When I was in high school and college, my father, a dentist, asked me to work in his office during the holiday vacations. I would help in the front office, filing patient charts, mounting x-rays, and calling patients to remind them of their upcoming appointments. Ostensibly, the job was to give me a real-world experience of working and earning some pocket money, but I knew my father wanted to cultivate an interest within me to also become a dentist. Family and friends would inquire if I was going to follow in his footsteps and take over the practice. At times, my father would say, “It would be so easy for you, everything would be set up for you. You would just walk into a practice.” All things were pointing my future career in this direction.
During any downtime, I would quietly position myself in an operatory next to where my father was attending to a patient. I would observe what he did, listen to how he interacted with his patients. I tried to imagine myself in his position. I would look at his old dental school textbooks, attempting to kindle an interest. But it was of no avail, I was just not interested. I knew we had to discuss this issue.
“Dad,” I slowly began. “I appreciate you allowing me to work in your office. I have learned a lot. I have really tried to like dentistry but….it’s not for me.” I waited for the other shoe to drop.
My dad nodded as if he expected this disclosure. “Ok,” he said with resignation. “It would be so easy…everything set up for you.”
“I know Dad.” His oft repeated line gnashed at my conscience.
When I shared with him that I wanted to seek a career in medicine, it mollified him a bit, but the disappointment was still palpable. Several years later, my father sold his practice and retired. He was able to see me begin my career as a physician and although I could see that he was pleased with my career choice, it was tainted with a pang of regret. I did not follow in my father’s career path, but I am grateful that he taught me equally important lessons of dedication and compassion for patients.
Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?
Matthew 13:55 (ESV)
In the time of Jesus Christ, it was common for the eldest son to inherit the family business, apprenticing and learning the trade from their father. Jesus was undoubtedly trained as a carpenter, as the townspeople of Nazareth pointed out in this Bible passage. But at the age of about thirty years, Jesus began His ministry, leaving His mother and siblings.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
John 5:19 (ESV)
Jesus was undoubtedly influenced by the godly example of His earthly father, Joseph. Although Jesus was trained to be a carpenter, He chose to follow the path of His Heavenly Father. Without sounding irreverent, I wonder if his mother and siblings were disappointed or upset by this decision? His family, at that time, did not understand why He chose to do this but Jesus was very deliberate and sure of His actions. His new career choice, so to speak, was not easy. Persecution, rejection, torture, and death. But He was faithful to follow His Father and for this, salvation and eternal life are available to all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
In college, I was adopted by a new Father through faith in Jesus Christ. It was a different set of expectations from my earthly father. Instead of an occupation, it was a complete surrender of my will to God. How could I do this? By my own efforts it is impossible, but thanks be to God that He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell within me to strengthen and guide me to live a godly life.
Living up to a father’s expectations is often difficult for many families. I tried to take the best qualities and attributes my father modeled and imparted to me, but ultimately, I disappointed him. Only Jesus Christ completely fulfilled His Father’s expectations. Praise God that He did!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.