Choosing a Guardian/Godparent
Recently we published “A Titanic Error: Do You have a Will?” to encourage parents to have a will and to name a guardian for their children in the unfortunate event of a tragedy turning their children into orphans.
“People who do not acknowledge God tend to think in the here and now. The choice of guardians or godparents is critical. Christians need to think eternally. Who you choose to raise your children is eternally important” (J18S A Titanic Error).
This time I want to follow-up with some advice about choosing a guardian (or godparent). Guardian is the legal term but I like “godparent” because the reference to God elevates the role. Your decision to lead your child in the ways of God sets a path that allows you to bestow the honor of naming godparents.
The basic physical need for a godparent is to provide food, clothing, and shelter for your child should you be taken from them before they turn eighteen. The godparent’s spiritual purpose goes much deeper and is a role they can fulfill in partnership with your parenting. They can be spiritual role models who provide an additional level of moral guidance.
Here are some steps to consider:
Jesus loves the little children; let Him guide you in what’s best for them. My bride and I put this before the Lord in prayer shortly after we knew she was expecting.
Analyze your choices
As soon as you know you are going to be a parent start to consider your choices. You need to be a “fruit inspector.” I borrow this term from a sermon I heard years ago. It’s a reference to Matthew 7: 20. “Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Look for those around you whose actions would lead you to believe they would be a good godparent. Do they show good “fruit” in their daily lives? Are they a good example of a godly life? Do they display good values? Put more stock in their actions than in their words.
Make sure they know your expectations
Make sure the potential godparents know your expectations. It’s a good idea to set aside a specific time to talk about your expectations and to make sure they understand their role.
Focus your priority
The choice is not a reward for friendship or family connection. You shouldn’t assume it is an obligation to grant it to a specific “someone.” That friend or family member may not be the best choice. Think of your child’s future, not of your current need for popularity or acceptance. Sadly, some may be hurt by your choice. That is unfortunate, but remember, it’s about the children.
Beware of “the promise.” Some are inclined to make a lesser choice (due to the above mentioned lack of priority) but ask for the promise, “We will raise them the same as you have even though we don’t currently live our lives based on your values.” This oath is almost useless because children learn much more by what is modeled than what is preached.
With all this in mind, make the right choice and make sure your wishes are specifically outlined in your will.
Your choice is not set in stone
Things can change. Due a move, your choice for godparents may not be in your child’s life. Sometimes the marriage of your godparent choice may dissolve into divorce. Maybe a change occurs in life-style, values, or parenting styles. All of these might be a reason to make a change. In fact, it’s good to have a back-up choice in mind. The language in our will outlines a first and second choice.
It would be sad for young children to lose their parents, but through the wise choice of guardians/godparents, the responsibility for godly parenting endures. Have you taken this important step to protect your child’s future?
By: Dave Trouten is the married father of two teenage boys and a Division Chair & Professor of Communication at Kingswood University.
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