Most jobs require some experience or at least an apprenticeship under the watchful eye of a journeyman. However, when it comes to being a father, every man begins as a novice. Even those with a good role model find the actual experience far more challenging than they imagined. But God must not be worried about inexperience; He has obviously placed His confidence in the beginner.
It certainly doesn’t take long for any new father to realize he has a lot to learn. Children have a way of bringing every doubt and insecurity to the surface. That is especially true when he understands that God has given fathers the power to shape the future of their children and direct them on the path to their eternal destiny.
Recently, I read a study conducted by the Promise Keepers a few years ago which was quite revealing. It said that when the father in a home leads the family in spiritual matters, the children will follow his leadership and continue in the faith over 90% of the time. In homes where the mother is left with no option but to take the leadership role, less than 15% of the children followed her lead and continued in the faith.
As you read the stories of the Old Testament and the writings of the apostles in the New, it becomes obvious that God has charged fathers with leadership responsibilities. He expects them to bless, guard, guide, and govern the family. Not as a dictator, but as a servant, committed to the well being of the entire family. Unfortunately, in our society today, many fathers are not accepting this responsibility.
Mothers, left with no option, are stepping in when the fathers drop the ball. This is not to say that a Mom can’t bless and guide their children, or that the role of the mother is somehow inferior to that of the father. It is not, it’s just different. For examples, one of the extraordinary attributes of God that most Moms demonstrate to their children is His unconditional love.
There are many great people who were raised in the home of a tireless single mom or one in which the father took little interest in the children’s spiritual development. The success of their lives is a testimony to the fact that God’s word and His power can overcome any situation. However, His original design for the family, one in which the father leads through serving his wife and children, always works best.
I have heard many men say, “I don’t have much time to spend with my children so I make sure it’s quality time.” Sounds good in theory, but seldom works in practice. Moments come when the heart of your child is open and waiting to be touched. You can’t preplan these special times; you have to spend enough time with your children to recognize them when they occur. These quality times are rare and they rarely occur without a huge investment of time. There aren’t any shortcuts to the heart of a child.
To give ones life, in this case, was not referring to physical death. Most fathers would give their physical life for that of their child without a second thought. It’s giving your life on a daily basis; not allowing ambitions, cares, unhealthy desires, or the pursuit of lifestyle to control you and determine your priorities, that’s hard. In the end, your children will always know who or what you loved. Make sure it’s them.
The kind of Father wanted here is a father with a Shepherds heart. He’s a man who enters confidently through the front door. The children run to the sound of his voice long before they can see his face. They know it so well and trust his words so completely that they would never listen to any other. They would follow him anywhere because they know he loves them and would never lead them astray.
This Father never places the responsibility for the future of his children in the hands of another. He knows others may not stand and face the enemy who causes fear and brings confusion; the one who seeks to steel, kill, and destroy. He guards, he guides, he protects, and none are able to steal the heart of these children because he gives his life for them. This is a father with a Shepard’s heart. (John 10)
The job of a father is not for the faint of heart. A confession of love and good intentions are not enough in a world full of voices determined to influence or steel away the heart of your children. It requires courage, selflessness, and complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit. However, the rewards awaiting the father who makes this commitment exceed any this world could ever offer.
God bless you,
Jim and Shirley Ertel
P.S. I believe it was Billy Graham who once said, (this is a paraphrase from memory, not an exact quote.) “I have been at the death bed of many great and successful men. They seldom talked of their success, only their regret of not spending more time with their family.”