A Biblical Approach to Fatherhood

When news of a child on the way becomes the consuming force of our lives, we all set out to be the very best moms and dads we can be. As the years go by, we may be pleased with the outcome or we may be bitterly disappointed. I doubt young Alois Hitler set out to raise the boy who would attempt to exterminate the Jewish race. Nor did Abraham intend to raise an Ishmael whose prodigy would trouble the world with terrorism. His good boy, Isaac, reared the infamous Esau alongside Jacob the deceiver. We could speak of Eli’s wayward boys, Hophni and Phinehas. We are reminded of the godly prophet Samuel, whose boys were hellions.

Parenting tends to be brutal, excruciating, and frustrating work. After nearly two decades of sacrificial training, investing, and providing for a child, parents may ultimately ask, “Where did we go wrong?” Even with the best intentions, parents of the Bible, and we who seek to be biblical parents, may or may not rear godly, successful children.

I am blessed to have three kids, ranging in age from 15 to 31, one from each planet. They are all saved and dearly loved and respected by many. All credit for that goes to God.

As a father, balancing vocation, family, discipline, grace, finances, fun, and industry is like keeping several plates spinning while being punched in the gut. Daddying is not for the timid.

We find several characteristics of godly dads reiterated in the Word. He exhibits: Love, faith, example, stewardship, leadership, provision, protection, teaching, and temperance.

From this list of characteristics, we draw these conclusions:

1. A biblical father is a spiritual leader.God trusts this man to lead and teach his family in righteousness. God’s confidence of Abraham’s spiritual leadership in Genesis 18:19 is impressive: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”

That spiritual leadership must include private and family devotional lives, reiteration of truth, church attendance and service, sacrificial giving to the Lord’s work, a vibrant prayer life, and constant care for souls. He needs to be a consistent example of faith in God and faithfulness to God.

2. The biblical dad models a solid work ethic, as well as being a responsible steward of finances. Paul instructed his spiritual son Timothy, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an in del.” I Timothy 5:8.

Kids need to know how to live, but also, how to make a living and be good providers. A father’s example and teaching should encourage his children to honor God and work hard. There are no shortcuts to success. A godly dad capably cultivates godly, productive kids.

3. A godly daddy sets the tone of the home. The apostle teaches the church, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4.

A Christian home needs to be a little bit of heaven on earth. In a cruel world, the home needs to be a castle of safe retreat where love, joy, and peace is paramount. Dad needs to make sure the enemy is kept outside the home and not allowed to disrupt the heaven that is within.

4. Finally, a godly dad models love as we are reminded in Ephesians 5: “Husband’s, love your wives.”

It has been said, the greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother. Love is the root of the most fruitful trees. A child incubated in a loving home becomes society’s most valued citizen.

Song writers Hal David (born 1921) and Burt Bacharach (born 1928) collaborated on some of the most iconic songs of our culture. But one of the most recognizable was “What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love.”

Is it any wonder from where the inspiration for this song came? Two Jewish boys spent their formative years in New York City at a time when Jews
were suffering from the pogroms and being forced into the European ghettos, eventually to be sent to the concentration camps for extermination. We can imagine how they were so inspired to compose this simple melodic prayer, “The world needs love, now. No, not just for some, but for everyone.”

I’m thinking the Home of Alois Hitler, and the world, could have benefitted well from a dad’s love, faith, example and leadership. Dads, I wish God’s best to you in your efforts to provide these characteristics in your home.