Today (6/20/2010) we are celebrating Father’s Day here in the U.S. So, to all of you fathers, “Happy Father’s Day!”
The Bible has much to say about the subject of fatherhood. God Himself is personified in the Trinity as God the Father. I don’t want to tackle the theology of the Trinity in this message; I want to talk about being a Christian and being a father.
You can find all kinds of statistics on the importance of fatherhood from various organizations (all of them with different agendas) through a simple search engine query. The Christian websites state the importance of fatherhood, citing crime, poverty, suicide and income differentials of the children as primary motivators. The feminist websites downplay the importance of a father in lives of children citing the success ratios of single mothers. Just like every issue – there are special interests.
There is only one special interest group if you are a father that should be making an impact on your life and that is your family. The statistics of the masses are not instruction manuals nor are the excuses for our individual lives. As Christians, our lives should be different (tragically the statistics are almost identical, but they should be different).
I have been a father since 1993 and again since 1995. I have graduated from 2 AM feedings and changing diapers (although I didn’t change many). The kids can walk and talk. They bathe themselves. They dress themselves. They can fix their own hair. They don’t need to be reminded to brush their teeth. Yes – they are girls.
The activities that children must learn to accomplish are instructed by the parents, but being a father is so much more than instructing on the fine art of shoe tying, bike riding and car driving. It is all of these things, but it is much more.
Our character, our attitudes and our world view initially come from mom and dad. As a father, you are the primary role model for male behavior in the life of your children. Your actions and reactions to life will be remembered by your children for years to come. The sayings you constantly repeat when correcting them will undoubtedly be used by them when they correct their own children. Your approach to prayer, bible study, church, ministry and God are a frame of reference for what adult Christianity should look like.
Our actions versus our words are carefully weighed in the minds of our children. Very rarely will they model the things we say; they will most often model the things we do.
As a Christian father it is important that your children see Jesus in you.
The Apostle Paul gives a very clear illustration of fatherhood:
I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:14-17)
Your children have many influences in their lives and many instructors:
- Sports Figures
- Family Members
- Media Personalities
- Video Games
Each of these people adds to your children’s lives. Some of them add invaluable information and experiences that you are not capable of providing and some of them add things you would have preferred to keep your children away from. The major difference between a father and an instructor is responsibility.
As a father we must take responsibility for the actions and lives of our children. Blame cannot be cast upon the teacher or the soccer coach. Kanye West or Miley Cyrus are not the evil influences that will cause your children to become anything. Paris Hilton and video games will not be the undoing of your child’s faith. Your children, just like everyone else, will be the sum total of the decisions they have made in life.
As a father it is your responsibility to provide your children with the world view, frame of reference and power to make decisions for their lives. The decisions your children will make will be all over the map. They are going to make mistakes; some of them small and some of them larger than you would like to see (do you remember your teenage years and early twenties?).
The key to success as a parent is providing a child with the resource of character; the resource of relationship and the resource of authority.
- Do they know the scriptures?
- Do they know why things are right and wrong not just that they are right and wrong?
- Do they understand the law of sowing and reaping?
- Do they understand that God grants grace and mercy but very rarely will employers or government officials?
- Do they understand personal responsibility?
- Do they understand that character is more than reputation; character is who we are in secret?
Just like anything in life – being able to repeat things that you have been instructed and owning them are two very different things. If children are going to be successful they need to own these things.
- Do your children have a real relationship with Jesus Christ?
- Do your children know how to form godly relationships that do not involve you?
- Do your children have a network of connections they have built that will support them through the seasons of their life?
- Have you established a relationship with your children that allows them to bring their failures to you?
- Do your children understand their relationship to the enemy?
- Do your children understand that God loves them and that He loves everyone else; regardless of their ability to relate?
Relationships are the key to our lives. Our relationships and how we relate to others determine just about everything about us. Your children need to know how to interact with people, with God and with the enemy.
- Do your children understand the authority of the name of Jesus and its power in their lives?
- Do your children have the ability to make a decision on their own?
- Do your children understand their relationship to the church, the government and God as it relates to authority?
Understanding who we are in relationship to the world around us provides us with authority in our daily lives. Make sure that your children know who they are.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:20)
Your children are a reflection of you. You are their father and you will answer to God, family and society for the things you have done with your children. That is heavy, I know.
There is a reason you read the genealogies in the Bible. It was important to know where people came from. Your children add to your genealogy – live in such a way that they will be proud to say “I am the son of” or “I am the daughter of” you.
May God grant you wisdom, patience and understanding as you raise your children to be men and women of God. May your children be blessed and may they prosper throughout their lives.