“The greatest gift I ever had came from God, I call him Dad”
The Bible teaches that several factors go into making a good father.
First, a good father Forges the character of his children. Prov. 22:6 states that if we train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it. The idea is to dedicate the child to the Lord, just as the temple was dedicated to the Lord (I Kings 8:63; II Chron. 7:5). The only way for this to be accomplished is for the father, himself, to be dedicated to the Lord. A father once told me, near tears, that he could not understand why his child was unfaithful because he, the father, did not drink, swear, hurt anyone, etc. But it takes so much more than merely not doing things as a parent. A good father will bring his children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-3). A good father forges, molds, and shapes the character of his children.
Second, a good father Administers proper discipline. One of the hardest things for a parent to do is to discipline a child. The old saying, “This hurts me more than it does you” may seem trite or quaint but it is literally true for a good parent. A father who loves his children does everything in his power to keep his children from harm and so it may seem counter-intuitive to discipline them, but this is sometimes necessary. The Bible teaches that the rod of correction will harm them much less than some evil way they might live (Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13,14). Eli failed this test as a father because he chose not to restrain his children even though they had made themselves vile (I Sam. 3:13). Because of this, God said he was going to perform a thing upon Eli’s house which would cause the ears of those who heard it to tingle (I Sam. 3:11-14).
Third, a good father Teaches his children about God. The children of Israel were to teach God’s word “diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deut. 6:7-9). Every waking moment was to be spent in teaching their children about God’s will. They were to make every word a lesson and every deed an illustration. Their faith was not to be superficial, not intermittent, not only when it was convenient. It was to be real, consistent and tangible. When fathers do not live this way, apostasy is only a generation away (Jud. 2:10).
Fourth, a good father Hearkens unto his child’s needs. Sometime parents do not listen to their children’s cries or do not know how to recognize them. Many children have done something reckless and even deadly because the parents could not recognize a desperate cry for help. Jesus said even an evil father knows how to give good things to a child that requests it (Matt. 7:9-11). Many times fathers project onto their sons what they wanted for themselves, maybe forcing them into a life they would not choose. This is sad when it happens and only alienates father and son later in life. But a good father will listen to his children, not just giving them anything they want, but listen to understand what they truly need. A man who does not provide for his house is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8).
Fifth, a good father Entreats God in prayer on behalf of his children. The Bible says Job went to God often for his children. “It was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:5). How powerful it is when a family prayers to God together! How powerful it is for children to see their father on his knees in prayer to God, with tears, for their spiritual and physical welfare. The old saying is true: The family that prays together stays together.
Finally, a good father Rejoices in his children. A good father recognizes that children are a gift from God (Psalm 127). To be responsible for the souls and lives of such precious little children, to see them grow into adulthood, to see them reflect all the love and attention given them through the years is a blessing, indeed. A father who does not care, who is not concerned about the fruit of his loins, who has no emotional connection with his children is a worse than a travesty. In our culture, when marriage is profaned and on the decline, when men father many children by many different women, when homosexuality is being promoted as normal, it is no wonder that children are left without fathers. But a man of true character will rejoice in his children.
I am so thankful for may own Dad who has taught me so much about life and who has given me so much of himself. He is my hero, my guide, my friend, my Dad.
Eric L. Padgett