A Perspective On Biblical Fatherhood
When asked to write a post about being a Biblical father, I was immediately convicted. How can I write a blog about this topic when I have failed so much? Would my kids agree with what I write? Would my wife? Why me?
I believe God will give me what He wants me to write, so that’s why I agreed to write this. Much prayer has gone into this article. As you read, pray God would get the points across to you that He wants you to get.
What advice do I have to say to men about being a Biblical father?
Pray unceasingly. Study God’s Word. Be transparent to your wife and your children. Let them know you’re not perfect. Own your mistakes and apologize. Raise your sons to be men of God. Raise your daughters to be women of God. Pray that they each find Godly spouses. Be their father, not their friend. Don’t be afraid to be a disciplinarian in a Godly way. Love your children equally. Be respected in your home and in your community. Make your family a priority, second only to God. Volunteer with the Children’s ministry and Youth ministry. Never quit.
Most importantly, let’s focus on God’s Word and being a father. Here are a few verses that challenge me to be a more Christ like father. The first verse that comes to mind is probably the most popular parenting verse:
1. Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
We clung to this one tightly, especially with our oldest. He was our most rebellious. We had made sure he was taught well about how to be a follower of Jesus. When he moved out, we relied on this verse for peace in letting go of hands-on parenting him. As a father, we are the spiritual leader of the home. My wife and I did our best to teach our kids the way of the Lord. We must now lean on Proverbs 22:6 and trust that our efforts were not in vain.
2. Titus 1:7-14 – “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”
While the term “overseer” is typically equated with “pastor,” it can also be used to mean “father.” We dads need to live up to this passage. If we’re too busy climbing the corporate ladder, keeping up with the Jones’s or are used to bullying our way through life, our home lives will be a wreck and our kids will pay the price. They will also most likely end up being just like us or possibly worse. If we submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and follow His leading in raising our children, we will be the best dads our kids could ask for.
3. Philippians 2:3 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Dads, you cannot pressure your kids to be who you want them to be nor allow them to push themselves to who they want to be. You must guide them to be who God wants them to be. You may think your son is the next superstar athlete or your daughter is destined to dance in the Nutcracker with the NYC Ballet. Maybe they are. Maybe, instead of focusing on that for them from the age of five, why not focus on leading them to Jesus and training them to serve Him? Which would reap greater eternal rewards? There’s nothing wrong with excelling in sports, music, education or any other career, but the spiritual life of your child is far superior to anything and everything the world throws at them. Jesus first, extracurricular activities will come.
4. Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Fatherhood is not an easy job, no matter how wonderful your kids are. You will find yourself at the end of your rope countless times. Hang onto that last thread of hope, doing what God has called you to do. In the end, you will be blessed beyond measure to see your children become adults and then parents of their own children, raising them as they were raised.
5. Matthew 6:15 – “...but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
As a father, you must forgive. Forgive your wife, your kids, yourself, anyone who you deem to have done you wrong. Even if they don’t recognize or acknowledge their wrong, you must forgive. Failing to forgive someone only builds up resentment and keeps us from living the spirit-filled life God has called us to live as fathers. Sometimes this means forgiving someone when you’ve done nothing wrong, but simply because they believe you wronged them. Take the high road.
6. Isaiah 41:10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Let’s face it, fatherhood is scary at times. That moment you watched your first child enter this world was filled with numerous feelings, emotions and thoughts. Remember when the euphoria wore off and you immediately thought “what do I know about being a father??” Panic may have set in. You may have even passed out. Fear set in. But in Isaiah, God promises to strengthen us and help us.
Matthew 6:25-34 – “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Raising kids can be worrisome. What if they get sick? What if they get hurt? What if I mess up? What if they mess up? Instead of all of those “what ifs” why don’t we ask God to take away our worries and fears so that we can focus on being who He wants us to be? Worrying wastes time and energy, precious commodities in these busy times. It can also cause us to react wrongly to our spouse, our kids or others. I can’t say I never worry, but I can truthfully say I don’t worry much at all any more. I know God is in control and He can do much better with my life and my family than I can.
7. Ephesians 5:22-33 – “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Before anyone gets on their high horse, let’s unpack this passage quickly. The intent in this passage boils down to this…men, love your wives as Christ loves each of us. How many of you would give up your life for your wife as Christ did for you? Does Christ lord his authority over us? No. He loves us unconditionally. We husbands should love our wives unconditionally. Many homes would be much happier if the husbands treated their wives properly.
God intended for the family unit to be a husband, a wife and children. One man, one woman, and the children He would give them. I don’t know why some couples can’t have children. Let’s leave that there. I do know that since the Biblical family unit has been torn down by various causes and actions that the world is a much darker place. Ministries and agencies have been formed to combat domestic violence, drug dependency, alcohol dependency, orphaned children, etc. In 2014, 23.6% of homes were fatherless.
Fathers, it’s time to step up and be who God called us to be. We can no longer abandon our responsibilities or abdicate our position in the home. Our wives and children deserve better. Gather a group of dads in your church, your neighborhood or your workplace and begin studying God’s Word together as it pertains to fatherhood. Hold each other accountable. Encourage each other. Teach your sons how to be a father. Change the world by being the father God called you to be.
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Bob has been with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for over 23 years. He got his start as Office Manager for Billy Graham Crusades and has worked with every committee at some point over the 23 years, both domestically and internationally and with each of the Grahams (Billy, Franklin and now Will). His heart is discipleship and evangelism. He is thankful to answer the call that God has laid upon his heart as he sees pastors and churches unite to reach the lost for Christ. Bob and his wife Kristen have moved to Tifton, Georgia, to work on the Tiftarea Celebration with Will Graham. Bob also serves on the board of directors for Adoration Life, a ministry in East Tennessee founded to help the church heal the home in the name of Jesus. Bob & Kristen have three grown children and a daughter-in-law in Charlotte, North Carolina.