Successful Fathering

Happy Father’s Day! Being a father is an honor, a privilege, and one of the most awesome responsibilities that one could have.  I’m going to start this morning with this tribute to the life of a dad.
*COTM Dad’s Life Video *
We’re given the opportunity to lead, train, and equip a child during the most crucial times of their lives and transition them into adulthood. Whether good or bad, our children follow our examples. In fact, even fathers who abandon their children before their birth still set an example by their absence. Everything from how we handle our anger, how we mange our finances, how we set our priorities, how we treat our wives, and how diligently we work is monitored more closely than we realize by our children.

Proverbs 22:6

Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Whether you are a father in the natural or spiritual, we’re going to take a look this morning at some tips to be the best father that we can be.

There seems to be an epidemic in our society today in the lack of good fathers. In fact, the US Census Bureau reported in 2009 that 1 of every 3 of the 24 million children in America live in a home in which their biological father is absent. If 1/3 of the children live in households without their biological father even present, then imagine how few children there must be who are living with fathers who are setting healthy examples to them.
This is an extremely serious issue impacts which statistics have proven affect every area of our society!

Listen to some of these statistics:

63% of teen suicides come from fatherless homes. That’s 5 times the national average.
SOURCE: U.S. Dept of Health

90% of all runaways and homeless children are from fatherless homes. That’s 32 times the national average.
80% of rapists come from fatherless homes. 14 times the national average.
SOURCE: Justice and Behavior

85% of children with behavioral problems come from fatherless homes. 20 times the national average.
SOURCE: Center for Disease Control

71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. 9 times the national average.
SOURCE: National Principals Association Report

75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. 10 times the national average.
SOURCE: Rainbow’s for all God’s Children

85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes. 20 times the national average.
SOURCE: U.S. Dept. of Justice

Even in high crime neighborhoods, 90% of children from stable 2 parent homes where the Father is involved do not become delinquents.
SOURCE: Development and Psychopathology 1993

The Lord knew what He was doing when He designed the family as He did – a man and a women bound life-long by marriage who reproduce and raise their children into adulthood. This is His definition of family. Praise God, though, that when we are willing to give Him our families, even as broken and lacking as they may be, He is able to redeem and restore us and meet the needs left by having a family by any other definition!

Psalm 68:5

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

We see that even as we struggle with the issue of absent fathers in our society, that we also struggle with the same issue within the church.

1 Corinthians 4:15-16

Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

guardians – Greek wordpaidagōgos- The Strong’s Lexicon describes for us who these guardians are as this greek word is defined. Among the Greeks and the Romans, the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.

Paul makes this differentiation to the Corinthians that we have many ‘moral police’ in the church, yet few fathers. Many are willing to closely monitor the activities of others and to call out those who are acting immorally in the church, yet very few are willing to be a father to them. Very few are willing to show compassion, mercy, and grace. Very few are willing to personally invest in their lives; to come along with them to show, encourage, and to teach others how to live a Christian life of freedom. Very few are willing to open their own lives and urge others to imitate them as they imitate Christ like Paul did, to say, “See, do it this way”.   However, if we are truly being a disciple of Christ as we are called to be, we should be doing exactly this.

Unfortunately, whether it is the absence of natural fathers in the world, or spiritual fathers in the church, the result is the same in that we have many grown men and women who are still at a very low maturity level. Paul also said this in the same letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 3:2

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

This all is very discouraging and a difficult reality to face. However, I believe that God’s desire is for our generation to rise up and take a stand. I believe that He’s calling the men of this generation to man up and to take the position and authority that He has called us into. I believe that there is hope that these statistics both inside and outside of the church will improve. If God is for us and we’re moving with Him, we cannot fail! As always, we first must turn to God and His word. Paul gave Titus this charge in what he was to teach to the church, which provides us with insight to improving this family situation.

Titus 2:1-10

1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

With these things that we are to do in mind, let’s look at some practical tips in being a successful father. This is probably easier than what we would think; after all, it’s what we were created to do!

Successful fathering
1. Be available

We cannot do anything that God has called us to do as a father if we keep ourselves busy and away from our family. Granted, we’re called to provide for our families, but if our idea of providing for our families only includes money and material things, we’ve really missed it. Our families need far more than material possessions to truly provide for them and meet their needs.

Any time invested in our families is more valuable than we could ever imagine. I’ve heard it stated that near the end of a man’s life, one rarely states that they should have spent more time at work, but almost always regrets time not spent with their families. Live a life without regret!

Be intentional and schedule time in each week that is set apart for family time. Take an interest in what your kids are interested and show them things that interest you. Ask them what they would like to do with their time with you.

2. Set the example

In every area of life, live a life worthy of being imitated. We’re called to lead our families. If you’re uncertain of what this worthy life looks like, just start taking a look through scripture. When you encounter a situation and don’t know what to do, use your concordance in the back of most Bibles and look up what scripture has to say about it or see someone who can help teach and direct you.

Titus 2 here is a good start. Men are to be temperate, respectful, self-controlled, sound in faith, and love, and endurance. We’re to show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech so that anyone who opposes us would be ashamed of themselves.

If you see someone who displays characteristics and traits in their fathering that you would like to see in your own, ask them how they do it – be teachable. If you see someone who is patient with their children in situations where you would have already blown your cool, ask them how they do it. Also, pray and ask God to give you such patience.

3. Show and tell

Don’t just go about life doing what God has called you to do, but show those you are fathering how to do the same and tell them why you do it.  Don’t make the same mistake that so many mighty men in scripture made such as Eli, Samuel, and Solomon did!  Even in the small things or in small ways, involve those you are fathering in what you are doing.  It’s a good feeling to be needed and to be helpful to others.

Train them up in the Lord and realize that our children will never learn what they have not been taught.  Take time to teach your children the word of God and show them how to walk it out.  As decisions are made in your household, use scripture to explain why we do or don’t do certain things. Have them also dig in for themselves when they are faced with decisions or difficult circumstances.
4. Discipline in love
A loving father will also discipline those that they love.  In fact, scripture even tells us that God, our perfect father, disciplines those that He loves and that we know we are His children by it.
Just be sure that when you are disciplining, to explain to your children why they are facing their discipline and how they should do things differently in the future.  Always discipline out of love and not anger and make the consequence appropriate for the wrongdoing.  The end result of discipline should be a positive change that assures the child that they are deeply cared for by their father.

5. Be an encourager

Seek after God’s calling and purpose for your children and encourage them into it.  Don’t try to shape your children into someone that they are not meant to be!

With our words and actions, we should be speaking hope and life into their lives.  We need to be careful not to use our words to tear down our children.  We need to be cautious not to speak word curses over our children by saying things like ‘My kids are just so bad’, or ‘My kids never obey’, or ‘You’ll never…’.
One of the most powerful events that we see through scripture in one’s life is that of a father’s blessing.  Even the most simple of words had the most powerful impact.
We need to be cautious to use this power to build up and encourage our children into the destiny that God has for them and that we not be a stumbling block to our children in this way.  I’m sure that many of us can recall hurtful words that our fathers spoke to us even years later.  James tells us of the power of the tongue.  He likens the impact that our words have to the way in which a large ship is steered by a small rudder and the smallest spark that sets a large forest ablaze.  Let’s use our words to set our children’s hearts ablaze for the Lord and their minds set on the destiny that God has for them.
In closing, be encouraged!  No matter how far we may be from being the fathers that God desires us to be, He can restore us.  No time is too far lost and no damage is too great for God’s ability to heal and restore.  Let us rise up, let us man up, and let us be the fathers that God has enabled and empowers us to be!