It’s unfortunate that the subject of good and poor fathering is not taught or even discussed much in schools. Who would set the standard? Fortunately, the Bible provides very clear guidance, if not a checklist, for good fathering. ◊
As another Father’s Day approaches I am reminded of the key essentials to being a good father. We all were fathered by a man (present in our lives or not); we perhaps have become a father of one or more children; we have perhaps watched our own sons become fathers; and we all have certainly observed or read about other fathers around us throughout our lifetimes.
When you consider it that way, there are actually lots of examples of good and poor fathering that we have all observed over time.
Unfortunately the topic of fathering is not taught or even discussed in schools. Can you imagine a Guide to Good Fathering module being taught in an American public high school? It’s very hard to imagine because unfortunately there would be an immediate block on who sets the standard of good or bad fathering.
While the Bible actually sets the standard, it’s not so easily laid out in a step-by-step fashion. One can deduce good fathering practices via good father Biblical models (Abraham), proverbial guidance in wise fathering (Proverbs), and teaching tenets of Godly knowledge, actions, and behaviors (Jesus and Paul), the essentials of a good father can be reduced to some fundamental keys.
What follows here are 5 Keys to Good Fathering as well as a Good Fathering Prayer.
5 Keys to Good Fathering
Here are the essentials to being a great and effective father:
- Love God, Then Love Man – A great and effective father loves the God of the Bible and seeks His favor, not the favor of Man in this world. One may be a good provider, kind and loving, but if he is not aligned with his Creator and does not know Jesus as Savior, then he has made the “big miss” in life and will not be able to lead his family to spiritual Truth. Per Christ’s very specific commandment, loving your fellow man comes after loving God, not the other way around. (Matthew 22:37-39)
- Love Your Wife, More Than Your Work – A great father loves and cherishes his wife, even more than his work or vocation where he typically receives his glory and approbation. A sign of his true love is to cherish and honor the mother of his children with choices of sacrifice reflecting balanced priorities and Christian values. Kids have a way of picking up on conflict between their parents. This can greatly impact a child’s own sense of security and future healthy relationships. Disputes are often steeped in issues of pride and selfishness. Forgive and assess your own flaws and guilt. God’s mercy extends to both husband and wife. (Ephesians 5:25-33)
- Love Your Children, More Than Yourself – Children need their father so much; a great father knows this and steps into this responsibility headlong. He puts his children first and relishes his role to not just love them but to raise them in the ways of God. He is unselfish in his commitment to love his offspring beyond his own needs. Consider a habit pattern of spending at least 15 minutes with each child alone daily. Yes, daily. It’s doable. Could be playing a game, playing catch, reading, talking, biking, coloring, walking – something, anything where they get your undivided attention. This will forever change their lives and perspective about their Dad, and the type of father they’d want to be or have for their own children someday. (Psalm 127:3-5)
- Lead Your Family, With a Vision – A great father needs to take the helm and lead his family, modeling humility, humanity, discipline and honor. Your children will thank you later (years later), but thank you nevertheless. A father loves his family as a gift from God and a legacy for the world. He projects an admiration for his family, not just with a view for today, but with a vision of godly impact for generations to come. His family reflects his vision and is a glory and testimony to God. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
- Pray for Your Family, Everyday – A great father knows the source of his greatness and strength: God. He connects with God through deliberate prayer, nothing rote or repetitive, but in heartfelt natural words fully devout and sincere in wholehearted surrender neither random or haphazard. His prayers for his wife, children, and his children’s children are a reflection of his humble submission to and recognized blessings from his own Good Father. (John 17:15)
A Father’s Prayer
Regardless of training and upbringing, we all can come to God in prayer, even as skeptics. In your own privacy, simply talk to God verbally about your children and pray for their protection, their future, their hearts and minds to be molded with wisdom, love, truth, and the Spirit of God. Yes, the God that you yourself may just be starting to move toward. It’s a way of softening your heart – for your children’s sake, as well as your own:
Lord, I’m so thankful for the family You have given me. Thank you for (name your wife and each child and grandchild). I surrender all that I have and all that we are to You this day. Bless my family today, for as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. May each of us experience all the love and favor that You, the Good Father, would shower upon Your children. May we all have eyes to see and hearts to take in what You would have for us today. Give us each the opportunity to fulfill what You desire of us now and throughout our lives. Prepare us in mind, body, soul and spirit to be Your instruments for peace, love and impact in a needy world. Direct us on a path today that You have prepared. Keep us from distractions that would have us straying to the right or to the left, but on a focused path straight and true. Protect us all from physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual harm from enemies seen and unseen. May we be covered by Your hand so we may continue to grow and prosper as worthy servants of Your Kingdom. Give me strength and wisdom to lead this family in the ways of the Lord today and as long as You would have me in this role on this earth. Thank You, Jesus, for what You have done and what You are doing through my family today and for generations to come. I give You all the praise and honor. Amen.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him… – Psalm 103:13