Ryan became a very good basketball player. He starred in Junior Jazz games and he developed a deep love for basketball. He enjoyed watching basketball games on TV and in person. When he was 10, he served as a ball boy for several BYU basketball home games and got to sit right under the hoop, mopping up players’ sweat and he got to rebound for the players during warmups. He attended the Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery basketball camp. As he got older, he got better. Only trouble was, he attended Lone Peak High at a time when guys named T.J. Haws, Eric Mika and Nick Emery did.
So his dreams of being a basketball star ended there.
Fathers pass on certain physical traits and characteristics to their offspring and for that I’ve apologized to my kids.
Still, there are many important traits we can pass on to our children that are spiritual, and eternal, in nature — such as a legacy of love, integrity, faith and service.
Yes, being a father can be intimidating and frightening.
Fortunately, we have the ultimate role model to follow when it comes to being the ideal father — Heavenly Father.
If we as fathers wonder what kind of father we ought to be, let us focus on Our Heavenly Father’s example. He is always there for us and everything He does, He does for us.
Even His title is instructive. He is Our Heavenly Father. Heavenly describes not only where He lives, but also how He lives. I know I can be more heavenly in the way I teach, interact and even play with my children. In the latter verses of D&C 121, we find numerous heavenly attributes and behaviors that we can, and should, emulate. Heber C. Kimball described Heavenly Father as “a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being.”
I know I can be more heavenly in the way I teach, interact and even play with my children.
Any father who has taken long drives in a cramped, hot car with a bunch of hungry, tired kids knows how difficult it can be to be cheerful, pleasant, lively and good-natured all the time. But we have the capacity to become like Him. It won’t be easy, and it requires tremendous patience and hard work. But I know that as we strive to become like Him, He will help us.
Our Heavenly Father has all power, all wisdom, all knowledge. He knows us individually and loves us perfectly. He can help us achieve any righteous goal. When we turn to Him in prayer, and trust in Him, He will pour out blessings upon us.
Isn’t it ironic that we must go through years of grueling study and research to be conferred a degree of, say, law or medicine, and yet becoming a dad is, for most people, relatively simple? I know from personal experience that becoming a heavenly father is not easy.
That’s because we are striving to become like our Heavenly Father, and usually for us, the biggest obstacle is being heavenly. While becoming an earthly father is relatively easy for most men, becoming like our Heavenly Father is the great test of life that requires years and years of practice.
The good news is, we might be doing better than we think we are, like when we help our kids with school projects and Eagle Scout projects. Like the times we take them out for an ice cream after they score a goal or get a hit or perform at a piano recital. Like the times we take notice of the good things they do, sincerely compliment them or simply just listen to them. Our Heavenly Father’s biggest concern is for our spiritual and temporal welfare. As fathers, we must do the same.
Said President Gordon B. Hinckley: “I ask you men, particularly, to pause and take stock of yourselves as husbands and fathers and heads of households. Pray for guidance, for help, for direction, and then follow the whisperings of the Spirit to guide you in the most serious of responsibilities, for the consequences of your leadership in your home will be eternal and everlasting.”
One of the major differences between Heavenly Father and we as fathers in general is the characteristic of being Heavenly. When we are, we are a lot like Him.