As a young father, I did not fully take on the mantle of spiritual leadership in the home. Fortunately, our Good Father is patient and forgiving. These 5 Essentials for Fathers is what I would do differently today. ◊
As I’ve mentioned, if I had to do it all again I’d be a different kind of Dad. I was a pretty good Dad, but I got better at it as I grew older. I was actually really making it all up as I went along, recalling my own father’s humble attempt at the father role that he too inherited and assumed naturally without much guidance. He did okay.
Yes, that and good intentions got me pretty far.
It’s now rewarding for me to see my own two boys and son-in-law being really good and proactive Dads with their own children, our 10(!) grandchildren. What’s different is the deliberateness in their raising of these children in the ways of the Lord. As all children should be improved versions of their parents, both my wife and I are very pleased to see and experience the upgrades.
Deliberate, Honest Faith
It’s all about being deliberate and honest with your Christian faith. For instance, given the chance to do it again, I’d share more of my daily struggles with work or decision options and processes with my kids and family. Perhaps at the dinner table; perhaps on a car drive; perhaps while making them breakfast or lunch. Like I might say:
“Dad got really frustrated with someone today at work. I actually said some things in anger that were not very nice or kind. Tonight I’m going to ask God to forgive me. Tomorrow I’m going to go to that person and ask them to forgive me.”
Now understand, that never happened, because I never would have admitted it to my kids! Nor would I have asked God for forgiveness, and never would I have asked the other person to forgive me. It’s very nice in that I already see my kids having these types of honest discussions with their kids.
My problem was that a real and surrendered Christian faith would have suited me better. Yes, I went to church and took the family. But I didn’t fully take the mantle of spiritual leadership that I would now grasp wholeheartedly if I had another crack at it. Fortunately we are the creation of a loving and patient Good Father who models for us infinite love, grace and mercy that we can pass on ultimately to our own children.
With that in mind, this Father’s Day Weekend I humbly submit what I today consider to be 5 Essentials to be a great and effective father.
5 Essentials to Be a Great Father
- Love God, Then 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 commandment, loving your fellow man comes after loving God.
- 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.
- Love Your Children, More Than Yourself – Children need their father so much and 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.
- Love Your Family, with a Vision – A great 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.
- Pray for Your Family, Every Day – 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.
A Father’s Prayer
To go along with these 5 essentials, here’s guidance on a father’s daily prayer:
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.
Yes, God is the model as our Good Father. May His Word and Spirit guide us men, young and old, to be good and even great human fathers.
Have a Happy Father’s Day this weekend and every day!
NOTE: I’ll be delivering an online video Father’s Day Sermon this Sunday at Mercy Hill Church in San Jose, CA.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him… – Psalm 103:13