Fatherhood, like Motherhood, has become a role of much confusion in our day. Commercials, TV shows, movies, and numerous other mediums present fathers (and men in general) as idiots or tyrants or absentees or selfish jerks. Add to this barrage the heartbreaking reality that many young people are growing up with bad fathers or non-existent fathers… well, you can see the results all around us.
Despite the apparent assault on masculinity, there is undeniable evidence that men make a big difference in the lives of those around them. Fatherless children are more likely to be impoverished, to have a substance addiction, and to spend time in jail. We can observe the impact of fathers on children in many ways. I grew up without a father for much of my childhood, and the marks of that absence are still evident today. Young men and old ones are often unsure about what it means to be a man… to be masculine.
Young men and old ones are often unsure about what it means to be a man… to be masculine.
More important than all of this is the reality that the Bible places the responsibility of spiritual leadership upon the shoulders of fathers. This is not to say that mothers are unimportant, nor is it to say that a strong Christian father guarantees that a child will follow Christ. This is to say that one way to massively increase the likelihood that your child will have nothing to do with Christ later in life is for you – dad – to take Christ and your responsibility lightly right now.
There is a great weight upon my shoulders as the pastor/shepherd of a local church, but it is not as urgent as the responsibility I bear as a father. As a pastor, it is highly important that I lead in godliness, biblical understanding, and engagement with the world. But my congregation also shares the burden, because they may challenge me when I get it wrong or vote me out if I turn from the Faith.
My children do not bear this responsibility, nor do they enjoy this benefit. They are not prepared to bear such a load… That is my job. My boys don’t get to correct my errors; they must live with them. My boys don’t get to throw me out if I deny Christ (explicitly or by my passive neglect); they must endure my poisonous leadership.
Dad, if you are like me, then you may easily see some failures. If you are like me, then you may admit to getting some stuff wrong.
But, Dad… if you are like me, then you are also able to run to the grace of Christ. His perfect obedience and substitutionary sacrifice cover all sin – even fatherly failures.
Dad, if you are like me, then you can say “I’m sorry” to those who love and need your fatherly leadership. You can exemplify humble repentance for those who need to learn most from you what repentance looks like.
Dad, if you are like me, then you can thank God for the blessings you do have in your children; and you can commit to serving them best by leading them well.
Men, may God make us all better men today; and may we come to know the joy of seeing our children walk in the truth of Jesus Christ.