In 1 John 2:12-14 the apostle writes to 3 unique audiences. First up, dear children, next young men, and finally fathers. Today, lets unpack a key distinction which has crystalized in my mind between young men and fathers. Many gifted thinkers and writers could take these verses and articulate multiple differences between these two groups John addresses in the passage.

However, the key distinction which is emblazoned in my mind is that fathers intentionally restrain their gifts to make room for young men to discover their own identity, calling, gift mix, and passion. In this passage the young men are commended for their strength and victory in overcoming the enemy, while the fathers are affirmed for simply knowing the eternal Father. I am realizing in a fresh way that in a “young man” stage of maturity, we can easily focus on ourselves and what we have accomplished or what we have to offer.

Passions related to personal satisfaction and calling are clearly on the forefront of our hearts and minds. We ask questions like, “What am I gifted at?” “What’s my calling?” “Where is there room for me to demonstrate what I bring to the table?” “ Am I significant enough to warrant a following?” and other similar questions. These are not bad questions and I believe are a normal part of the process of growing and maturing. However, God has greater places of maturity for us all and invites us to something more satisfying as spiritual parents.

Fathers have a bigger picture they are looking at that contains their investment and role but is not centered on that investment and role. Fathers think about the family not about personal accolades and trophies. Fathers find joy in stepping back and letting others shine. Fathers intentionally restrain their own gifts and abilities to make room for the gifts and abilities of others. While knowing these “young men” have less experience, fathers enjoy watching them shine and take center stage.

Fathers see that if they do not get out of the way, all that remains when they are gone is a monument to their past, rather than a legacy in which their life continues to influence future generations. Fathers realize applause fade, cheers cease, but influence goes on in the countless faces you will never meet. We have the privilege to think beyond one generation of impact.

As the passage declares, fathers see from eternity; therefore, they don’t mind going unseen in the temporary. Be encouraged. God is maturing us all to see, think, act, and invest with such an eternal perspective. This my friends, is good news!