My wife and I are blessed to have been asked to be godparents to two beautiful little girls and we’re grateful for some quality time spent with them recently.

Having participated in baby E’s dedication service on Sunday, I was thinking about what being a godparent entailed and what place there was for it in our increasingly secular society.

Let me know your thoughts.

What a godparent isn’t

1. Cheap babysitting!

You don’t invite someone to this special role on the understanding that if you want to go on holiday, they’ll step into the breach…at least I don’t think that’s why we got asked. Probably ought to be more local to them if we had?!

Babysitting

2. Practice for being with your own children

It’s three years since M’s parents asked us to be godparents and playing with her did add to our confidence with little children prior to having our own. However, that was certainly not the primary motivation for accepting and is merely a convenient side-effect.

3. Recognition of being a good friend of the parents

I wonder if sometimes we think of godparents as a honour we give to our really close friends because they have been such good friends. Like it’s a privilege to be earned? I’m not sure that’s the correct way of looking at it though. Even though someone is an amazing friend to you, they may not be the right person to have that close relationship with your child. You have to weigh it up.

4. An opportunity to reprise your favourite film character

The_Godfather

‘Nuff said!

What a godparent is

1. Friend and counsellor

It can be a really special acknowledgement of friendship, trust and durability of relationship to be asked to godparent a child. The role brings with it the opportunity to be part of that child’s life and to offer them non-parental support where necessary. Close relationships between godparents and the child can be really helpful throughout their life.

2. Prayer partner

It’s not just the opportunity to be involved in a child’s life that a godparent provides. It also comes with great responsibilities to pray for that child daily and be concerned about their spiritual welfare.

Prayer

3. Christian support

Along with praying, the godparent has a duty (and makes promises before God to do this) to teach the child about Jesus, the Bible and the Christian faith. They should be looking for ways to do this when they spend time with them and setting an example to the child in the ways they live their life. And yes, that last sentence does make me anxious!

Godparents are also there to give the parents support, not in an easy babysitter sense but as the parents seek to teach and guide their child.

Godparents aren’t in the Bible. There’s no specific mandate. But they are a human creation to support parents in developing their children’s Christian faith. These are not light responsibilities and ought to be undertaken faithfully.

I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on being a godparent and the challenges it brings.