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A Job That’s Literally “Divine”: A look at the responsibilities of being a Godparent.

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Lots of people are familiar with the terminology “godparent” and some may even be able to describe what one “is” but very few actually understand the role and responsibility of what one does. In fact, godparenting has been described as one of the most prestigious, honorable, yet misunderstood “vocations” in Christianity.

More often than not a child’s godparent(s) are chosen to pay homage to a particular family member or friend or as a substitute sponsor in case of emergency. And, it’s not uncommon for them to not fully comprehend what their new role in the child’s life entails. Despite popular belief, it entails more than donning on a fancy outfit and partying until the wee hours of the morning, then merely showering the child with precious presents on birthdays and holidays and checking in once in a while to check up on his/her progress.

According to religious/spiritual officials, the task of godparenting means staying actively involved in the child’s life, spiritual journey and growth, and serving as an integral liaison between the (baptismal) candidate’s Christian community and the fellowship of faith he/she is going to be baptized in.

· Godparents serve as representatives of Christ:
Traditionally, young inductees into the Christian faith had a series of three sponsors for their spiritual journey: one to guide them through instruction, one to oversee their baptism and one for their confirmation. Yet, at each occasion, it was the godparent who presented the candidate for consideration before the Church.

In our more contemporary society however it’s more customary for the parents to supervise their child’s spirituality. However, godparents maintain their task of representing the child within the Church community beginning at baptism.

Because godparents maintain a stewardship within the Church community and fellowship, they retain the responsibility to preserve a vital interest in the spiritual life of the candidate and his/her family. As a subordinate “parent” the godparent(s)’ focus should be on the healthy development of the child, especially where it concerns appropriate and spiritual life issues. Even if there exists an ample distance, the godparent should allocate time to dedicate to his/her godchild. The godparent is called upon to retain contact with the child, advise, and guild him/her, pray for him/her, write, and send age appropriate gifts (primarily spiritual in nature) to enhance the candidate’s spiritual enhancement and education. The godparent is also responsible for helping instill Christian values, morals, and mores…and setting an appropriate example.

· A Champion Of Education:
Conventionally, the godparent(s) encouraged and oversaw the spiritual enlightenment of the baptismal candidate and would ensure that he/she was equipped with all the essential armor to experience a successful and fulfilling spiritual sojourn. Some churches in the past have made this task “easier” by assigning the godparent(s) with specific duties, including the teaching the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. Other churches mandated that the sponsor(s) prepare the candidate for confirmation.

Today, it’s seldomly the godparents who serve as the candidate’s main spiritual “guide”. However, they are required to maintain an active role in the child’s growth and progress, primarily by fine-tuning their own and offering the candidate the gift of self and a living example to aspire to.

· A Mentor, Helper, and Friend:
Initially being asked to “stand up” for someone getting baptized is very flattering. But, it is also a tremendous (yet frequently unrealized and unfulfilled) prestigious responsibility. Religious/spiritual authorities emphasize the importance and honor of this role is not one to be taken lightly and one to which anyone asked should give much thorough thought.

Authorities recommend asking yourself if you are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually prepared for the paramount privilege. Remember, it’s a lifetime commitment to someone else, through yourself (and your actions), and to God. You must also be readily available for counsel, encouragement, and companionship…and your godchild’s “first friend in faith”.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > A Job That’s Literally “Divine”: A look at the responsibilities of being a Godparent.

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