God speaks and things come to being. In Genesis 1:26-28 we learn that God created man in His own likeness, in His own image. He breathed life into man. And then His love for mankind was witnessed through Christ. John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’.
God is holy so man has the capacity for righteousness, holiness and in Colossians 3:10, also knowledge:’ ‘…and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator’. Man, especially when born again, is the image of God and he should therefore never look down upon himself.
God has placed certain responsibilities on man and they include stewardship and procreation. Stewardship is ruler ship and dominion over all creation-it delighted God to do this and man should therefore operate under this priviledge.
Procreation is a blessing of the Lord-that man may fill the earth. God could Himself have filled the earth with as many people as He wanted, but He has left this responsibility to man. In this man assumes two other responsibilities: that of husband and father. Therefore man is firstly a husband but secondly a father who exercises paternal responsibility over his children and wife.
Fatherhood is therefore defined by the contact the father has with the wife and children. Absentee fathers have no contact with their children and the myriad of problems suffered by troubled teenagers is evidence of what damage this causes.
There may exist a second father who would come in as an older male sibling-like and uncle who influences the child. In this ever changing world of reversed roles, this may well be a stay-at-home-dad as mum brings in the bread. Children may therefore be influenced by a biological or step father. Whoever this male is, his fatherhood status in the life of the child will be determined by his contact with that child.
A real father is naturally supportive. In the homestead, he reduces the naughtiness of children and in female children he reduces psychological problems and confusion that may arise in his absence in as far as they have to choose male partners in future. He is a point of reference when the girls want to settle down as parents. Research has shown that he impacts greatly on a son’s behaviour. Many psychological problems would be avoided if fathers took up their roles and positions in the home as God intended. We all have the capacity and potential to be what God intended us to be, and to be the fathers He meant us to be.
Fatherhood is one of the greatest blessings as well as challenges that God has given man. It brings joy when things go well but great sadness when they do not. Fatherhood demands four things of a father.
Firstly, that the father should love the wife and children unconditionally; Ephesians 5:25 says, ‘Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her’. Whereas Ephesians 6:4 instructs, ‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord’. A godly father is not only loyal to His marital wows but also loves his wife and children unconditionally. In a broken world, such as we live in, most men demand love from their wives forgetting that it is a command for them to exercise unconditionally. Children will only know how to love by seeing the way their father loves their mother. It is widely accepted that men are mainly not emotional beings, but they should be able to demonstrate their love to their wives so that children may not be in any doubt about it. This is the greatest gift that a father can give to his children because when he loves, honors and respects his wife, the children internalize this and feel secure and just flourish.
What a joy it would be if on his wedding day, a son would say to his father, “ I will come to you on some tips on how to love and run my family!” How proud a father would be if his married son came to him for counsel in times of marital turmoil!
When the prodigal son went back to his father, he was not chased away, neither was he judged. Instead he was embraced and made to feel welcome. The father’s love was not based on what the son could do or what he had failed to do, it was unconditional. Unfortunately most parents play favorites and like Esau was the favorite of his father, Jacob was the same of the mother. This is why Rebecca schemed and snatched the birthright from Esau. We all know what divisions this brought in the family.
A parent should show unconditional love for all her children. But children should also be able to see their father’s emotions.
Secondly, a father should guard, protect, guide and encourage his children. He should be there for them physically, mentally and emotionally so that they can know him, learn from him and draw from him the security of his loving presence. Not only should he be there for them, but he should help them make good choices in as far as friends, schools and careers are concerned’ by finding out what they want, he is able to advise them accordingly. Even after they are married, he should be there for them. A father should, however, realize that he can offer advice but that the children are not under obligation to take it. God has given him counsel to be a dad.
The power of life and death lie in the tongue and a father should not kill and curse his children with words. He should not react in anger. He may discipline the children but he should not injure their spirit.
Thirdly, a father should always provide for his family; these include shelter, clothing, education and food. However, he should delicately balance between being stingy and being excessive. What ultimately destroys most children is having more than enough while some fathers are just plain mean! Be sensitive to the desires of your children and remember to love your girls because if you do not, someone else will and then use them. Fathers do not fret because God will provide all your needs and desires so that you too may be a blessing to your family.
Fourthly, fathers should train and instruct their children. Once you love your children and they know it and also provide for their needs, then they will receive spiritual training. Tell them, show them and oversee their progress. Children are looking for role models, that you live what you say and not the ‘do what I say and not what I do’ story.
For widows and single mothers, by God’s grace you may manage to be both the mother and the father. But for the sake of identity, find people who can play the role of a father without harming them for we live in a wicked world. Fathers in church must arise and mentor the young men in church!
Men were created special as were women. But they have the responsibility of procreation and to be fathers and husbands. Woe unto those who sire children and do not stay long enough to take care of them; for they will yet have a day with the Lord to explain why they failed to honor their obligation as fathers- for to be a father comes with expectations. God is our Father and He plays His role wonderfully!