Written by: Chip Ingram
Article source: JOY! Magazine
A young father stopped me in the hallway after the worship service. “Pastor,” he asked, “how come Mothers’ Day is all about the wonderful virtues moms bring to the world, but Fathers’ Day is all about how men need to stop being slackers and become good husbands and dads?”
Feeling inadequate as a father
I confess, my first reaction was a little defensive. I had just preached what I thought was a pretty good message. After 25 years as a pastor and father, I was confident that the biblical teachings I shared would help fathers lead their families well and be “difference makers” in their home.
But this guy’s penetrating question made me remember how terribly inadequate I felt as a young father. When I married my wife, Theresa, I became an instant dad—because along with her I gained her fatherless four-year-old twin boys. In those early years, I needed wisdom and mentoring more than a spiritual kick in the pants from the pulpit.
Apart from a vital relationship with Jesus, no father can fulfil this sacred stewardship entrusted by God.
The roles and responsibilities of fathers
The sense of inadequacy followed me to seminary, where it motivated my choice of topic for my thesis: “The Role and Responsibility of the Father in Transmitting Values in the Family.”
My empirical research was on the impact of a father with regard to a child’s moral development, self-image, and sexual development. I also examined every verse in the Bible that addressed the topic and then compared my findings. The results were stunning!
While popular culture portrays fathers as out-of-touch, irresponsible doofuses, research tells a different story. Fathers are the primary shaper of a child’s moral development and sexual identity, and they contribute equally with mothers with regard to a child’s self-image.
A biblical father loves his family unconditionally, sacrificially, and consistently.
The value of a father’s presence
The greatest predictability factor of whether kids live in poverty, have a child outside marriage, get on drugs, or end up in prison, is not race or economics or geography. It is the presence or absence of an engaged, loving father.
My scriptural study reinforced that conclusion. The Bible calls fathers to three specific roles. A biblical father loves his family unconditionally, sacrificially, and consistently—as a protector, a provider, and a priest.
A godly father teaches his children how to live life wisely, based on biblical principles. He models leading with integrity, initiative, and foresight. He reveals the character of God to his children, directly and indirectly.
Look to the Bible for guidance
Listen to Moses addressing Israel’s leaders, outlining the role of parents but specifically fathers charged with ensuring this is a reality in the home:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-7
The call to fatherhood is extremely high
The call is very high! In fact, apart from a vital relationship with Jesus, no father can fulfil this sacred stewardship entrusted by God. Because, let’s face it, it’s hard to be a good dad! Not simply because we’re fallen human beings seeking to disciple our children who are falling human beings, but because most of us didn’t have a model of a biblical father.
A godly father teaches his children how to live life wisely, based on biblical principles.
The greatest investment
I’m an example of that. My dad was a good guy, a Marine in World War II, a faithful school teacher, a financial provider. But the pain of the war and the death of his own father created a dependency on alcohol and a passive role in our family.
So, 40 years later, I can think of no greater investment you could ever make than to mentor godly fathers out of your sons and grandsons in your church. Young men like the guy who asked me that question after Sunday service.
Let’s help dads
Men need mentors. They need to see what it looks like to be a man, to be a dad, to pay the price, and make a difference in the lives of their children. Because everything rises and falls with the presence—or absence—of godly fathers doing what only they can do, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This month, let’s do more than just say Happy Fathers’ Day. Let’s help fathers become what God designed them to be.
Date published: 24/05/2022
Chip Ingram – teaching pastor and CEO of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for more than 30 years, Chip is the author of many books.
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