Posted by Gary on June 1, 2012
It’s funny what you think about while you wait for a medical procedure to start. As I waited for one the other day Harry Chapin’s, “Cats in the Cradle” started playing in my mind. Why? Who knows, but I am one who believes that as things come to mind, especially things that challenge it is wise to ponder.
Father’s Day is soon to be upon us. On that day millions of fathers will receive cards and gifts which is all very nice. I am always grateful for the homemade cards I receive from my children and my wife always gives me an encouraging card and nice present. Of course the purpose of Father’s Day is to recognize fathers and let them know we are grateful for them and we should be.
We all know how this works, everyone is told that they are a great father on father’s day. Every father is loving, every father is involved and every father has filled their wife’s and children’s lives with great memories. At least that’s what the greeting cards all say. But is it actually so with us?
Now, I am not out to drive all us fathers into despair for any father worthy of the name has many regrets and is much aware of his failings and neglect as a father. Yet, it is important for us to take inventory as Father’s Day draws near. Are we good fathers? Asking God to make us good fathers? Are we truly filling our wife’s and children’s hearts with special memories of our family life together? Are we loving? Patient? Teachers? Most of all, are we leading our wives and children to God? Can we with any degree of honesty receive a Father’s Day card and find its message true of us?
Let me mention some priorities for us as fathers as it comes to our privileged position:
Our first duty as fathers is to lead our wives and children to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason a father must know and love God Himself. God must be a man’s first love and priority. As fathers we must study and know God’s Word. We must be men of prayer. Men who live like we have a Master. Men who live to see others know Christ and men who are willing to pay every price to remain faithful to the truth of God.
Are we leading our family in worship? Taking them to the house of God? If fathers go to church, children will much more likely want to go. How can a father send his children to church and not go himself? Do we think that they don’t get the underlying message? “Dad, doesn’t go, so he really must think it is not important”. This is the father puffing on a cigarette while he tells his children that they should never smoke. Who are we kidding? Are we reading the Bible to our family and praying with them? Are our lives filled with the joy of salvation? How can a miserable, angry father lead his family to God?
Next, a good father is first a good husband. Little do we know how much we accomplish with our children by first loving our wives. In reverse, how much damage we do to our children by failing to love our wives. Do our children see us demonstrating love to their mother or harshness? Do we know that a harsh, unloving father is quite likely to produce a harsh, unloving son in his dealings with his wife? Do we see that our daughters are likely to gravitate toward a relationship with a man like she saw in her home? A man who loves his wife builds his children.
Involvement with our children is vital. We must take an interest in their interests and help them find new interests. Playing catch, riding bikes, camping and so on. Some argue that it is the quality of time that matters but quantity of time is equally important. Can we be found as fathers or are we distant, remote and self-absorbed? Remember this line? “My son turned ten just the other day. He said, “Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let’s play. Can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today, I got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s ok.” And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed, Said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah. You know I’m gonna be like him.”
As fathers we need to talk with our children about the world around them and what is happening in it and in their lives. Fathers should be a well of guidance that their children can drink from. Wisdom is necessary here because a father must be a teacher and teachers do not always just hand out the answer. Sometimes we must provide the immediate answer and other times we must allow our children to learn through experience while we follow behind to make sure not too much disaster happens.
Fathers are charged by God to discipline their children. God is the father above all fathers and He disciplines His children:
Hebrews 12:4-11 “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
Discipline is not always punishment though certainly at times it is. Discipline has to do also with instruction and training. An effective solider is disciplined. He must get up at certain times, exercise, be taught a skill and many other things or he will not be what he should be. Fathers must likewise discipline their children. Fathers must establish a pattern of life based upon God’s ways. Fathers should seek to make sure their children are Godly (do we make sure our children have time in the Bible and prayer?).
Fathers must give their children responsibilities and work to do and make sure they know how to do it properly. Respect for others, especially elders and authority must be taught and modeled by us as fathers. Are our children hard working or lazy? Do they understand they are obligated to provide for themselves or do they think everyone including the government owes them their livelihood? Do we allow our children to experience the consequences of their actions or are we always bailing them out of them? Do we realize that to keep our children from consequences in this life will lead them to think that they will escape God’s consequences in the next life? Our children are already inclined to walk the path to hell. Many fathers shove their children down that path by saving them from the consequences that God intends them to face:
Proverbs 23:13-14 “Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.”
Lastly, while we and our children live, we are fathers. Granted, our role changes as our children become adults and start their own families but our work as fathers continues to the grave. Our Christian example must continue to the end. God, keep us from faltering as we enter our later years.
Fathers must continue to be a source of wisdom to their adult children. Not nosey or intruding into our children’s lives but there for them as they seek our guidance. In a way we can parent twice through the influence we can have on our grandchildren. If we act wisely and again are not seeking to impose our wills on our child’s family, they will in most cases entrust their children to us (you know, babysitting!). We can then teach our grandchildren of Christ and many other life lessons.
Does this sound like an article written by someone who thinks he has it all together? Hardly. I see my sins and failures as I have written and they are many. I write with the vision of what I should be and my failures must not keep me from proclaiming what should be.
Men, may God make us fathers in some way as He is our Father: Perfect, wise, loving, firm and with our best interest always in mind. We can never be the perfect father as He is, but we can seek to be repenting of our sins and asking for the grace to resemble Him in our homes.
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