Portrait of a Father

Το his child, he’s the num­ber-one playmate – the one who gets down οn the rug to wrestle or tickle, the one who dawdles over the bed to tell just one more silly bedtime story. As the Bible says, “the glory of children is their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6).

Το his child, he is strength and security personified – the one who can fix the broken toy or lift and carry his children away from danger, the one with the big hands that swal­low up their little ones. He’s a near and touch­able picture of the strong and durable love of the heavenly Father (Jeremiah 31:3).

Το his child, he’s the giver of good gifts – a provider so capable the child doesn’t know what it is to need (Matthew 7:11).

Το his child, he’s the chief example of how life is supposed to be lived – the one who demonstrates how to work hard and enjoy blessings, balancing discipline and whole­some leisure; the one who shows the way to loving well (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).

If you’ve ever cuddled your infant next to your heart, or felt small arms reach around your neck for a hug, or experienced a toddler’s damp kisses, or heard the happy shrieks of “Daddy!” when you came through the door after a long day of work, you know what it is to have a heart full of love. Full of love – and full of longing to be everything that child needs you to be.

But parenting is tough – and seems to be getting tougher all the time. The world seems increasingly dangerous to the dad who wants to protect his kids. With so many games, toys, books, and learning resources available, a dad has to make complex choices about what to provide – and not to provide – for his chil­dren. And training young people to respect authority and to learn the disciplines that make life meaningful gets harder and harder as society devalues authority and discipline. Νο wonder parenting worries and deci­sions drive the bravest and smartest of men straight to their knees in pursuit of God’s help for the task. And that’s exactly the place they ought to be!

God is the source of help and wisdom for the man who wants to be the best dad he can be, and God’s message to people (the Bible) is a father’s handiest how-to manual. The biblical book of Proverbs, for example, is actually made up of passionate words of advice from a father to his child. This practical and philosophical manual for wise living sets a high standard for both fathers and children. According to the book of Proverbs in the Bible, a father disciplines his child because he loves him so much (3:11-12) and trains his child in the way he should go so that “even when he is old he will not depart from it” (22:6).

Excellence in fatherhood is a tall order, and you’ve probably had plenty of moments when you haven’t felt up to the task. Thank goodness, God doesn’t expect you to handle it on your own. God is not only the “founder” but also the “perfecter” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). In fact, He’s ready to give fathers the ultimate secret weapon for childrearing: Himself! He Himself promises tο stay with you every step of the way, to give you wisdom and strength and direction at each stage of the parenting process.

So how can you plug into God’s parenting support group? If you don’t already have a personal relationship with God, that’s the place to begin! The Bible teaches that friendship with God is available to every­one who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Saviour and is willing to make Him Lord of his life. You might pray something like this:

“God, Ι know that Ι am a sinner and can never live up to Your perfect standards of holiness.
Ι believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins so that Ι could have forgiveness and be born again into God’s family.
Come into my life, and help me to live for You.
Amen.”

As you get to know your heavenly Father, you’ll find yourself growing in wisdom gleaned from His message (the Bible), from the influence of the Holy Spirit (God living within you), and from your friendships with other Christians (fellowship). That godly wis­dom will greatly influence your parenting skills and decisions. Its God’s strength and wisdom that can turn you into the father your children need the most. You’re up to the challenge! After all, God the Father handpicked your children just for you.