Fathers take a beating in the modern media and the entertainment world. In popular culture, dads are often depicted as bumbling, incompetent, disconnected, self-centered men, who are not nearly as important to their children as their mothers. In truth, God designed the family to be led and children to be reared, by a mother and a father. God’s plan for the family is ideal, and cannot be improved. When we alter God’s blueprint, it is not without cost. Frederick Douglass wisely said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
The word, “father” is found more than 1,100 times in Scripture, yet in modern society it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find a father in the home. The U. S. Census Bureau reported 24 million children now live in a home in which the biological father is absent. That is one out of every three children in America (Joe Carter, thegospelcoalition.org).
Despite popular misconceptions, the benefit of fathers being involved in their children’s lives cannot be overestimated. The statistics are both undeniable and surprising. Nationwide statistics from July, 2012 reveal: Children who grow up without a father—comprise 85% of prison convicts; are twice as likely to end up in jail; are twice as likely to drop out of school; comprise 75% of teen suicides; and are 10 times more likely to be drug abusers.
Even Psychology Today agreed on the positive impact of involved fathers. Dr Ditta Oliker wrote (June 23, 2011): “Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and as they grow older, have better social connections. Children with involved, caring fathers also have better educational outcomes. The influence of a father’s involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.”
Another surprising stat is related to church attendance. If a mother attends church regularly with her children, but without the father, only 2% of her children will choose to become regular churchgoers as adults. If a father attends church regularly with his children, even without the mother, 44% of his children will choose to become regular churchgoers.
The Bible has much to say about the role of parents, in the upbringing of children. He calls children “a heritage from the LORD” (Psalm 127:3). God makes it clear that they are to be nourished and trained by parents, who then dispense them, like arrows toward a target. “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth” (verse 4). So, “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them!” (verse 5).
Deuteronomy 6 is full of instructions for parents in ways to raise godly children. So, as a father, how can you best equip and dispatch your children?
ONE: Fathers Must Love the Lord—“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6).
No matter what you say with your lips, your life speaks louder. Children see through all the words we say, and can discern our values by the choices in our lives. If we want our children to love God, we must love Him first.
If you love God with all your heart, soul and might—it will show in the actions of your life. How has your love for God affected the way you live? Has your life changed as a result of loving God? If a father wants to lead his children in loving God, he himself must truly love God.
Your children want to hear truth from you, but even more, they want to see you living out that truth. Too many times dads say one thing and do another. Children recognize that what you really believe is what you say, and what you do. If you want your children to love and follow God—you must truly love and follow Him.
TWO: Fathers Must Teach their Children—“You shall teach them diligently to your children” (verse 7).
The Hebrew word for “teach” literally means to sharpen, with the idea of piercing your child’s heart and mind with Bible truth. This kind of teaching is active, not passive. To teach your children Bible truth pass it along in understandable ways. You need to be on the lookout for teaching opportunities in everyday life. You need to teach Bible truth with a view to applying it in life.
THREE: Fathers Must Model Truth in Life—“You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up” (verse 8).
Notice that Bible truth is to be communicated during the normal activity, in the common places and circumstances of daily life. When children rise and prepare for the day, teach them about God. When you, your wife and children sit at the table for a meal, talk about things of the Lord. When you drive them to school—when you walk through the neighborhood—when you put them to bed at night—pray with and teach them about God. The ideal time to share the truth of God with your children is in the realities and concerns of daily life.
Robert L. Backman nailed it when he said, “‘Father’ is the noblest title a man can be given. It is more than a biological role. It signifies a patriarch, a leader, an exemplar, a confidant, a teacher, a hero, a friend.” Strive to be such a father!