Today, we celebrate Father’s Day!
I never imagined that this would become controversial, but according to Genesis, God created mankind. He created us male and female. He said that it was good. He created male and female to leave their father and mother, marry each other, and to become one. He said that it was good. He created male and female to reproduce creating children. He said that it was good.
If God calls all of this good, well it just makes good common sense to me to call it good as well!
There was, however, one thing that God said was not good. That was for man to be alone. Now you might notice that God’s solution to Adam’s loneliness wasn’t to just give him a bunch of other guys as buddies. No, God’s solution was to create woman.
Why isn’t it good for man to be alone or even alone with other men? Well, here’s just a few examples…
Although it isn’t good for man to be alone, it’s equally not good for children to be without their fathers.
Statistics show that fatherless homes account for 85% of children with behavioral disorders, 70% of adolescents in drug and alcohol treatment centers, 90% of all homeless and runaway children. Children raised in fatherless homes are five times more likely to live in poverty, girls are seven times more likely to become pregnant in their teen years, twice as likely to drop out of school, more likely to commit crime and end up in prison.
According to the census bureau, 18.4 million children, that’s 25%, live without a father in the home. That statistic would greatly increase if we were also able to take into account the fathers that live at home, but are considered absentee. Absentee fathers are those who are disengaged from raising their children either by the need to work many long hours or by choice.
Fatherlessness is a growing issue in our country and it’s not good. The impact of fatherlessness affects us all as a society! That’s why today, it’s especially important to recognize men who have chosen to step up and to parent children that aren’t their own biologically. If you’re a step-dad or are a foster or adoptive dad, please stand.
THANK YOU! for stepping up and being a dad to these kids!
Also, if you were raised by someone other than your biological father, please stand as well. Just take a quick look around and see how fatherlessness has impacted even our little church family here.
Beyond all of the social and economic issues that are created by fatherlessness, there is a spiritual impact as well. Paul wrote about his concern about spiritual fatherlessness to the church in Corinth:
1 Corinthians 4:15-17
15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians (tutors, teachers, instructors, guides) in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
Many are willing to tell you how to live your life. However, few are willing to live a godly life worthy of following. That’s what a father does. A father leads by example. Here are these same verses from The Message translation:
1 Corinthians 4:14-16 (MSG)
I’m writing as a father to you, my children. I love you and want you to grow up well, not spoiled. There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up. It was as Jesus helped me proclaim God’s Message to you that I became your father. I’m not, you know, asking you to do anything I’m not already doing myself.
A good father is not just one who disciplines and corrects their children when they do wrong. A good father is one who invests the time and effort into their children to show them how to live life well; a full life, an abundant life, a life worth living.
Our first good fathering tip is to: Live an example.
A good father is one who lives an example of godly living. It is a father who sets the example and doesn’t ask their children to live in a way that they are not themselves living. They don’t follow that old saying of, “Do what I say, not what I do.”
Jesus spoke out against the experts of the law for doing this very thing.
Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.
A good father doesn’t just teach their children what is right, they come along side of them and helps them to do what is right. They also first live it themselves. Here’s how the New Century Version translates this same rebuke of Jesus:
Luke 11:46 (NCV)
Jesus answered, “How terrible for you, you experts on the law! You make strict rules that are very hard for people to obey, but you yourselves don’t even try to follow those rules.
Of course, we’re not left to be a good father on our own, either. If we have placed our faith in Jesus for our salvation, we are by no means a fatherless people! No matter what our own earthly fathers may have been like, we have a good, good father available to us. We have the absolute best and perfect example for ourselves to follow; our own Heavenly Father.
He paid the highest price of His own Son so that He might place within our own lives the Holy Spirit; The Father’s own Presence. The Holy Spirit does not only convict us when we do what is wrong, but He guides and directs us into what is right. We were not abandoned and left as orphans, we have been adopted into a family and the Father’s Presence never leaves us! The Holy Spirit is our helper, our advocate, our counselor, our intercessor, our comforter and so much more!
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
6 God sets the lonely in families,
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Our second good fathering tip is to: Be present.
One of the most important jobs that a father has is simply to be there; to be present and available to our children. This sounds simple, but it is becoming more and more challenging to do. Just look around any restaurant and you’ll see that although families are sitting down for a meal together, they’re usually far from alone.
Thanks to smartphones, we may be physically there together, but not fully present and available, but instead are very divided. We drag along with us our jobs, our friends, our memes, our projects, the news, and just about anything else that we can think of to distract us.
We’re present, but our presence is divided. We’re there, but not entirely available. God is the only One who can truly be omnipresent; fully present and available to everyone all at the same time. We are very unipresent; we can only be fully present and available to one person or situation at the same time. Even if we are great multi-taskers, we can still only focus on one thing at any given time.
Our children need to know that they are a priority to us and nothing communicates that clearer than our presence.
That is an amazing thing about God. He always has time for us. We are always a priority to Him. He genuinely, authentically cares about us. He is a compassionate God. He already knows everything about us right down to the number of hairs on our head and yet He listens when we pray to Him. None of us could possibly be busier with more important tasks than our Heavenly Father and yet He takes time to be fully available to us.
Most of us are familiar with the scriptures that require children to obey their parents. However, we can’t neglect the verse that follows it.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Our final good fathering tip is to: Speak encouragement.
Fathers have a unique, God-given influence in their children’s lives to either build them up or tear them down; to lead them into boldness and courage or to leave them in bitterness and victimhood.
God doesn’t warn mothers or grandparents or aunts or uncles or cousins or teachers or any other role in a child’s life about this issue, but uniquely and purposefully calls out fathers on this matter. We as fathers have a responsibility to bring up the children entrusted under our care in the training and instruction of the Lord. We have a responsibility to be our children’s encourager.
Speaking encouragement, words that inspire courage in our children, has a tremendous ripple effect!
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
When we speak encouragement, it doesn’t only build up the people that we are speaking to, but it also reaches and encourages all those who hear it as well. Of course, the opposite ripple effect happens when we speak out of bitterness or irritation or anger:
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
So these are just a few tips for how to be a good father. They are easy to say, but challenging for sure to live out. With our own Heavenly Father with us and for us, however, we can do this!
- Live an example
- Be present
- Speak encouragement