The Paper Pulpit
In describing the role of fathers, Ham Mobley gave this description: “Between the joy of bridegroom and the pride of grandfather, we find a bewildered human being called a father. Fathers are not born and fathers are not made. They are merely something that happens when a wife becomes a mother ... Wives try to remake them, daughters have a way with them, and mothers still try to baby them ... Nobody is so eager for Friday and the weekend, or so thankful for Monday and the job. Nobody else buys Christmas presents so late, or reserves homecoming tickets so early. Nobody else gets as much pleasure out of giving away cigars, saying “She weighs seven pounds and two ounces” or hearing someone say “He sure favors his dad.”
What is a father? To some he is a biological incidental; to others he is an economic necessity; but the root meaning of the word “father” is “The source or prototype.” A father has also been described as “a man who gives his daughter away to another man who is not good enough for her so they can have children smarter than anybody’s.”
Fortunate indeed are the children who have the privilege of growing up to maturity under the influence of a father who personifies integrity and goodness and all those graces of character that God wants to see nourished and flourishing. It is not difficult biologically for one of the male gender to become a father, but what the world needs is more godly fathers.
If you are a father, the following suggestions will help you to be a godly father:
You must demonstrate that you have been born again.
The new birth is essential, first of all, if you are to be the best possible husband. Too many married men who go by the name of Christian do not demonstrate to their wives by the way they live that they have been born again by the Spirit of God. There is a huge difference between being a husband and being a Christian husband. It takes a Christian husband who has been born again to be a godly father.
You must have strong convictions. Moral deterioration is widespread in our culture. Multitudes of people who once had strong convictions concerning right and wrong have yielded to compromise and have sacrificed the principles taught in the Bible. People in high positions in government have been accused of and indicted for fraud, embezzlement, deceit, and other kinds of illegalities, and have then said “I am not guilty of any wrongdoing.” Centuries ago the Greek philosopher Diogenes walked through the streets of Athens with a lantern. Someone asked him what he was doing, and he replied, “I am looking for an honest man.” We need Diogenes to walk America’s streets today.
You must set the right kind of example. Here are four areas where a father’s example is extremely important: (1) In reverence and worship. The Bible gives to the father the primary responsibility for spiritual leadership in a home. Joshua said to Israel: “Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). (2) In truthfulness and speech. (3) In providing Christian discipline for children. (4) In demonstrating a Christian lifestyle. A man who is unfaithful to his wife and who rents pornographic films to watch at home shouldn’t be surprised when he learns that his teenage daughter is pregnant, or that his son has participated in such an arrangement. (5) In modeling compassion and forgiveness.
You must love your family. The family is the most basic unit of a stable society. A man who genuinely cares for his family is investing his affection in that which will pay the greatest dividends throughout life and for eternity. A man who genuinely loves his family will, with God’s help, be faithful to his marriage vows. When children know that their father loves their mother and is faithful to her in every relationship of life, they will have a much better chance to become emotionally and spiritually stable when they become adults. All the fishing and ball games or dance recitals will not suffice to bring love to children in a home if “daddy does not love mama.”
If you are a father, “Can your children see God in your life?”
The Rev. D.E. Parkerson is retired pastor of First Baptist Church of Sanford.