On Being a Father
Pastor Darrell Johns
My dad came to the Lord as a young adult. He married soon after, and, over time, four children were born into the home. Dad was a new husband and father and did not have a godly frame of reference in his own dad. My dad’s own father was in his life sporadically; therefore, for the most part, Dad and his younger brother were raised by their single mom. However, Dad found role models in the church. He and his pastor shared the same first name, so my dad, George, found a father figure in his spiritual leader.
Parenting skills are most often learned by observation. The success of that process depends on the presence and character of a role model. Even the best earthly fathers are imperfect. An excellent way to become a good father is by learning and living the principles taught in the Bible that depict the nature of our Father in Heaven.
The Bible is preeminently practical as well as instructive. According to the Good Book, what are the attributes of a good father?
A father is a provider.
Our Heavenly Father provides life and breath and all things. (See Acts 17:25.) Like good earthly fathers, God gives good gifts to His children. (See Matthew 7:9- 11.) Human fathers, like their Heavenly counterpart, provide shelter, food, and clothing for their families. (See Matthew 6:25-32.)
A father is a protector.
In His wisdom, God gave men the mental, emotional, and physical inclination to protect their children. (This does not mean that mothers are not also protective.) Every father has the nature and means to be the “strong man” of the house. (See Matthew 12:29.) Fathers direct their children away from spiritual, emotional, and physical danger, protecting children from influences that could destroy them.
Fathers, through their relationships with God, create a spiritual covering over their families. They exercise authority in spiritual as well as practical realms. The character of a godly man is a protective barrier for his children. Job prayed for his children and sacrificed for them. (See Job 1:5.) The Lord honored the commitment of fathers and, as a result, blessed their children. (See Deuteronomy 4:37-38; 7:8; 9:5; 10:15; 1 Kings 15:4.)
A father is a teacher.
The first commandment requires parents to love the Lord with their whole beings and then teach truth to their children. This formal training process is reinforced by casual, intentional conversation. (See Deuteronomy 6:4-7.)
Fathers are to “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). This shaping process begins when children are very young, not when they are older. The Bible conveys the idea that fathers (and mothers) are to create an appetite for truth in their children.
Fathers are to teach in a manner that does not provoke their children to anger. A wrong attitude in a parent leads to anger and discouragement in children. (See Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21.)
Fathers teach best the principles that they practice. When fathers personify what they teach, they have the greatest positive impact on their children. Godliness, prayer, worship, love, work, patience, and other virtues are best imparted by role models who live what they teach.
A father is patient and merciful.
Our Heavenly father “pities” His children. He carries His children. (See Psalm 103:13-14.) A father knows that his children are dependent on him and need his spiritual, emotional, and physical presence. Just like the perfect Father, every dad knows that his children need him to be actively involved in their lives. Fathers are to be present, engaged, and attentive.
The father of the prodigal son waited patiently for his son’s return from the far country and was merciful when the son returned. (See Luke 15:11-24.) The father also was wise in dealing with his older son who did not understand the father’s actions toward his wayward brother. (See Luke 15:25-32.)
Fathers are important in the lives of their children, but it is my observation that fathers often feel inadequate. They may wonder if they measure up to the high standard set in the Bible. As a father, I’ve learned to lean not only on the example of my father but also on the resources of my Heavenly Father. God is not only my standard for fatherhood but also my strength that enables me to become a godly father.
In our culture, there is an attempt to marginalize fathers and minimize their value. This Father’s Day, I encourage dads to stand strong and be godly fathers to their children and to those who do not have father figures in their lives.