Let me speak very frankly from my heart. I am a father with grown up children and quite a few of them! We don’t have to go into all the details now. I cannot claim to be the ideal father nor the best father that the world has seen. Although over the years I have collected a stack of cards, plaques, coffee mugs and other mementos presented by my children. They claim that I am the best. I have always questioned the veracity of that claim. I am also one of those who in the pursuit of my growing ministry and related travel missed quite a bit of their growing up years.
I am sure many fathers my age who read this feel the same way. No matter what, as fathers we always feel we have not done enough. We wish we could have given a little more of our time and energy. We wish we could have loved them a little more, or we wish we could have disciplined them a bit more. We wish we hadn’t missed out on so much of our children’s growing up years. I must confess that there have been times when I have felt utterly worthless as a father. On the other hand there are also times when with much gratitude I am able to look back and honestly say, “I don’t know what I did well but my children turned out great.”
Then, you may be a younger father with young children and you are asking, “How can I be the best?” What I am trying to say is that there is no fixed formula that can be applied which in turn will produce angels. Nevertheless, the Bible lays down several fundamental principles for Christian fatherhood that can produce godly individuals. Let me briefly highlight a few of those, not necessarily in the same order of priority as they are mentioned. They are not conclusive either. These broad yet fundamental guiding principles have over the years been of great help to me.
First, we must recognize that each one of them is uniquely created in God’s own image. The Bible teaches that we are ‘God’s workmanship (poiema- in Greek)’ meaning God’s masterpiece of creation (Ephesians 2:10). Each one has unique needs and responds to these needs in unique ways. Fathers must learn to recognize and address this uniqueness in each individual child. Secondly, we must understand that God loves our children and cares for them much more than we can ever do. Love them as much as you cannot love them anymore than you possibly can. Third, endeavor to live a life before your children honoring God in everything. Know that your life speaks louder than words. We have a heavenly father and we read in Matthew 5:48 that we must be perfect as He is perfect. Finally, for me one of the most difficult principles to learn and embrace, is: when time comes, release your children and hand them over to the care of their creator. God knows their future and it rests in His hands. Fathers are only caretakers for a relatively short period in the lives of their children. Of course, we can help, support, provide counsel whenever needed but we have no ownership over them forever. God does.
Read on. There is so much more in this issue of Revive on fathers and our role in not only bringing up our children but raising brilliant Christian leaders who can revive the Church. Fathers have a unique and significant role in the Kingdom.Be encouraged, be blessed. Sam Stephens