As I write, the aroma of Father’s Day cake, courtesy of our daughters, is wafting throughout the house. Can I hear an amen. My hope is that Father’s Day is a great celebration of the pivotal role dads play in our children’s lives. My wife thinks of her dad every day; Charlie died of cancer five years ago. The Bible speaks vividly of a father’s influence: Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath. We fathers have the ability to pass blessing along to our children or to destroy their spirit and leave them wounded in their adult years. As a pastor I see this played out almost daily.
Research shows two trends in dads today: a sense of inadequacy in spiritual headship while feeling ill-equipped in this role.
So dads – how do we successfully pull off this high call in our lives? For those looking to get back into the game, here are some starters:
1) Love God passionately. With all your heart, soul, strength and mind. When it comes to your kids, more is caught then taught. If you feel inadequate in leading your family, begin with letting them see you studying God’s Word, connected in your church, and serving others. Building on this, take opportunities to talk with your kids about Christ here and there throughout the day. Engage your kids and pray for windows to be proactive and speak into their lives on a regular basis. Pray for them daily.
2) Love mom tenderly, with unconditional love and acceptance, just as Christ loves you. Every day. This is a great gift to give your kids.
3) On a practical level, teach your kids the meaning of “no” and make sure they know that you – and God - love them more than life itself. If you get these two messages across, your kids are on their way to being well adjusted and industrious adults.
Some practical recommendations:
1) Ignore the media: most sitcoms portray dads as incompetent or irrelevant. You’re neither. Remember your kids need you, no matter how badly you’ve messed up in life. Nobody can replace your input and presence in their lives. Be you. You might look at other dads and think they have it going on, but not your children. You are their dad.
2) Relate with them in a way that is naturally you. Get down on the floor and wrestle with them while they’re young. Build a fort with them. Go swimming or biking with them. Play chess with them. Go to their games and attend their graduations. Whatever it is - be you and be with them!
3) Lose the tension between quality time and quantity time – it’s both.
4) Never ever take your kids for granted. Ever. One of my friends would do anything to hold his son this weekend; he and his wife recently lost their newborn within his first week of life. He posed a piercing question: "How does one fit a lifetime of love into such a short time?" Cherish every moment with your children and make the most of every day.
There are plenty of good resources for developing your walk with Christ: Desiring God Ministries, National Fatherhood Initiative, Grace To You, to name a few. Wherever you are in your walk with Christ or your relationship with your kids, get off the bench and into the game – your kids need you, my friend.
- Pastor Colin