A recent study “A Tale of Two Fathers,” found that “married fathers are far more involved today in rearing children compared to their counterparts 40 years ago. However, the percentage of fathers living apart from the kids has more than doubled in the last half-century.” Recent statistics show almost 50% of men less than 45 years old admit to having children out of wedlock. President Barack Obama stated, “Father’s Day reminds us parents that we have no more solemn obligation than to care for our children. But far too many young people in America grow up without their dads, and our families and communities are challenged as a result.”
Proverbs 4:1-5—Listen, my sons, to a father's discipline, and pay attention so that you may gain understanding, for I am giving you good instruction. Don't abandon my teaching. When I was a son with my father, tender and precious to my mother, he taught me and said: “Your heart must hold on to my words. Keep my commands and live. Get wisdom, get understanding; don't forget or turn away from the words of my mouth.
So what makes a good father? In looking at Proverbs and thinking about what my own dad modeled, here are five things I hope my children will say about me:
1. My dad loves God and he loves me. Dads who love God foremost have their priorities straight. Loving God creates a spiritual foundation and helps a father recognize the value of investing in his children, enjoying them, praying for them, and helping them develop healthy self-images so they know they are valued. In essence they bestow blessing.
2. My dad teaches me. Dads who want their children to succeed in life make the time to inform them, to provide insight and counsel. Wise fathers communicate the value and importance of acquiring wisdom. British author George Herbert wrote in Outlandish Proverbs, “One father is more than a hundred Schoolemasters.”
3. My dad has high standards. Dads have to give commands and establish absolutes. Clear boundaries provide protection and safety. Dads who model what “right looks like” help their children form strong convictions and choose wise behavior.
4. My dad is not afraid to discipline me. When children violate absolutes (tell the truth, respect your elders, etc.) they must be corrected and if necessary punished. Hebrews 12:9 states, “Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn't we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live?” A father who is wishy-washy, compromises on truth, or who lets his children do whatever they want, sets them up for pain not success.
5. My dad is humble. Good fathers are always learners. Not only do they not have all the answers, they also recognize and admit when they make mistakes. They depend upon God and are not afraid to rely on others. Humility establishes trust and creates an enduring relationship of respect.
My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, “You're tearing up the grass.” “We're not raising grass,” Dad would reply. “We're raising boys.”—Harmon Killebrew
©2011 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)