I became a father at the moment my daughter was conceived. I became a daddy the instant I held her in my arms. I became a papa the first time she called out my name. The Holy Spirit gave me those words a few years ago in one of my moments of sentimental, prayerful reflection.

In my eight years of being “Papa,” I have learned just a smidgen of God’s heart as a Father—the love, the care and the protection He gives each of His children. He wants the best for all of us, just as I want the best for my daughter.

My daughter, Eliana, has trained me as well. She lets me know what she needs—attention, affirmation, a hug. Sometimes, I nail it; other times, not so much. I have had to look into my daughter’s eyes and ask for her forgiveness. Paul stated: “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master” (Eph. 6:4, The Message).

I was recently elected to the local school board in the county where I reside with Eliana and my wife, Christi. In a small way, I get to help “father” more than 9,000 students in Montgomery County, Va. It is a lot like being the spiritual father I am to those whom I serve at our church, The Bridge. I see people’s potential, and I want to do everything I can to train them. I am thrilled to see students and congregants launched into life and into the things God has called them to do.

As I reflect on where God has taken me in the past several years, I keep coming back to the concept of being a father. I am reminded of Abraham, the father of nations and a forefather of the Messiah. God’s promise to Abraham came to pass, and it was through him that all nations were blessed (Gen. 17:5).

As ministers of the gospel, all of us can be loving fathers or mothers—or, more appropriately, papas or mamas—to our biological children, our adopted children, our spiritual children and to all those the Lord has entrusted to our care. God’s blessing can flow through us to others, just as it did through Abraham.

I am proud to be a father. I love being a daddy. But I adore being Papa.

Happy Papa’s Day to you!

By: Joey Lyons, assisting minister of The Bridge (Christiansburg Foursquare Church) in Christiansburg, Va.