We recently interviewed Otto Peeters who shared his experiences of being a stay-at-home dad and a parent of a child with Special Needs. In part one of our interview, Otto shares the challenges and joys of transitioning into a new role of a stay-at-home dad, and all that God has done in his life along the way. We hope that you are blessed and inspired by this story.
1. What does being a Christian father mean to you?
I’m imperfect. God is perfect. My children are under my authority, but I am under God’s authority. I want them to never know a day that they didn’t trust in Jesus, as their Lord and Saviour (my wife always says that, and I think it’s a good one), so I try to immerse and marinate them in the Christian worldview. We begin and end the day in the Bible and prayer. I’m not great at this but I can see their hearts and minds slowly being shaped by biblical truth. That’s exciting!
It’s also scary because kids learn by what is taught and what is ‘caught.’ They are ALWAYS watching me, and I have to make sure I am worth copying! This means I need to keep growing in my faith too. If I’m to teach our boys to achieve new goals, I can’t be stagnant myself. The best way to do that is in prayer and regular bible reading. Being stretched in my thinking with clear and relevant bible teaching and Christian writing is priceless too. Lately I have spent early mornings listening to Ravi Zacharias, John Piper, Don Carson, Francis Chan, etc. I don’t have to be a ‘great Christian thinker’ myself, but I can benefit enormously from thinking about Christian things!
2. How does knowing God the Father change the way you parent your kids?
I think it changes everything. It has to. As a parent we are teaching a child their identity. As a Christian parent, I also need to show them that their identity then points to their destiny. In the words of J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God: “I am a child of God, God is my father. Heaven is my home, every day is one day nearer. My saviour is my brother. Every Christian is my brother and sister too!” I believe this is a pretty good compass to walk through life with.
3. Can you share something that God has been teaching you since you’ve become a parent?
I’ve learnt a lot and yet I still have my ‘L-Plates’ on! Seeing my own sinfulness and shortcomings is one lesson. I used to think I was patient. I may have been. It’s just that now I am constantly put in situations where I have to be selfless and I spend the majority of the day serving others. I have less time for my own hobbies and pursuits. Perhaps my irritability and impatience come from a place where I don't get to fill every day with serving myself. I’ve probably learnt the same lesson through marriage too. Maybe happiness isn’t as important as Holiness?
I think also trusting in God is a journey that hasn’t stopped. I have lived and worked in the Outback. I have been part of a church-plant. I have three boys and one with extra needs. I lost my job for the last two years due to medical reasons. I have taken on the challenges of a new role–being a stay-at-home dad, studying while homeschooling our boys, running the house and doing the shopping. It’s been a great lesson in not putting confidence and identity in one’s work.
I’ve had great times and am much closer with my sons. I’ve been able to be more involved in church. I’ve seen my wife thrive in a job she enjoys. I’ve had many opportunities to do things that a shift-work pilot would not have permitted. I have much to be thankful for. Trusting in God is not always easy, in fact at times it was near impossible.
As C.S. Lewis says in the Lion and the Witch and the Wardrobe, describing Aslan the Lion. “He is not a tame lion, but he is very good.” I know that God is very good, and I can completely trust Him in ALL things. I can see looking back that trusting in God is so important when you go through ‘the valley’. Trusting in God does bring about peace as you hand life’s challenges to Him. I need to do this consciously and on a daily basis.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
4. How do you see your role as a dad as a form of “men’s ministry”?
Apparently Aristotle once said, “Give me the child until they are seven, and I will give you the man.” We have three boys. 11, 9 and 7. According to Aristotle, a significant part of their ‘formation’ has been completed. Of course, they are being shaped beyond their first 7 years.
Of course, I have more time with them, God willing. However, these early years are so significant.
So many seeds have been planted already that are now growing. I see it as a huge privilege to begin ‘Men’s Ministry’ in these boys’ lives so early on. I’m very aware of my imperfection and that I need to keep relying on God. Indeed, it is Jesus who I need to show to my three boys, so I need to instruct them how we need to follow Jesus’s wisdom and teachings in the Bible. By showing them I’m not perfect and I’m still learning. My prayer is that we are following in Jesus’ footsteps together today and on that day when we meet him face to face.
Did you enjoy this story? Read the rest of the series!