“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:6-9). What makes a good father? There are many men who have sired children, but that does not automatically make them good fathers. Most of us consider ourselves, maybe not the ideal example, but certainly “competent” in that role, but we should never rest on our laurels. We should strive to do better every day.
There are certain characteristics that a good father should have, and today we will take a look at some of them. Firstly, he needs to be the head of the family – 1 Cor. 11:3, “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” One of the most important functions of a father is to protect his children. They should not just feel but absolutely know that they are safe with him. Their whole future is built on that foundation – knowing that they can find safety and security in his arms. Of course, he also needs to provide for them as best as possible. He does not have to earn the salary of a rocket scientist or a doctor, but he has an obligation to supply the necessities and be an example to his sons of being a provider.
Showering children with all sorts of worldly things will do nothing for their attitude and will teach them to be self-centered and egocentric. Too many men think that gifts are the answer to gaining a child’s love when in fact, it is not. Another characteristic of a good father is to discipline his children. Pro. 13:24 has this to say on the matter, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Of course, discipline must be measured and not used for self-gratification or empowerment. Done right, it is a primary catalyst to successfully raising a respectable and hard-working child.
A good father is a man who shows his children what a loving and faithful husband is. It is critical for his daughters’ future to know how to choose a good, honest, and loyal husband, and also for his sons to know how to treat their wives. Our example today will play a massive role in the happiness of their future marriages, and we should use the scriptures as a guide in that regard as well. Eph. 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Husbands who are faithful also provide a happy household for their children to be raised in, and happy children are far less likely to become dysfunctional teens and adults.
While all those characteristics are essential, the one that encompasses them all and then some is for him to be a faithful Christian. After all, no one who has not committed his life to the Lord will care about using scripture as a guide for his role as a father. A believer will raise his children scripturally. Pro. 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” In other words, he will train them to be loyal, respectful, honest, and, above all, faithful to their Savior. And then, when they are older, they will not give those things up. As our verse this morning commands – he must surround them with the Word of God. The best way to do that is with daily prayer, Bible study, encouragement, and example. The quality of the investment today will determine the quality of their future. And fathers, remember, you are working to secure much more than their success in this life – you are literally working to give them a wonderful “forever.”
One last verse this morning that brings it all together should be written in the hearts of every father. Eph. 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Your love and your example will determine their future parenting style. Be what you want them to be.