For many years now, we have heard that the reason our society seems to be going downhill is because of absentee fathers. Not all absentee fathers have deserted their family physically, but when they are home, they are not there mentally or emotionally. More than ever, we need Godly fathers. Men who will stand up, reclaim their place as the leaders in their homes.
Many fathers today seem to be left without any guidance and understanding of the role a father has in their child's life. As you open the Bible, you can find guidelines to help parents to raise their kids in the Lord. Fathers have a responsibility to God to show their children the right path and to lay the foundation for their future.
Solomon wrote just how important it is for fathers to teach their children godly behavior. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." (Proverbs 22:6) This is not to say that good parents are guaranteed their children will always follow what they are taught. But it shows that when a child is guided on the right path, they are more likely to follow it throughout their lives. In fact, the Hebrew word for "parent" is the same root word meaning "teacher." Schools, churches and mentors can contribute to the teaching of your children but can never take the place of a Godly father.
Not only is it the father's job to teach their kids Godly behavior, it is also their responsibility to correct their children when they fail to listen. Discipline is a form of love, as Solomon writes "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." (Proverbs 13:24)
As a father, I have learned that discipline, while not immediately appreciated by children, is even harder on the parents. It may seem easier to ignore problems and hope that they go away then to confront and correct them. Even so, the writer of Hebrews points out some positive results of discipline when he writes: "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)
As important as Godly training and discipline are, the love of a father must be obvious to a child. Children who know their fathers only as teachers and disciplinarians often come to believe that their value lies only in what they learn and how they behave.
This thought is counter to Scripture and the undeserved love our Heavenly Father has for His children. The book of Romans shows this. "God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." He showed us His love not because we acted in a way that deserved it; He loves us as children in spite of our sin. This unconditional love between parents and children stands out clearly in Scripture when Jesus asks the question, "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?" It is a natural affection for fathers to love and care for their children, and it is their responsibility to make that love obvious to them.
There are many examples and resources out there to help you become a good father. I believe that what makes a great father is when Godly men teach God's law to their children, set and enforce reasonable limits, and demonstrate unconditional love.
• Micheal Hurlbert is pastor of Carson City's First Christian Church.