Celebrating Godly Fathers
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding (Prov. 4:1).
The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him (Prov. 20:7).
Happy Father’s Day! Did you know that the Creator of the universe is proud to be our heavenly Father? In fact, God elevates the meaning of “father” to the highest degree possible by claiming it for Himself; and Jesus reminds us that, when we pray to God, we are to address Him in the most intimate and familial term of “Father.” Let me share a personal word about what it means to be a father.
I am a happy and blessed father!
My children gave their hearts to the Lord early in life, and as they grew they continued to follow Jesus. Today my children are grown, married, and rearing their own families. Happily, my sons and I continue to be the best of friends. I was honored when each of my sons asked me to officiate at their weddings, and pleased when each son asked his brother to be his best man. Wow!
What a blessing to have such love and unity among the men of my family. I no longer occupy the role of leadership and teaching that I filled in their lives when they were children. Now, by invitation, I occupy the role of counselor and friend to each of them. I am also privileged, when opportunity presents itself, to participate in the rearing of my grandchildren (Deut. 6:4-9).
Every day I pray that they will have hearts to love and serve Jesus, and grow up to be a blessing to their world, just as their fathers are (Prov. 22:6).
There is nothing more important to me than for my children and grandchildren (and someday perhaps great grandchildren) to love and serve Jesus. My desire is that this sermon will celebrate and encourage every father. Every Christian father wants to be the best father he can be.
Without doubt, all of us fathers feel the weight of responsibility of fatherhood, but seemingly very few people know how to encourage us. I hope and pray that my suggestions for effective fathering will be a blessing to every father who reads these words.
These are concepts and practices I did my best to incorporate into my efforts to be the best Biblical, godly father I could be (Eph. 6:4).
1. Sprinkle On Much Positive Affirmation
Take every opportunity to tell your children you love them. You may choose to use short statements like,
- “I’m so glad you are my son or daughter,”
- “I’m glad to be your dad,”
- “I’m so glad God chose me to be your dad.”
- “God has wonderful plans for your life.”
- “I love you soooo much!”
Positive affirmations like these help build self-confidence in the child and a sense of destiny. It also gives them the security that their father really loves them.
Try to focus your positive affirmations on the biblical character traits you wish to see your children develop. Compliment them on sharing with others, and on having a good attitude when told to do something or not to do something. Teach them the importance of finishing a task, and then praise them when they do it.
Perhaps the following analogy will be helpful. If we think about our children’s emotions in terms of a bank account, positive affirmations may be likened to making deposits.
When we have to correct or discipline our children, we are making emotional withdrawals. We need to make sure than we are making lots of positive deposits in order to counteract the withdrawals we must make as we train and correct them.
2. Use Consistent But Reasonable Discipline
I am convinced that “teenage” rebellion does not have to occur. I think a primary cause of rebellion is bitterness and a sense of not being allowed to express one’s feelings. It seems that everyone can remember times when they were falsely accused or got punished for something they did not do. Such incidents can cause resentment which may eventually lead to rebellion.
In order to minimize the possibility of wrongly correcting my children, from their viewpoint, I made an agreement with them. I promised not spank them unless they agreed that they deserved a spanking.
I made this agreement when they were old enough to understand concepts of obedience versus disobedience and were able to express
themselves. I did not want my children thinking that I got any pleasure or enjoyment from correcting them.
So I told them that I did not want to spank them. And I asked them to please not “ask me” to give them a spanking. I explained that when they chose to disobey deliberately, they were in essence saying, “Daddy, please spank me. I am out of control. I need a spanking to help me obey.”
I stressed the fact, “I don’t want to spank you.” But I assured them I would spank them if they insisted I do so. The choice would be up to them. If they chose to obey, they would receive no spankings and we would all be happy.
If they chose to disobey, they would be insisting that they needed a spanking to motivate them to obey. My children were quite pleased with this arrangement. It made it impossible for me to discipline my children if they felt they did not deserve a spanking.
Instead, it gave me an opportunity to review the behaviors and attitudes that were expected and ask them if they understood. When they could repeat to me what I was wishing to communicate, I was able to say to them, “Now, in the future, if you choose to do contrary to what we just agreed upon, what will you be asking me to do?”
The correct answer, of course, was, “Daddy, please spank me because I have deliberately chosen to do wrong, and need pain to motivate me to do right.”
If my children genuinely forgot (this is often difficult to determine), I would choose to remind them instead of spanking them.
3. Create and Maintain a Regular Weekly Family Time
I think all of us fathers would agree that our daily schedules are filled to the brim with both things we have to do (such as go to work) and things we ought to do (such as mow the lawn, wash the car, and pay the bills). This is excluding the things we would like to do if we had more time and sufficient money to do them.
As a result, it is easy to allow time with the children to get squeezed out of our schedule. This is why I am suggesting that you talk with your family and decide together which day would be the best day for a weekly family time.
My family decided that each Friday, from 3pm until 9pm would be our family time. We sat down together and compiled a list of things we could do during “family time.”
This included things like playing games together, going to the shopping mall, going out to eat at a favorite restaurant (that we could afford!), reading a book together, or other activities. We wrote each activity on a slip of paper and put them in a glass jar.
Then on Friday, a different member of the family would get to reach in the jar, pull out a folded piece of paper, and read to the rest of us what our family time activity would be. What excitement and fun we had together!
I will never forget the Friday when we decided to take a walk along the railroad tracks near our home and look for “treasure.” My wife, a science teacher, had thought of the activity, and that evening we all marched together looking for “treasure” along the railroad tracks.
We discovered the skeleton of a small animal and Nadine showed us what we could learn from the bones. We found nuts, bolts, and other small objects that interested the boys.
We also rediscovered the physics principle that sound follows a speeding train, and very little sound precedes it—so we decided this was not an activity it was safe to repeat!
4. Take Time Each Week to Talk Privately With Them About Their Walk With God about their walk with God
I think we would all agree that the most important thing any of us can do as human beings is to love and serve Jesus. God promises all Christians that He will actively work in the midst of everything that happens to us for our good (Rom. 8:28). He also explains in Romans 8:29 that the “good” is not things like health, happiness, friends, a job, money, or other benefits that are properly called “blessings.”
Although He chooses to bestow many blessings upon His children, God is talking about our developing of Christ-like attitudes and character qualities when he promises to work in the midst of all things for our “good.”
Seek to find a moment of quiet time with each of your children each week and simply ask them,
- “How are you and Jesus getting along this week?”
- “How are things going for you spiritually?”
- “Is there anything I can help you pray about?”
- “Are you remembering to read your Bible each day?”
- “Do you need to tell Daddy anything?”
- “How are you and I doing?”
- “Have I hurt you or been unfair to you in any way?”
Reassure each child that you would never knowingly wish to hurt their feelings or to be unfair to them in any way. Listen to what they say. Keep the channels of communication open!
You are one of God’s greatest gifts to your children—their father.
May God bless each of you and strengthen and encourage you as together we celebrate “Father’s Day.”
Dr. Allan P. Brown teaches such courses as Christian Beliefs, Doctrine of Holiness, Wisdom Literature, Hebrew, Preaching Holiness, Romans and Galatians, and Letters to the Hebrews.
He has been on faculty at GBSC since 1996 and is the author of several books and articles.
Dr. Brown also speaks at churches, camp meetings, revivals and more.