By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
As Father’s Day approaches, it is a great time to reflect on being a father. For the past nineteen years, one of the greatest joys of my life has been raising my children. It has not always been easy, but I would not exchange it for anything in this world. While Father’s Day doesn’t get the same amount of fanfare as Mother’s Day, we know your role as a father is critical in your children's lives. So, as we take a moment to celebrate fathers, I want to share with you four lessons on fatherhood in the Bible and pray they will be an encouragement to you.
1. You are setting an example that will follow your kids.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” - Ephesians 5:25
You are probably wondering if we are talking about fathers, why am I bringing up husbands? This verse highlights one of the father's most important roles in the household. If you are married, you must show your wife genuine love. In your home, your wife is not just your wife. She is also your children’s mother. When you recognize that, then this can help you learn one of the greatest lessons on fatherhood. How you love your wife will not only affect her but also your children as well.
If you are a father with daughters, how you love them and their mother will help define love and how it looks and feels. Your love for them will help them see that love does not come with conditions, nor is it selfish. Love means you are responsible for the household and take care of those under your roof.
I have a daughter, and very early on, I realized I would be the first man she would ever love. The way I love her and the way I love her mom will leave a lasting impression as she gets older and hopefully finds love on her own. I have learned from conversations with women whose fathers were absent how it caused them to seek in men what they did not receive from their fathers. If you are a father of daughters, how you love them will help position them to have healthy relationships as they grow up.
For fathers who have sons, the same thing applies. You are teaching your son how to love and treat a woman. One day, your son may get married and have his own wife. Would you want your son to love his wife the way you love his mother? If you can’t say yes, you have some work to do because you are setting an example that will follow your kids. Hopefully, should he marry, he will love his wife the way Christ loved the church. How wonderful that would be if he did that because of your example.
For single or divorced fathers, nothing changes. While your children’s mother may not live under your roof, you should still show her the same kind of love. Always remember your children are watching, and while you may not have as many opportunities, make sure you set the right example when you do.
2. You can be your child’s greatest inspiration or greatest hindrance.
“Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children [with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by favoritism or indifference; treat them tenderly with lovingkindness], so they will not lose heart and become discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken].” Colossians 3:21 AMP
As a father, you play a major role in developing your child’s confidence. While you want to teach, how you teach is equally important. As a teacher, you should not be a disciplinarian but an encourager and a motivator. Your children are going to make mistakes, and so will you. However, it is how you use those mistakes that can either inspire or hinder your child. As fathers, it is okay to admit when you are wrong. It is okay to be tender and gentle. This does not mean you don’t discipline when necessary, but you do it to improve your children and not release your frustration. Remember, you have the potential to inspire your child to greatness or hinder them from becoming great. The road you choose to take is all up to you.
3. You don’t have to be a perfect father, but you must be a present father.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Deuteronomy 31:6
The greatest example of fatherhood in the Bible is our heavenly father. Therefore, we can learn the greatest lessons on fatherhood in the Bible by looking at how our heavenly father treats us. One lesson that comes from God is the promise of his presence. God has declared that wherever you go, I will be there for you. In short, I am going to be present in your life.
What I have learned from God’s example as a father is how important it is to be present in the life of my children. This is true for you as a father in your children’s life. Being present means you are available, actively involved, and not just a passive onlooker. Children are not looking for perfect fathers; children are looking for present fathers. The one thing God reassures us time after time is his presence. His being with us gives us confidence that everything will be okay. While I can’t be like God, I can be present in my children’s life, and so can you. Part of that is making your children a priority and showing up for the moments in their life. This will require sacrifice, but as your children get older, these are the things they will never forget.
4. You only have them briefly, so make it count.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” - Genesis 2:24
While you will always be a parent to your children, you will not always be parenting. One of the most important lessons on fatherhood you can learn is your children will grow up quickly. That’s why all the moments you have now are important and should be treasured. However, don’t take any of them for granted. Sometimes, as men, we wrestle with priorities. After all, we are also providers and protectors. While that is part of your responsibility, if you never make room for your children because you are always “providing,” then one day, your children will grow up and be gone before you realize it. So don’t stop providing but realize sometimes the greatest things you give to your children are not the things you have to pay for.
To all the fathers out there, my prayer for you is the same prayer I pray as a father. That God would help you become the best father you can be. As I mentioned earlier, this will not always be easy, but embracing the role wholeheartedly will be one of the greatest decisions of your life. Your children will be forever grateful that you did.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/aldomurillo
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
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