Wisdom is not a consequence of age. There are many who get older but none the wiser. And many youths are wise beyond their years. This can leave us with the burden of fathering our fathers – bringing order, clarity, and direction to those who should be pouring into us.
Ideally, parents are to provide for their children and not the other way around. But it doesn’t always work out this way.
To be sure, our parents have their own story and we might never fully understand those areas of arrested development in their life. All the same, we have the responsibility to become all God has called us to be, even if this means surpassing our parents in many ways.
This is a hard transition. And we’re prone to shrink and hold back so they don’t feel insecure around us, or become prideful and demeaning toward them for not being at our same level.
A better approach is learning how to father our fathers and anyone who might be older but not necessarily wiser.
Of course, this starts with a measure of grief, as we now have to offer more of ourselves in these relationships rather than simply being able to rest and receive. But grief frees us to accept this reality on its own terms rather than continuing to expect something they’re unable to give.
And we’re also free to now love fully regardless if our social statuses are otherwise inverted.
Whether it’s our parents, boss, or other community leaders, we might have to regularly navigate honoring the position of those before us while also taking the lead in providing for them. This is not how it should be. But our duty to love remains all the same.
In the end, parents should provide for their children. But love also calls you to father your fathers when this grace and maturity has been given to you.