There’s a growing tendency in our culture to minimize the importance of the father’s role in the family. In fact, there have even been studies that attempt to demonstrate the father’s place in the family is not that important to the family’s overall health and functionality. It’s just not true!
Of course, there are other ways families can rally to help offset the absence of a father. Thousands upon thousands of godly single moms labor faithfully to nurture their children toward healthy, productive adult life. But even these moms know their love and efforts aren’t enough, that their children need the balancing influence of a male presence. And thank God again for godly brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and others standing in the gap for children lacking their father’s presence. But those exceptions only help prove the rule: a father’s role isn’t optional.
Yet while a father’s role isn’t optional, it is temporary. One expert states that about 90% of a child’s personality has been set in place by age six. What that means, guys, is that every day counts. Every day that passes is a day fathers are impacting their children with some idea of what fatherhood is about’ideas that will greatly influence their understanding of what the fatherhood of God is all about. My point is this dads: be present, and live in the present.
I recently read three pearls of wisdom from a Christian educator that I want to share with you. They pertain to God’s command to parents to provide spiritual leadership for their children.
First, try not to go anywhere by yourself. Whenever you can, take one of your children with you. Errands, trips, sporting events’wherever a father goes with his children, opportunities arise to communicate spiritual truth and wisdom. You have to be in your children’s presence in order to influence them.
Second, don’t buy the lie that ‘quality’ makes up for ‘quantity’ when it comes to time spent with your children. Quantity of time is equally important. When a man becomes a parent he can write off the majority of the next twenty years of ‘free time.’ The majority of that time needs to be spent with his children.
Third, the best way a father can love his children spiritually and emotionally is by loving their mother spiritually and emotionally.
In other words, a father’s spiritual leadership is more about lifestyle than specific, scheduled events. It requires bringing a deep love for God to your everyday life: meals, walks after supper, bike rides, games, earning and saving money, serving those less fortunate, and so on. All these things’and every aspect of life’can be skillfully ‘exploited’ for the benefit of spiritual development if only dads will learn to see and seize their opportunities.
Let me suggest three things that every father can focus on today’and everyday’that are mandatory for accomplishing God’s purposes in the lives of your children.
First, fathers must love God. The only way you can be assured your child will learn the most important truths in life’truths about living with faith, obedience, and joy as a follower of Jesus’is knowing those truths yourself and assuming the responsibility for teaching them to your children. You can’t give what you yourself don’t possess.
Second, fathers must love their own fathers. I know for many men that’s a tall order’and often for very good reasons. Nonetheless, being a good father means being a loving son. If your father hasn’t, can’t, or won’t provide the love you need from him, you must get it from God Himself. Fathers must find healing for their own broken hearts to prevent breaking the hearts of their children.
Third, fathers must love their wives. Parenting is a partnership. And nothing will embitter children more than living with a mother who’s been turned resentful by the callous affections of their father.
If you as a father will set your hearts on these three loves, all the other details of raising children will work themselves out.