Personal Growth

Dad Goals—Jonathan Edwards Style

by Kristopher Schaal

map on a table with a globe and compass on top

When he was about 19 years old, theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote a famous list of resolutions, which he updated throughout his life. His list includes 70 goals, some of which are almost impossibly daunting! Take, for instance, the following examples:

  • “Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God….”
  • “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.”
  • “Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”

Perhaps you’re not as ambitious as Jonathan Edwards; however, as we approach the new year, you might be making some resolutions yourself. What changes should you make to be a more Christlike dad this year? What habits do you need to replace? How will you redeem the time?

May I suggest 10 “Christian dad goals” for 2021, Jonathan Edwards-style?

Some goals may apply to you and others may not. Scripture references are included in parenthesis after each goal for the sake of further study.
  1. “Resolved, to read God’s Word and pray every day as a matter of habit, availing myself of God’s empowering grace to lead and disciple my kids and to become more like Jesus (Josh 1:8; Ps 1:2-3; 119:9, 11; John 17:17; 2 Cor 3:18; 2 Tim 3:16-17).”

  2. “Resolved, to invest my energies in my church (or join a church), so that my wife and kids will see me submitting to God, and so that my family can grow through biblical teaching and fellowship (Acts 2:41-47; Eph 4:11-16; Col 3:16; Heb 10:24-25).”

  3. “Resolved, to eat well and exercise regularly, so that I am in shape to be a good leader (1 Cor 6:19-20; 9:27; 1 Thess 5:23).”

  4. “Resolved, to spend more quality time with my wife and to pray more together (Eph 5:25-33; Col 4:2; 1 Pet 3:7).”

  5. “Resolved, to put off lust and sexual sin in all forms, including pornography and masturbation, and to ask a mentor to hold me accountable in this area (Job 31:1; Prov 5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27; Eccl 4:9-12; Mat 5:27-30; 1 Cor 6:9-20; 1 Thess 4:2-8).”

  6. “Resolved, to lead my family in regular Bible reading, singing, and prayer (i.e., ‘family worship’ or ‘family devotions’; Deut 6:4-7, 20-25; Ps 78:4, 6-7; Eph 6:4).”

  7. “Resolved, to seek to restore broken relationships by pursuing and forgiving those who have wronged me and confessing my sins (Matt 5:21-26; 7:1-5; 18:15-35; Rom 12:17-21; Eph 4:31-32; Ja 5:16).”

  8. “Resolved, to put off sinful anger, especially against my wife and my children (Ps 37:8; Prov 14:29; 15:1; 25:28; 29:11; Eph 4:26-27; 6:4; Col 3:19, 21; Jam 1:19-20).”

  9. “Resolved, never to avoid disciplining my children because I am too lazy (1 Sam 2:27-34; Prov 13:24; 29:17; Heb 12:5-11).”

  10. “Resolved, to waste less time on my phone or watching TV and invest more in my children–working, learning, playing, and building memories together (Deut 6:4-7; Mat 7:7-12; John 15:12-13; Eph 6:4).”

Ephesians 4:13 describes the goal of the Christian life: “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” God wants to change you, little by little, to be more like Jesus. How can you grow to be more like Him this year?

If this article was an encouragement, consider setting aside time in the next couple of days to write some parenting goals of your own. Get alone with a Bible, pen, and paper, and pray for God’s wisdom. When you are done, pray over your goals again to ask for God’s help. If you think you’ll be tempted not to follow through, show your goals to a friend.

Let’s be serious about growing as fathers this year!

(Feel free to share your dad goals for this year in the comments below.)

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