When a godly husband and wife have children, one of the most important roles the man has is to be a godly father. Many can say they experienced life with a godly father, many others the lack or absence thereof. As any father can attest to, it’s a tall order to be the kind of father God calls them to be. With our society emasculating men, with the world trying to destroy the concept and role of a biblical father, with temptations blasting against fathers from multiple directions desiring to break us down, with competing voices of what a father should be like desiring to distract and confuse us, with struggles in child rearing within and what seems like an ever increasing amount of responsibilities pulling in directions away from their family, with more and more plates to keep spinning to keep the family afloat, with critics seemingly around every corner, being a godly father is ever so challenging.
Yet, though sometimes it may feel like it, God doesn’t leave men in the stress and strain of fatherhood on their own. God is and always has been with us every day, every step of the way. His presence and sustaining grace in us is vital, as is the perfect example our Heavenly Father sets before us in His Word as to what godly fathers should look like. In addition, a godly wife is and should be a great encourager and supporter of her husband and father of their children. God has also graciously provided us other brothers to walk with us and sharpen us to be men, to be godly fathers journeying the mountains and valleys of fatherhood together.
This is ever so helpful, isn’t it? For none of us desire to be dead beat dads. None of us entered into being a father only wanting to be checked out and uninvolved with our children. We know that our children are gifts from God to us. We must be good stewards of them. Therefore, we desire, by the grace of God, to be the best father for our children. So, what should that look like? What does God teach us should be characteristic of such a father? Here are six to consider:
• Knows his heavenly Father: This is where it must begin, men. It’s a wonderful and good thing to know, have relationship with, and be known by your heavenly Father. It’s good and right to be loved and under His care as His sons, to listen to Him in His Word, to take His instruction to heart, to obey Him, to be nurtured and provided for by Him, to be disciplined by Him. In fact, your understanding and experience of God’s care of you provides a foundation from which you serve your children. Know that your relationship with God is also a real life example to your children regarding their own relationship with Him. Think about this and prayerfully seek to grow in your relationship with and knowledge of God. Be a good student of Christ, and teach your children to be the same!
• Loves and honors his wife: There are many reasons why it’s important that a father loves his children’s mother, especially in the presence of his children so that they hear and see evidence of that love. Can your children see that you love and honor your wife? Children need to observe and watch a healthy relationship grow through the ups and the downs of life. This will help them learn from and imitate healthy interaction with their spouse in their future marriage. Also, when a godly father honors and loves his wife, that also models and encourages children in honoring and loving their mother well. Keep in mind that even if a man is divorced or single, he can still model respectful behavior toward his child’s mother; if he is remarried, he can demonstrate a loving relationship with his current wife.
• Takes responsibility to lead his family: Biblical leadership should be fueled by a heart of service, not the control of a tyrant. A godly father seeks to go first and set the pace for his family as he serves them. A godly father resists the temptation to be lazy. He doesn’t pass the buck and punt his responsibility to lead and shepherd his children to another. Again, a grave consequence of men being emasculated and effeminate today is that they then fail to lead, intentionally even. A godly father desires to lead his children as the Good Shepherd leads him. He doesn’t leave his children to themselves (Proverbs 29:15). A godly father watches and protects his family from dangers and evil. He leads his family in making sure they attend church regularly, sitting under the ministry of the Word. He leads them in family worship. He leads them away from sin and worldliness. A godly father leads by working hard and making sure his family is provided for. He leads by using his gifts in service to the church. He leads other men to follow his example. He is a man that his children can be proud of (Proverbs 17:6).
• Takes responsibility for the training of his children: A godly father is eager to learn from his Lord and pass the wisdom he gains through instruction and life experience to his children. He calls them to listen to him (Proverbs 1:8). He ensures his children are well trained in the ways of the Lord. Though his wife be heavily involved in educating and training their children, a godly father doesn’t kick back and let his wife do the work that he should be doing as well. Rather, he sees his God given responsibility, knows it, and owns it. He steps forward with courage, blazing the trail, training his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Own your duties, brothers, and carry them out for God’s glory (Proverbs 22:6).
• Disciplines his children appropriately: As God disciplines us as His children, so we must biblically discipline our children that they would grow in a manner that’s pleasing to the Lord through both instruction and correction. A godly father knows that “the rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15) A godly father, out of love for his children, is willing to use that rod and rebuke and discipline them promptly (Proverbs 13:24). It’s all too easy to delay discipline, to put it off, or to avoid it and not do it at all. But, a godly father knows what biblical discipline is, knows why it’s necessary, and is therefore willing and ready to carry it out in accordance with God’s Word. Brothers, never forget the words of Proverbs 29:17, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” Such a blessing from the Lord for faithfulness in discipline.
• Spends time with his children: With the fast pace of the day to day, the often long work hours, along with many other people or things vying for our time, it’s often easy for fathers to sacrifice and put off quality time with their children. Yet, that time is vital and limited in ages and stages of their lives. Therefore, godly fathers must seek to keep balance in their time and attention. Set the right priorities, brothers. Make sure you have quality time with your family, investing in them. Make sure when your home, your not physically present, but tuned out, busy, or distracted mentally to truly be with them. They need all of you!
I know these recent devotions have laid out what may feel like tall orders, week after week. But i pray they have been helpful to you, as biblical truth and guidance is so important and needed for the integrity and impact of the Christian family today! Fathers, though the world try their hardest to tear you down, confuse you, mislead you, and destroy you, never forget that your heavenly Father is sovereignly at work encouraging, strengthening, and building you up to do what He’s called you to do well.
Keep your eyes and focus on Him. Seek to imitate Him and His fatherly care. Lift up your head and your hearts to your Lord, fathers. Prayerfully seek Him, asking Him to sustain and grow what is good, correct and build what needs to change, and give you great joy as you love and serve your children more and more in the days ahead!