I have a tough time on Father’s Day bringing messages talking about how wonderful all fathers are. Why? Because not all fathers are great fathers, and not all fathers are even good fathers. And, some fathers are downright lousy fathers.
Some fathers try their best to be good, responsible and loving. And others seem like they don’t even try. Some of us have had some rotten experiences with abusive fathers, absent fathers and alcoholic fathers. Others, had fathers who were emotionally distant, cold and unapproachable.
The Bible gives us an interesting description of what God calls a good father. In Proverbs 13:22, it says, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children…” He recognizes that he has an effect not only on his kids, but also on his grandchildren. He thinks about this and acts and lives in such a way that his grandchildren will be better off for the kind of person and father he became.
It’s important to guard the foundation of your family relationships. It’s the foundation of God’s working in your life and in society.
Take away the family structure and civilization crumbles.
Would you like to be able to see into the future like a prophet? Want to know the future of our country and the world. Just watch the eyes of the children around you. What the children are, the neighborhoods are. What the neighborhoods are, the communities are. And what the communities are, the country is and the world becomes.
That’s why it’s so vital to be there for your children physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The tones of voice that you use, the things you say to them, all make impressions on their sensitive spirits. Don’t think you’re wasting time when you’re listening to your little boy or girl telling you all about their day.
Your child experiences hurts and disappointments as well as play and pleasure each day. He or she needs you to soothe his or her little heart and to reassure them that you care about them and are there for them.
Use every means you can to win your child’s trust and confidence. Listening to them without interrupting or ridiculing them is one of the best and most valuable services you can perform. It says you care, really care. Don’t go to bed at night without some listening to you son’s or daughter’s daily joys or sorrows. You’ll never know how much comfort it is to your child’s heart to tell you all their troubles, knowing that you’re really listening.
You can be sure that as soon as they STOP trying to share their confidences with you, that they’ve found some other confidante, and that’s where dangerous ground begins! This is the rock that has wrecked many children – feeling mom or dad was just “too busy” to listen.
Raising your kids well is more than just watching them with a suspicious eye, and getting on their case when they get too loud or rowdy. It’s more than suppressing their laughing, giggling, silliness and outbursts.
The whole area of discipline needs God’s wisdom. “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged (Col 3:21).” When you punish your child, make sure he or she knows exactly what it is you’re disciplining them for. Sometimes, they think it’s just because you’re grouchy! They have no clear idea just what was wrong. Never punish out of anger or grouchiness!
Correct your child calmly, and without “losing it.” Losing your temper in your child’s eyes is losing strength and respectability. Being violent and stormy only weakens your authority. Use a few words, and not a torrent of abuse.
Don’t embarrass and humiliate your child. When your ridicule your son or daughter, and tread on his or her feelings, you’ll stir up resentment and rebellion. Your kids are defenseless – you don’t let them talk back! To them, it seems like you try them, condemn them and execute them in a matter of seconds!
“Punish as often as you threaten, and threaten only when you intend and can perform; say what you mean and do what you say.”
Remember how it feels to be a child. You feel like you’re of little use. You are made to do things you don’t want to do, and kept from doing things you really love. You’re an inconvenience to grownups, and have to fit in with their plans and wants. You have to go to school all day, sit with people you don’t like and then go home and do whatever your parents tell you. You don’t have many choices. They can interrupt them. It’s tough being a kid!
God’s willing to do a special work in fathers, “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17).
Remember, they won’t get in your way for very long. They won’t trouble and inconvenience you for too much longer. Nothing on earth grows up as quickly as a child. You want the house to be clean and neat, with no toys, shoes, clothes and mess in it – well, before you know it, they’ll be gone. Your house will be orderly and quiet.
Those bedrooms will be too neat and clean, the kitchen table too big and roomy, and mealtimes too quiet. No more noise and confusion. No more dolls, trucks, coats and shoes left scattered around like a bomb went off. You won’t have to be setting arguments, won’t be woke up early by their watching TV, won’t have to rush them off to school, and won’t have to make sure they get to bed on time.
There will come a time when you’ll think that having kids running through the house and jumping on the stairs would be like music in your ears. You’ll wonder what used to be wrong with you that you would tell them to quit talking so much, to quit bothering you and to stop slamming doors! You’ll wish a neighbor could loan you a kid or two just to bring a little chaos back into your house!
Pass on your spiritual heritage. “I have written to you fathers, because you have known Him that is from the beginning…(1 John 2:14).”
Don’t neglect to teach your children how to pray and then pray with them and for them on a daily basis. Each night, pray with your child, even through (especially through) the teen years. You can lay your hands on your children’s heads and bless them in prayer. Children recognize this as a great sign of your love for them and the value you hold them in.
It’s these prayers and times together that will be the memories that get them through the stormy years ahead. It’s worth more than you’ll ever know for your child just to be able to say, “My father, my mother, loved me and prayed for me!”
Let your child have a rich treasury of memories of family worship times, memories of being with you in church, hearing you sing to God and remembering you in prayer and worship – You owe that heritage to your children – and to their children.
Fathers, leave a heritage to your children, and to your children’s children. Leave them the heritage of a happy loving home, where their mother was loved and respected, where they were taught and nurtured by a godly father who provided for them and protected his family.
Leave the heritage of morality, uprightness and compassion. Leave the heritage of spiritual leadership and pour yourself into your children to multiply what God has done in your children has done in your life. That’s the blessing of God, the heritage that will cause God to say you were a good man. And, for your children and grandchildren to agree with Him!