Personal Growth

Gospel Grace for Desperate Dads

by Cameron Pollock

man kneeling in prayer in the front of a church

The life of a dad can be quite testing at times. It didn’t take long before I realized the amount of dedication and self-sacrifice necessary to “parent well” was far beyond anything I possessed in myself. And I say this not to seem self-effacing, but in genuine honesty.

Besides obvious temptations like lust, dads are plagued by thousands of subtler idols like gluttony, withdrawal, time-consuming hobbies, blame-shifting, passivity in leadership, an entitlement mentality, and careless speech that tears down those we love most. If we ever want to escape our responsibilities, we have plenty of distractions available just a swipe away on our phones.

Add to those temptations the pressures of work and lack of sleep, and it just seems that much easier to make excuses. It’s enough to make us cry out with Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death” (Romans 7:24)?

God Owns You

I would like to share one simple truth God has been working into my heart recently to help me in this constant battle. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, God owns you. He owns me. When the baby cries at night for the fifth time, or you are gifted a blowout diaper just before you run out the door for a social function, or no one is listening during family devotions, or your only free moments of the day are taken with fixing a clogged toilet, you are God’s. Your calling in that moment is to serve his sovereign purposes for your life, no matter how menial or frustrating.

Though it makes sense that God owns you, I hope you still feel a bit of angst in your soul. In the tough moments of parenting, the bare fact that God owns you might not get you very far. What we must do is always empowered by what God has done. If we dig deeper into this truth, we discover God not only made us—he also bought us. God purchased your soul at the cost of his own Son’s blood. As Creator and Savior he claims a double right to your soul.

Setting Your Hope on Christ

Notice this gospel-centered flow in 1 Peter 1:13-19. First, Peter tells us to set our hope on his grace in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Next, he tells us what we must do.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,

But don’t miss this. He anchors what we must do in what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. This is how we set our hope fully on the grace of Jesus Christ as he said in verse 13.

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

The Jews were saved from their inability to keep the law, bought out of their own failures. In the same way, we have been purchased out of our own inability to keep God’s law. What was the cost? The precious blood of Jesus Christ. Since God paid the infinite price for me, he lays total claim to my life.

Grace that Motivates

This truth provides gospel grace for desperate dads. It was this truth that motivated Hudson Taylor to serve Christ in China his entire life. Likewise, the great American theologian Jonathan Edwards wrote early in his life:

I have been before God, and have given myself, all that I am and have, to God; so that I am not, in any respect, my own. I can challenge no right in this understanding, this will, these affections, which are in me. Neither have I any right to this body, or any of its members—no right to this tongue, these hands, these feet; no right to these senses, these eyes, these ears, this smell, or this taste. I have given myself clear away, and have not retained anything as my own… This, I have done; and I pray God, for the sake of Christ, to look upon it as a self-dedication, and to receive me now as entirely his own, and to deal with me, in all respects, as such, whether he afflicts me or prospers me, or whatever he pleases to do with me, who am his.1

Just as I was writing this post, I came across these moving lyrics to a new song by Skye Peterson, I Am Not My Own.

Verse 1

The One who made the heavens made my heart and soul

Before I drew a breath, I was loved and known

I am His creation, the Maker’s masterpiece

And all that He designs will be done in me

Then, in vs. 2:

My body is a temple of the living God

I’ll worship in this house that His blood has bought

As I bear His image, O may I not profane

The holiness I hold in this earthly frame

The chorus clenches it:

I belong to the Lord, oh I am not my own

I belong to the Lord, I am not my own

I will honor Him for this I know

I belong to the Lord, I am not my own


Surely this truth can help us be the dads we need to be before God. The temptation for living sacrifices is to crawl off the altar. We will never attain perfection in this life, but gospel grace is what motivates us to get back on the altar and stay there.

Christ’s sacrifice is the only force powerful enough to overcome the thousands of trivial vices that tempt us to waste our fatherhood. When the gospel does change us, may this response be ready on our lips: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25a)!


  1. As quoted in City on a Hill: Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century, Phillip Graham Ryken, Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003. Pg.114

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