The Role of a Father
Why am I writing a post about a father’s heart on a women’s blog? Because we all have a father of our own, our children have one, we may be married to one, our sons grow up and become one, and as a single mom, you are one. Fathers, both biological and surrogate, have a crucial role to play in our lives. Much of who we are and what we become is determined by our dads and the relationship we have with them.
I was recently exposed to a situation where a father is suing his own son. Apparently, this does happen in real life, not just in movies or on Judge Rinder! It got me thinking about the characteristics of a good father and the impact they have on their children’s lives.
What is a Father?
Besides the biological obvious, what does it mean to be a father? Between culture, circumstances, background and upbringing, you aren’t likely to receive a standard answer, if one at all. From absentee fathers to hands-on fathers, every man has his own idea of what his job entails. Women also have their own idea of what a father figure should be, based on their experiences.
Who is right and where do we turn for guidance? Where do young people learn what an ideal father figure is if they have never had one?
Our Father’s Heart
We are incredibly blessed to have the Bible and a Heavenly Father who we can turn to for answers. The Bible gives us a clear insight into the character of God the Father and the ideal image of how an earthly father should be. We can find direction in God’s word even if we have been disappointed by our own fathers and have a distorted view of the father-figure.
Here are 10 qualities that stand out for me when reflecting on the Heart of our Father:
- Loves-first and foremost. He loves unconditionally with an everlasting love.
- Disciplines us for our own benefit, not out of revenge or bitterness.
- Forgives instantly. There may be consequences, but God doesn’t hold sin against us.
- Provides for us as promised in Matthew 6:31-33
- Gives gifts and blessings and will never stop doing good
- Protects us
- Trustworthy-God never lets us down.
- Available all day, every day.
- Knows us intimately
I came across a PDF some time ago called “The Fathers Love Letter.” There is a beautiful presentation on the website, which truly captures the Fathers Heart. Follow this link to see it.
When Fathers destroy
Sadly, the father’s role is diminished, non-existent or destructive in many families. I have been counseling for long enough to see how many adults are broken because of defunct relationships with their fathers. Referring to the case I mentioned, the fact that a father-son relationship can reach this point is tragic. Unfortunately, this is a reality we are facing more frequently nowadays. Hurt people hurt. This father himself is a product of his own father’s behavior and without Biblical wisdom or God in his life, knows no better.
Can we change this pattern? And if so, how?
How do you teach someone to be loving and forgiving when their own father is cruel and unforgiving? It is indeed a challenge to teach kids to honor a father who has hurt them, or to negate the damage done through rejection. This is where women are having to step up to the plate, in increasing measures, to stand in the gap. It’s tough, but not impossible. I do believe that with the right weapons: prayer, support, wisdom and demonstration, we can make a difference. God says that all things are possible and I believe it.
When moms are dads
As moms, our lives are intricately entwined in these relationships. There are times when we have to mediate or advise and it’s not always easy. This is not God’s design for families, children need a positive father-figure in their lives. The best we can do is adhere to the image of God as far as possible. We can’t be dads, but we can still model our homes on the same biblical principles as if a dad was there. Don’t ever underestimate the grounding it provides for your family. Children need to see these qualities displayed more than anything you can buy for them.
The Bible states very emphatically that we must honor and obey our parents. The number of times this is repeated suggests it is important to God. But what if the father is acting wrongfully? How do you counsel a person who has been hurt by a father? I know mom’s hurt their children too, but we are focussing on the specific role of dads here so as not to complicate the topic.
Don’t despair when you find yourself in a difficult situation such as the one I mentioned. Remember the Fathers Heart first and foremost and keep applying those principles. Challenges can be beneficial if approached in the right way, God is in the business of turning bad situations into good. It also gives us an opportunity to show a Christ-like character. After all, it is easy to honor when a person is honorable, not so much when they are dishonorable. God uses situations such as these to reveal Himself.
Parenting with the Father’s Heart
It goes without saying, cover your children daily in prayer and model your heart on that of the Father.
As I mentioned, honoring a parent is very important to God. However there are 2 scriptures that are often overlooked, but I believe are extremely important to us as parents.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Eph 6:4. A father should not provoke a child to anger so that they react in a way that is considered dishonorable. Always act in love. It is our duty to demonstrate the real Fathers Heart. Yes, we fall short and can never match up to the perfect example of our heavenly Father, but we can aim to parent with those qualities, as dads or as moms of children without dads.
Col 3:21 “Fathers do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Children who are discouraged, grow up feeling rejected and often turn to destructive behavior to overcome. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
As sons and daughters, if your father image fell short according to the Bible’s description of a father, be encouraged. Take heed of the words from the link I posted. Listen to those words repeatedly if necessary. Allow them to sink in and know, that is the Father’s Heart. Place your identity firmly in that place and uproot any wrong thoughts.
If you have a loving earthly father, thank God for him. We are grateful and blessed for all the dads that provide for and lead their families with honor, love, and integrity.