Evangelist Billy Graham once said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
Pastor Larry Stockstill, Senior Pastor of Bethany Church in Baton Rouge for 30 years, said, “Fathering is not just a role, it’s a foundation.”
This weekend, we celebrate Father’s Day and fatherhood. A day to honour and commemorate our fathers, to inspire fatherhood and maximise the blessings that fatherhood brings.
In my lifetime, I’ve had close encounters with four fathers – my paternal grandfather, my own father, the father of my children, and the father of my beautiful granddaughter. There’s nothing easy about being a father and we want to recognise the influence fathers have in our homes and society, and to foster paternal bonds.
My father lost his mother at a young age, so he and his brother were raised by their father. He saw his role primarily as the breadwinner and worked to fulfil that role. Having children is the biggest thing to happen in our lives, and very few people die saying, “I wish I had worked more instead of spending so much time with my kids.” And sadly, this can often be the case usually on hindsight.
A Singapore public survey conducted in 2009 on ‘The Role of a Father’ found 46% of the fathers identified as the breadwinner, 36% with giving emotional support to their children, 3% with handling children daily, and 1% with protecting and nurturing children.
Providing as a father is a wonderful goal and being a good father can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible. To begin, you’ve to decide what ‘fatherhood’ means. It can mean two things – giving life to a child because you brought them into the world and giving a life to a child because you’re engaged and intentional in their upbringing.
For first-time fathers, becoming a father is about doing something you’re unqualified for, and you get better to become qualified while doing it. Being both a good husband and a good father requires practice, which means learning to work with the tools you have.
Whether you’ve raised your voice when disciplining or not being the best example of how to act, which many can identify with – you’re merely an imperfect vessel, because there are no perfect fathers except that fatherhood is what perfects you.
What does the Word of God tell us about fatherhood? In 2 Corinthians 6:18, God Himself says, “And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” It’s important that you look to God to understand the perfect example of what a father should be and be encouraged to work towards being more like your Heavenly Father.
There are three things I believe are important, and that is the Christian father is an instrument in God’s hand – to lead, to bless and protect, and to be strong in the faith. He doesn’t have the sole responsibility but the leading responsibility.
I heard someone say this, “If Jesus knocked on the door and my wife answered the door, Jesus would say, “Hello, Sonia, (his wife’s name), is Sean home? We need to talk.”
Deuteronomy 1:29-31 gives an account of the Children of Israel, of how God fought off their enemies, how He carried them out of slavery and provided for them and brought them into the Promised Land. In the wilderness God carried them ‘as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’
Fathers, trust what God knows. Trust His timing and the process He’s allowing you to go through. He knows how to give good gifts at just the right time for you, so you can give to your children.
Fathers, your faith is a source of hope and comfort for your children, and they look to you for reassurance. Your faith becomes the refuge for them like it says in Proverbs 14:26, ‘Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.’
When you return to God’s best plan for your life, you’ll discover that this is what you’d really wanted all along. God is able to use the mistakes for good in your life when you run into Him.
In the Old Testament, there are promises and patterns for us. Right before a father passes away, he’d gather his sons and begin to lay his hands upon them as Isaac and Jacob did (Genesis 49). They declared over their children their future, blessings, and pouring into them the good word, and prophesied of their challenges.
I’m thankful for our good men – husbands and fathers – whom God has blessed us with. They’re our examples of courage and honour because what God has done for and in them, they can do for their children. May our fathers impart destiny, vision, and identity to their children and children’s children.
Have a very Happy Father’s Day!