God’s word clearly teaches that the family is the essential building block of society. The family spoken of is both biological and spiritual. My wife, children, and other relatives make up my biological family. My spiritual family is made of every believer who has, is, and ever will exist, and in a practical day-to-day sense, my local church family, Crosswinds. Dads play a significant role in both families.
I heard the story about a guy who stopped by the grocery store to pick up a couple of items. As he walked the aisles, he passed a father shopping with his toddler son, who was totally uncooperative. As he passed, he heard the boy asking over and over again for a candy bar. He listened to the father say, “Now, Billy, this won’t take long.” He came across them in another aisle, and the man’s son was a few octaves higher in his agitation. The young boy’s father quietly said, “Billy, just calm down. We will be done in a minute.” Later he passed this same father and son, with the son screaming uncontrollably. The dad was still keeping his cool. In a very low voice, that dad was saying, “Billy, settle down. We are almost out of here.” Eventually, this man reached the check-out counter just as this father and his son. The boy was screaming and flailing. The dad gave no evidence of losing control. He very calmly said, “Billy, we will be in the car in just a minute, and then everything will be OK.” The guy was so impressed with this father that when he left the store, he ran up to the dad as he was saying, “Billy, we’re done. It’s going to be OK.” The guy said to the patient father, “Sir, I couldn’t help but watch how you handled little Billy. You are an amazing dad.” The dad replied, “You don’t get it, do you? I’m Billy!”
I love the title of one of Dr. Dobson’s books: Parenting Isn’t For Cowards. As a Dad of three, I, too, know that raising kids is not for the faint of heart. Good fathers are made, not simply born. For a man to be a good father, he needs a model, an example of a dad that can serve as a pattern to follow. There is a perfect Father that all men can model themselves after. I am talking about the only perfect Father, our heavenly Father. We can learn much about fatherhood by looking at God.
We discover in Scripture that our heavenly Father loves his children (see: 1 John 4:9 & Romans 5:8). God’s love for us is complete and constant. We also discover that our heavenly Father encourages His children. God believes in His children. He sees the things we can do, and He encourages us to go out and do them. As parents, it is important to watch our words to make sure we encourage and not discourage our children. (see: Ephesians 4:29). Then, we discover that our heavenly Father disciplines His children (see: Deuteronomy 8:5 & Proverbs 3:12). The Father, who wisely and lovingly disciplines his child is reflecting the perfect character of God (see: Hebrews 12:10-11).
It is the responsibility of dads to bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord, displaying love, encouragement, and discipline (see: Deuteronomy 6:7). Fathers can either train and instruct their children following God’s example, presenting our children with a proper picture of God or the wrong way, creating misconceptions about God. The former assists a child in coming to know the Lord and the later repelling them by offering a marred image of the one true God.
Dads need to remember that there is one perfect God. But, there is a powerful witness every imperfect father can have when allowing themselves to be perfected by the Lord. It is also essential for dads to remember that God is a God of grace. We all need God’s forgiveness and grace, just like all of us need His wisdom. He gives these freely to those who humbly come to Him as Savior and Lord. No dad will father perfectly, but we can point our children to our perfect heavenly Father.
Let me encourage every dad. You have a significant role to play in the lives of others. God’s grace is available to you. So too is His wisdom to all who humble themselves and ask. Keep your eyes on the Lord and invite others to follow you as you follow Him. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!