By Pr Ay Nee Ng
Fathers, please stand. We acknowledge all fathers and wish you a happy Father’s Day! Please sit back and watch this video “Love Your Children” by Dads 4 Kids organisation.
Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”. Church, this video highlights the importance of a father’s relationship with his children. My message today is the importance of fatherhood. While almost any man can father a child, there is so much more to the important role of being dad in a child’s life. Let’s look at who our father is and why dads are so important.
Fathers, you are central to the emotional well-being of your children. You are capable caretakers and disciplinarians. Even God disciplines us when we are out of line, out of character!
Who Is My Father?
- My earthly dad. My father’s relationship with us, his kids, wasn’t the lovey dovey, huggy kind of relationship, but there was respect and learnt understanding. My dad passed on over a year and a half ago on 20th February, 2015, at the ripe old age of 91.
When we were growing up, whatever time he had, he would take us to a beach resort in either Port Dickson or Penang. I can recall the happy times together, but as his business grew, he had hardly time to spend with us and became more edgy, distant and short tempered; he didn’t suffer fools gladly. Mum would step in in seeing to our education and raising us up. The only relationship we had with him was when he would take us on holidays. Even then, he will mix business with pleasure. Apart from that, he would only see our report cards, give occasional canning, and enquire how we were doing.
Before he passed on, he had been an invalid for 14 years, and life was centred on doctor’s visits and hospitals. Yet, the good values that he instilled in us still stick; that is, to be hardworking, honest and fair. In December 2014, he cheated death three times. In those times in hospital, he would hold our hands and grip us tightly even though he was weak. Many times he wanted to die, but he pulled through. Yet, somehow he knew as well as we did that his time was drawing near the end. When we bid farewell that month, we knew we may never see him again, but the assurance we got in making peace with him and sharing Christ with him left us satisfied. He knew Jesus was with him. We kissed him and said how much we loved him, but he couldn’t respond; he only held us tightly for a while then waived good bye.
Sad to say, Dad never knew love or the softer side of love as a kid. He only knew love as putting food on the table and being a good provider. He never had a good role model because of the WWII. From a young age, without much education (because education stopped during the war), and his father passing on, he had to fend for himself the hard way. With a childhood like that, it is no wonder he couldn’t say, “I love you”, or show any gentleness. We as kids don’t remember Dad ever saying, “Sorry”, and he rarely said, “Thank you” until the latter years of his life. His way of apologizing was saying, “Have something to eat or drink”. In the end, Dad’s only love language was to be a provider, not just any provider, but a good, honest, and sometimes generous one.
- My Heavenly Father. What a different father He is! If we never have a good role model in our father, we can look to our Lord Jesus Christ for He said He will be a father to the fatherless. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling” (Psa. 68:5). What I couldn’t talk with Dad, I talked with my heavenly Father, so from a young age, I had a good walking talking relationship with Him.
Of all the ways our Lord God Almighty could have chosen to relate to humanity, guess what? God is God supremo, and He could have described Himself as a benevolent master, commander or dictator, a strict but kind boss or CEO, or a patient and forgiving landlord. Instead, He chose the word “father”.
Church, He presents Himself as a father because we all know what a father is and does. Even if we didn’t have earthly fathers who treated us well, we have an intrinsic understanding of what a good father should be. God planted that understanding in our hearts. Do we all have a need to be loved, cherished, protected, and valued? Yes!
Ideally, our earthly father will meet those needs. But even if he doesn’t, God will. Jesus taught His followers to address God as Father (Luke 11:2). Throughout Scripture, God describes His love for us as that of a caring parent (Isa. 49:15; John 16:26–27; 2 Cor. 6:18). Although He possesses characteristics of both father and mother (Isa. 66:13), He chooses the masculine word because it also denotes strength, protection, and provision (Psa. 54:4).
God has a special place in His heart for the orphans and fatherless (Deut. 24:20; Jer. 49:11; Jas. 1:27). Psalm 27:10 says: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me”. Church, we have earthly fathers who are too busy with other things than raising a family, and God knows that many times earthly fathers have been absent or haven’t done their job (Eph. 6:4).
Summary of the Roles of Our Heavenly Father
• He offers to fill the role of a father (John 6:37; Deut. 1:31).
• He invites us to call out to Him when we are in trouble (Psa. 50:15).
• He asks us to cast all our worries on Him (1 Pet. 5:7).
• He wants us to enjoy His company (1 Cor. 1:9: Psa. 116:1; 1 John 5:14).
• He models for us the characteristics He had in mind when He designed fatherhood.
Although many times earthly fathers don’t live up to the ideal, God promises that, in Him, no one has to be without a perfect father.
Why Is Fatherhood Important in a Child’s Life?
Fathers play an important role in a child’s development from birth through adulthood. In fact, numerous studies have reached the same conclusion: Children with involved fathers have an advantage socially and academically over children with distant or no relationships with their dads. Fathers are central to a child’s emotional wellbeing.
What Are the Roles of a Father in a Christian family?
Fathers are very important in society. Without them and mothers, society cannot function.
1. Take leadership. All fathers must take the leadership role in the family, although this isn’t the case in many families, including Christian ones. God put fathers in charge and mothers as their executive officer (second in command). When the father relinquishes his command or the mother usurps it, the family suffers. Any time the ordained order of anything is altered, the results are always negative.
The best thing to do is for the mother to pray and humbly encourage her husband to take the leadership role, if he isn’t. She cannot nag him into being a spiritual leader; she can only pray him into it. A good way for her to do this is ask him to pray and read the Bible with her. Once he is comfortable doing that, he can have family devotions as he is commanded to: “And these words which I commanded you today shall be on your heart, and you shall repeat them to your sons, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk in the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6.6-7).
2. Share equal responsibilities in raising his family. Fathers, you share equal responsibilities with mothers in bringing up your child. Children who lack the proper care and guidance will end up doing harmful things in future. Jesus said: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
3. Be the head of the household. It’s the father’s responsibility to support the family as the head. He is to fulfil his responsibilities to keep the family functioning in a positive manner and to protect his family by providing proper food, clothes and shelter. “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground” (Gen. 3:19). “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).
4. Respect his wife. A husband will gain respect from his wife and from society if he is a good and responsible father. A father who cannot take care of his wife and children will be considered a failure, not only in society but also according to the Scriptures.
5. Be a teacher to his children. The first teacher in the eyes of a child is his father. He should teach his children what is right and what is wrong.
6. Be a disciplinarian. A father should be strict and discipline his children when called for, but he should also be a trusted friend to his children.
7. Guide his family in their difficulties. As a man’s boss at work is dependent on workers for growing a company, children depend on their father for their growth. Children learn by following a good example; good characteristics are acquired by children whose father sets a good example. “The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise child will delight in him” (Prov. 28:24).
Fathers, do stop and think: How often do you say to your children and grandchildren, “I love you”, “Thank you”, or “I’m sorry”? It brings so much reassurance to each child or grandchild, and they can grow up being confident in life.
Fatherhood is so important. Fathers, you are to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Dads who had fathers who showed them love and gratitude have made a huge difference in their lives and in their relationships with their kids and grandchildren.
This Father’s Day make sure you say, “Thank You” and “I love you” to your dad. Dads, make sure you say, “Thank you” and “I love you” to your children and grandchildren. You never know what a difference it could make to their lives right now and in the future. What a different life fathers would have had if when they were young, they had dads to train them up in the way they should go, to appreciate them, and to express them that appreciation and love. Dads, your role as fathers is important in society as you are raising up children that will impact society and their community. God bless you!