Happy Father’s Day! On this day, we set aside some time to say, “Thank you,” to dads. Whether you’re a biological father, an adoptive father, a grandfather who is helping raise his grandchildren or simply a man who has taken a fatherly role in the life of a younger person in his life, you play a pivotal role in God’s design for humanity.
Did you know the first establishment that God ever made was the family? Thousands of years before He launched His church, He made the family in the Garden of Eden. Who did He make first when creating the family? Adam. The husband and the father. It’s important to understand that this order of creation doesn’t make men anymore important than their wives or children, but it does mean that men bear a greater responsibility in the eyes of God.
Thankfully, we have a wonderful point of reference for how to be Godly fathers: God Himself. In Paul’s letters alone, God is referred to as our Father more than 40 times! Clearly, this is an attribute of God that He wanted to be sure that we understood. On this Father’s Day, let’s take a deeper look at God’s role as our Father and the lessons we can learn from that role He plays in our lives.
God Cares for the Fatherless
Psalm 68:5-6 (TPT)
To the fatherless He is a father. To the widow he is a champion friend. T o the lonely he makes them part of a family. To the prisoners he leads into prosperity until they sing for joy. This is our Holy God in his Holy Place! But for the rebels there is heartache and despair.
When David was penning a Psalm about God’s passion for the most vulnerable among us, he started by declaring that God is a Father to the fatherless. There are multiple verses throughout Scripture where God commands His people to care for those without fathers. Why? Because God recognizes the importance of a father’s role in the life of younger people. Check out these statistics about children who have a father involved in their lives:
• They are 39% more likely to earn mostly A’s in school
• They are 45% less likely to fail a grade
• They are 60% less likely to be suspended or expelled
• They are twice as likely to go to college and find stable employment after high school
• They are 75% less likely to have a teen birth
• They are 80% less likely to spend time in jail
(All stats are according to the University of Texas’ Department of Child and Family Research.)
It is crucial that you are actively engaged in the lives of your children. However, if we want to be Godly fathers, it’s also important that we provide a fatherly influence to those in our lives who don’t have an actively-engaged fathers. Whether this is a niece or nephew, grandchild or a family friend, children need father figures. God is a Father to the fatherless and wants us to exhibit the same qualities.
God Molds His Children
Isaiah 64:8 (ESV)
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Have you ever seen a lump of clay before it gets turned into something beautiful? It’s not really anything special to look at. In fact, if you don’t know anything about pottery, you would assume that a lump of clay is nothing more than that: a lump. However, the potter sees the potential in the clay when everyone else just sees a useless lump. Similarly, God sees the potential in His children even when nobody else does.
As a father, you should look for the potential in your children. No, they won’t be good at everything and that’s OK! As an involved father, it’s your job to help your children develop their skillset so they can tap into their full potential. In addition to helping your children identify their skills, you’re also called to help mold them into men and women of God who will have a divine impact on the next generation.
When you are actively engaged in the lives of your children, you help mold them just like a potter molds the clay. In a similar fashion, God has molded you into the man that you are today.
God Is Compassionate Toward His Children
2 Corinthians 6:18 (TPT)
I will be a true Father to you, and you will be my beloved sons and daughter,” says the Lord Yahweh Almighty.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “compassion” as “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” With that definition in mind, it makes this verse from 2 Corinthians even more powerful. Did you realize that God doesn’t just want to be a part of your greatest moments? He isn’t only interested in being your Father when you’re experiencing success. He is equally as engaged in your moments that leave a lot to be desired.
Similarly, your job as a father isn’t just to celebrate your child’s success, but also to commiserate with them in their failures. If you’re ready to applaud your child when he or she makes the team, you should be just as eager to console them when the coach tells them to come back next year and try again. When you are ready to praise them for all A’s on a report card, you should be just as ready to encourage them when the final exam doesn’t go so well and the grade reflects it. Compassion is at the heart of God. Several times in Scripture, we read that Jesus was “moved with compassion” before ministering to people. Similarly, we should be moved with compassion towards our children and ready to minister to them.
God Corrects His Children
Hebrews 12:6 (ESV)
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
Over the course of human history, we have somehow confused the relationship between love and discipline. Discipline is not equal to abuse, and adults who treat is as such are acting completely contrary to God’s design for parenting. God disciplines His children, but He does so as a sign of His love for them. He disciplines His children because He wants the best for them.
Similarly, it’s crucial that you discipline your children. However, it’s more important that you do so in the right way. When your children mess up (and they will most certainly mess up), it’s not an opportunity for you to berate them, belittle them, and abuse them physically or emotionally. Instead, it is an opportunity for you to instruct them on how they can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
In addition to instruction, there can be consequences. The way that you discipline your child depends on your child and the situation at hand. There is no cookie cutter version of how to handle misbehaving children. However, asking God for wisdom about how to handle those moments of disobedience is a great start. Once you’ve done that, you can better approach the disciplining of your child. God uses our moments of failure as a way to teach us. In the same vein, you should approach your child’s missteps as an opening for a teaching moment and a way to show them the unconditional love that your Father extends to you.
On this Father’s Day, know that you are appreciated. Even if your child doesn’t seem to appreciate your presence in their lives (children can seem ungrateful), he or she will eventually understand the important role that you played in their upbringing. Your job is simply to act Christlike in your interactions with your child. God has provided a flawless example of Fatherhood, which means your job is to simply follow in His footsteps the same way that your children will follow in yours.
A Closing Prayer:
God, thank You for my child/children. I know that they are a blessing from You. I also thank You for trusting me enough to allow me to raise them. Help me to show them Your love, Your grace, and Your forgiveness as I seem to live a life that is pleasing to You while pointing them towards Your truths. In Christ’s name, Amen!