First of all, let me say happy Fathers Day to all you fathers out there!
As a father of six wonderful children, today I found myself thinking about what fatherhood means, not just in a personal sense, either as a father or the having a father. But in the greater sense of God our heavenly father and us, his adopted children.
Despite 17 years of experience, I find I still have much to learn. Below are a few of the things I have grasped a better understanding on over the years and I wanted to share them with you.
1) As God is the Father of His creation, so we are the fathers of creation to the children we produce. As such, we have both the authority and responsibility to provide, care and love those that fall under our charge.1 Timothy 5:8 says “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
In this broken world, filled with many broken families it is all the more important to remind and encourage men to own up and accept their obligation to “be” there to care and provide for the children they create.
2) Fatherhood requires doing things that hare hard, sometimes what is best for our children is not always what makes them “happy”. Just as God disciplines us, Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Fathers need to be take the responsibility to discipline their children. When I think of discipline I think of taking the time to teach, instruct and, if necessary, punish my children so that they understand what is right and wrong in the sight of God, and have a desire to obey out of love and a belief that it is right, not a fear of doing what is wrong.
3) Teaching children. This is not always easy, if it were then I don’t think Paul would have had to write in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Sometimes our children frustrate us and our sinful nature can lead us to act out in ungodly ways. Thinking on the patience, love and perseverance that God demonstrates towards us, His wayward children, who, have constantly turned away from and disobeyed Him, is a strong example of how we should act, even when our children frustrate us.
4) Fatherhood is a blessing. Yes, it takes a lot of work to raise children, especially six of them. But the biggest changes I have impact that I have seen happen through being an active father, took place in me and not my kids. The process of teaching, caring, loving and raising children has given me a much greater understanding of the love God has for me. The pride I feel in seeing my children do well, in knowing that my life is not just about me, but it’s about the lives of those I touch, gives me a greater sense of the breadth and scope of God and eternity. Realizing that I am just a small part of life and a history that has been carrying on since long before me and will continue on long after, helps put my own problems in perspective.
5) We are called to be fathers to more than just our own children. Romans 8: 14-16 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
Yes, we have a responsibility to our own personal children, but the example that God shows us by adopting us into his family to become “children of God” shows us that that we cannot simply be content to just “father” our own children, but that we should enlarge the borders of our tents, to make room for those who have no fathers present in their lives.
We must remember that our religion is not pure or complete until we have reached out and cared for the orphaned and fatherless (James 1:27)
This list in not comprehensive or exhaustive, but I hope that it will move your heart, as it moved mine, towards greater gratitude towards my heavenly father, and greater action towards being a father.