We live in a day and age that fathers are desperately needed. According to the U.S. census bureau, 24 million children (that’s 1 out of 3) live without their biological father in the home. Consequently, there is a father factor in nearly all social ills facing America today. Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.
George Mallory is the famous mountain climber who died attempting to reach the peak of Mount Everest, and may well have been the first person to reach the peak. But the pursuit of his dream took a toll on his family. In the introduction to the book Last Climb, George’s son John, who is was just three years old when his father perished, speaks of both his pride at what his father achieved and sadness. He wrote “I would so much rather have known my father than to have grown up in the shadow of a legend, a hero, as some people perceive him to be.”
All of our lives are deeply impacted by the relationships we have with our fathers. We all have more than one dad.
God is our Father.
He is our ultimate Dad, and nobody can be as good of a father to us as He is.
Psalm 107:1 (ESV)
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 145:9 (ESV)
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
Understanding God as our Father, solves so much in our lives. It helps us appreciate the good and helps us understand that no human could be what our heavenly Father is to us. This takes the pressure off, and allows us to be free to receive from the human fathers that we have. It helps us because we don’t place expectation on a person that only the Lord can fill. Our heavenly Father is the primary relationship in our lives.
God wants to express his fatherhood in our lives through other people. He will do this in different ways at different times. Spiritual parenting or mentoring is passing on what God would want to bless another person with.
2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV)
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
The experiences we have with our fathers has a lasting impact on our lives and who we become. God’s design is to put fathers in our lives to shape us in a positive ways. He never intended that a human father would be everything we needed, because He wants to be that for us.
7 Characteristics of a Great Father:
A father that loves the Lord.
You will never be the best Dad you could be until you have a relationship with the ultimate Dad expressing himself through us. The Lord wants to father through you, which will take you beyond your tendency and personality. Your effectiveness as a father is intimately connected to your connection with Him. He has the insight and strength that you need to father. Going to the Lord is the smartest thing you could ever do.
Deuteronomy 6:4–5 (ESV)
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Proverbs 14:26 (NIV84)
He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
A father who loves his wife.
The greatest gift a father can give his kids is to love their mother. Something gets imparted to kids when a husband treasures his wife. It is an impartation that comes from observing love acted out. Proverbs 5:18 tells us, “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Your children are watching.
Ephesians 5:25 (ESV)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
A father who loves his children.
Psalm 103:13 says, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” This word compassion means to show pity, love and concern for. Keep a soft heart toward your children and avoid harshness.
Children receive love by giving them our time. Love is spelled TIME. James Dobson cited a Cornell University study showing that fathers of preschool children on the average spend 37.7 seconds per day in real contact with their youngsters. In contrast, the study indicated that children watch television approximately 54 hours per week. Give your child your time.
A father is a spiritual leader.
One startling bit of research conducted by the Christian Business Men’s Committee found the following: When the father is an active believer, there is about a seventy-five percent likelihood that the children will also become active believers. But if only the mother is a believer, this likelihood is dramatically reduced to fifteen percent. (Keith Meyering, in Discipleship Journal, issue #49, p. 41.) When was the last time you had a good spiritual talk with any of your children?
Father’s inspire greatness.
Our job is to shepherd our kid’s heart and self-esteem. Whether they think they have value, we are to encourage them as they fail, face their fears, tell them how proud we are of them. Remind them that they have been created for greatness.
A father is one who builds guard rails.
Kids feel insecure without boundaries and guard rails. We are responsible for the well-being of our kids. This is moral, relational, ethical, and physical protection care for them.
Fathers bring their children up in the nurture and discipline of the Lord.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Bring them up translates “to nourish.” This emphasizes our obligation to meet our children’s needs, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. Discipline means to provide instruction, with the intent of forming proper habits of behavior. A home without rules is insecure and without love. A parent shows love and creates security by giving positive guidance and by setting limits on behavior and enforcing them.
Children learn our values in those critical moments when we choose what is most important. Children are most impressed when they see what we do in “crisis” moments, when there is an obvious conflict of interests and values and we have to choose one over the other. A young boy watches his Dad as he decided whether to spend time working on a pressing project or attending church. He is learning his values from those decisions.
In 1923, Edgar Guest wrote an article entitled “My Job as a Father.” May you be encouraged to leave a legacy that will produce long after you have departed this world.
I have known of a number of wealthy men who were not successes as fathers. They made money rapidly; their factories were marvels of organization; their money investments were sound and made with excellent judgment, and their contributions to public service were useful and willingly made. All this took time and thought. At the finish, there was a fortune on the one hand, and a worthless and dissolute son on the other. WHY? Too much time spent in making money implies too little time spent with the boy.
When these children were youngsters romping on the floor, if someone had come to any one of those fathers and offered him a million dollars for his lad he would have spurned the offer and kicked him out the door. Had someone offered him ten million dollars in cash for the privilege of making a drunkard out of his son, the answer would have been the same. Had someone offered to buy from him for a fortune the privilege of playing with the boy, of going on picnics and fishing trips and outings, and being with him a part of every day, he would have refused the proposition without giving it a second thought.
Yet that is exactly the bargain those men made, and which many men are still making. They are coining their lives into fortunes and automobile factories and great industries, but their boys are growing up as they may. These men probably will succeed in business; but they will be failures as fathers. To me it seems that a little less industry and a little more comradeship with the boy is more desirable.
Not so much of me in the bank, and more of me and of my best in the lad, is what I should like to have to show at the end of my career. To be the father of a great son is what I should call success. …This is what I conceive my job to be.
Chris (M.Div., Faith Evangelical Seminary) serves as the Lead Pastor of City Central Church and is deeply committed to seeing the Church empowered and restored. His call as a pastor and teacher is the training, equipping, and restoration of the saints. In addition, Chris serves as the director of Freedom Immersion trainings, which has taken him around the country and around the globe. Chris resides in Tacoma with his wife, Jena, and their four children.