Being a father is one of the greatest blessings, opportunities, and challenges we face in life. It is pretty tough to find a dad whose children are older who will talk about what an easy job it is or how one ought to do it. We can usually offer the best advice when we don’t have children, our children are very small or when we are a long way from home and people don’t know much about how we really do. But, being a godly father is one of the most important responsibilities we have in life. It is truly one of the greatest ways we can change the future for good. One of the greatest tragedies in our world is the huge number of absentee fathers who leave their children to be brought up and shown the way by their moms. Praise God for godly mothers who try their very best to be both father and mother to their children but God never intended for a child to grow up without a dad at home to help them and train them.
One of the greatest passages of Scripture on the work of a dad is found in an unusual context. In I Thessalonians 2:11-12 it says, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” Paul in this same context describes his work among them as being like a nursing mother, so it isn’t exclusively about treating them like a father. But it sets for us a picture both of his work among the people in getting this new church on a solid footing and it demonstrates for us what the Holy Spirit led him to say about the work of a good dad.
If you are a father, have a father or know someone that is a father that you might pass this on to, focus with me on the three jobs he gives to dads in bringing up their children. By the way, I don’t think these three duties stop just because our children grow up. These things stand as our responsibility as long as we live and have children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
We are to encourage them. Let’s face it there is no lack of discouragement in the world, so they certainly don’t need to get an extra dose of it from their dads. To encourage involves several things. First, it is the idea of filling with courage. Second, it is to build them up in the good things of life, to tell and show how much we believe in them and what they can do that is good and right. Third, to encourage is to be there for the child, to listen to their hurts, to share and forgive mistakes and let them know that you believe in them and what they can accomplish. Fourth, and most important of all, if we are to encourage well, it will involve pointing them to God Almighty, showing them that living for Him brings fullness, peace, and meaning to life.
Fathers are to be ones that comfort their children. There has never been a child growing up that hasn’t been hurt, disappointed and gotten down because of things not going the way they thought they would or should. Imagine a child involved in sports as they are learning the game or as they are playing as one who has been on the team for years. There will be times when the very plays that have seemed easy before, don’t work and they mess up and even get hurt. That father that uses such times to ridicule their child and tell them to “grow up” or “be a man” is working for the devil in hell rather than the Lord. They don’t need anyone else to tell them of their mess-ups and failures. They need a father who will walk beside them when others won’t. They need a dad that will listen to all of how they feel and say, “I understand how you feel and have felt that way many times myself.” I know we often have that mentality that mothers are to be the comforters and dads the disciplinarian, but both need to fulfill both responsibilities for a child to have a great set of parents.
Fathers are to urge their children to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. Teaching and training a child in the way they should go involves helping them to know the right from the wrong, the good from the bad and the understanding and will to live the way God wants us to live no matter what everyone around us may think or say. If we do well at urging our children to live worthy of the Lord, it is completely necessary that we walk that life ourselves. The notion I can live like the devil and tell my children to not do as I do but as I say is simply a way of fooling ourselves and making us feel better. It does nothing but harm to the child. When fathers lead their family as part of the kingdom and glory of God, they are being exactly the kind of father their child needs and the kind of dad God calls us to be.
Today, would you join me in a prayer for every dad in the world? “Gracious and loving Father in heaven, it is such a blessing that you would allow us to share with you in being fathers and that you trust us to bring our children up for you. Father, it is both a rich blessing and a scary responsibility when we think of what all is necessary to be a good dad. I pray for every father in this world today that you would help us to know our importance in our children’s lives and that we can’t fulfill that need without being there with and for our children. Father help every dad to know that the best thing they can do for their children is to love their mother with all their being and teach them how to live as husbands and wives and parents in the family. I pray there will be a complete turn around in the world and there will not be absentee fathers or fathers that abandon their children due to their own selfish thinking. Father, please open our eyes as dads to see the glorious opportunity you have given us in mold our own children for you and to lean on you to lead them in the way to live with and for you forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.