It’s hard to talk on Father’s Day. It isn’t because there is not a lot to talk about because there is. It is hard because the dad’s role has been shifting so much in society. Now it seems that society wants to mix things up, having women act like men and men like women. Don’t misunderstand me. This is not an issue of women working or staying at home or if men should take a more active role in the raising of their children. Whether our society recognizes it or not there are distinctions between male and female.
So it isn’t easy being a dad with so many conflicting messages and changing expectations. So we turn to God’s Word for help. But it is difficult to find any example there of a good dad. Most men in the Word are dysfunctional Father’s. Most examples we have are the kings and they certainly were not great examples of wonderful fathers. Even the great king David was a royal mess up when we look at his kids. And let’s face it, we judge most Father’s according to their kids.
Now it is not fair to judge a man according to his children when they are small and still being training, but when they are adults we begin to see the same character in the sons as in the father. That is a frightening reality for us dad’s. The same can be said about moms and daughters but this is father’s day. How many times have you dads heard your father’s voice as speak to your kids? Sometimes it is even the same words. You may never have intended it but this is who you have become under the influence of your dad. It is not like you walked around with a note pad taking notes but you did absorb the lessons your dad taught you by what he said and did.
I don’t know about the rest of you dads but that really scares me. So often we are not great communicators of our hearts. We don’t use a lot of words to explain how we feel or about what we think. So all our sons and daughters have to go on is what we say and do. This shapes them and moulds them and becomes part of who they are. They will deny it but they can’t stop it and either can you. Every angry word, every messed up action gets absorbed by them. This is great if you are a great dad but most of us are like those guys in the Bible, mess ups.
If you don’t believe this to be true then I want you to consider the best father and son relationship in the Word of God. Here is an example of a great dad and a loving son. And this is what he had to say about his dad:
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” (John 5:19-20)
And consider how the son represents the father in the character that he has:
Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."
Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?” (John 14:5-9)
You can know a dad without ever meeting him by getting to know his son. I don’t know about the rest of you dads but that really frightens me, that I have such a huge impact on who my children become. I am such an imperfect man. I know each of my imperfections really well and I would never want my children to have them. So what do I do?
The best thing I can do is live to gain the character of the best dad that has ever been. But the problem is I can’t spend any physical time with my heavenly Father. If I can’t spend time with him how can I gain his great character? Well, by turning to the Son. This is what Jesus said:
Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. (John 14:11-13)
We know that the character we have gained from the false father of this world is a thing of destruction. He is an illegitimate father who destroys and twists everything he touches. Without Jesus we take father him and we destroy and twist everything we touch. But if we understand that Jesus has the character of the true Father then we know to seek to be like Jesus. If we set our hearts desire on becoming like him then we have set our hearts on being like our heavenly Father. If this is our hearts desire then the Spirit will work on us to transform us into what we desire. Consider this Psalm:
Do not fret because of evil men
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:1-6)
The question is what is the desire of our hearts? We possess no greater treasure than our children. We have the responsibility of setting the best example we can set and then praying a lot of grace over them for where we fail. Fatherhood is such an awesome and incredible responsibility we should be spending hours in prayer, asking our Father to change us for the sake of our children. As we realize our weaknesses we should be taking them to our Father and asking for help with it.
The thing is we only get one shot at this. In golf there is a thing called a mulligan, which is a do-ever. It is when you make a bad shot in a friendly game, you can call a mulligan and retake the shot. With our kids we do not get to call a mulligan. We do have something better called God’s grace. I don’t know about you but I need to rely on that grace a lot.
I am going to end this by borrowing something that Paul had written to his student Timothy. I am borrowing this because it is a good list and dad’s work best with clear expectations. He writes to Timothy, a spiritual leader:
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
As dad’s we are all ministers to our kids. It is a good place to start, to realize that we are setting the example for our children in our speech, they way we interact with people, in the way we love, in our trust in God’s promises and in the way we avoid things that pollute and contaminate our body, mind and spirit. As I have said before, an awesome responsibility.