In John 13:15 we read, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” The example that Jesus set for His disciples was one of servitude. I believe that Jesus was implying here that they should follow His example not just in one area but in all areas of life. Over in Ephesians 6:4 we read that fathers are to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Parenthood is given as an example of the relationship of Christ with His church. Jesus nourishes His church. He works in us to bring us to maturity to ‘bring us up.’ The church matures as they follow the example that Jesus has set before them. Just as Jesus is an example for the church, fathers are to be examples for their children. There is nothing more devastating than a home with no father who sets a godly example for his children. As a father myself, it is my desire to be the right kind of example for my children to follow. I’d like to share with you 4 areas in which every father should be an example.
Example of faith. The father is the spiritual head of the home. He is to be an example of faith to his children. When we think of faith, we are referring in this context, to our life of faith. We are talking about the belief’s that govern the way we live. There are several essentials of faith that a father should be an example in. (1) Salvation. It is impossible for a father to be an example of faith unless he himself has a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. It begins with knowing Jesus. It begins with salvation. You can be the greatest dad in the world in many areas of life, yet, if you do not know the Lord, you have failed most miserably. The most important thing you can ever teach your children is the Gospel. The most important thing that you can ever show your children is how much you love Jesus. After all, when all is said and done, that is the only thing that matters. Fathers, do you know beyond any doubt that you are saved? Do you know that you are on your way to heaven? Have you trusted in Jesus for your salvation? If not, why not do so right now? You can never be a good father, you can never be a real man, until you have given your life to Jesus Christ? (2) Prayer. Children need to see their father living a life of prayer. How often does your children see you pray? How often do you lead your family in prayer? Is gathering with other believers for prayer a priority in your life? It is good to pray for your children and wife. It is good to have a quiet time alone to pray every day. But do your children see you doing it? Do they know that you pray for them? Prayer is our power. Without prayer, we are powerless. You cannot effectively lead your children and teach them if you do not live a life of prayer. (3) Bible Study. How can a father be the spiritual leader of his home if he does not know the Word of God? You don’t have to be a Bible scholar, but you should be a student of the Bible. Do your children know how important the Bible is to you? Do they see you at Sunday School and other small group Bible studies? Do they see you reading your Bible? Do they see you listening to sermons? Do you read the Bible to your children and lead your family in a regular family altar time? If the Bible is not important to you, it will not be important to your children. The amount of energy you put in to the study of God’s Word will be the amount of energy that will come from the Word into the lives of your children. Think about it. A dad who does not study the Bible consistently, regularly, and often is like a man going hunting without a gun or ammunition. (4) Church Attendance. It breaks my heart to see fathers that are absent from church. Your children need to know that going to church is not just for them but it is for you to. They need to see that being actively involved in and committed to a local church is a priority to you. Staying home from church to watch the ballgame or to get caught up on work around the house is setting a precedent for your family that you will one day regret. A father must be an example of faith for his children.
Example of tenderness. A father should be one that his very presence demands respect. He is the head of the home. He is the disciplinary of the home. Children should have some sense of fear when it comes to their father. However, a father who is a good leader and disciplinary will also be one that is tender. This is an area that we men fail at in many ways. Dads, momma is not the only one that can put on a bandage or kiss a bruise. Momma is not the only one who can comb your daughter’s hair or rock the little one to sleep. Just as we fear the wrath of God while at the same time run to God in time of need, so should our children fear our discipline while at the same time feel free and comfortable with running into our arms when they just need someone to hold them. Dads, be firm, yet tender.
Example of holiness. This is not an area that is easy to talk about. Personal holiness is something that we all struggle with especially in today’s world. But the Bible does teach that we are to be holy. There is a standard by which we are to live. Ephesians 5:1-12 provides great instruction on personal holiness. The key to such holiness is to be imitators or followers of God. Children tend to mimic what their parents do. They will talk like us, act like us, and take on our personality. In order for fathers to be an example of holiness to their children, he must follow God. He must live as Jesus would live. He must love as Jesus would love. It reminds me of that song that says, “I want to be just like You, because he wants to be like me.” This is my desire: to be just like Jesus, because my children want to be like me. Father’s be an example of holiness.
Example of manhood. Being a man does not mean you can rebuild an engine in an hour or kill a bear or catch the biggest fish. There are three ways that Fathers can be an example of manhood. (1) Provide for your family. There is nothing worse than a lazy man that will not provide for his family. Men, it is your responsibility to make sure there is food on the table. Yes, it may be hard. In cases were jobs are scarce, you may have to swallow your pride and get help from others, however, you must provide for your family. A real man is one with a strong work ethic. A real man will go out and work, even if it’s not the most desirable job, and will work hard to provide for his family. A man who has disabilities and cannot work can still work hard by doing whatever his body will allow him to do in order to make ends meet. The bottom line is that there is no excuse for a man who is too lazy to provide. (2) Show your children how to treat a woman. Real men will treat women with respect, love, and tender care. Dads, your children need to see you treating your wife in a God-honoring fashion. One thing that I love to do with my two girls is to take them out on dates. I started dating my daughters when they were as young as two. Every year on their birthday, I take them on a birthday date. My goal is to demonstrate to them how a man is to treat them. I want to be the kind of man that my daughters will want to marry someday. When they become of the age to be looking for a mate, I hope that they will desire to find a man that is like their daddy. That’s the kind of man I want to be. Dads, our sons need to see us treating women the right way. They are watching our every move and they hang on our every word. (3) Be there. Dads, I cannot stress this enough. Real men must be present in the home. Absent fathers will never have a positive influence on their children. Yes, you need to work to provide, but you do not have to live like kings. Work as much as is needed to provide the basic necessities for your family and then use the rest of your time to invest in your children. One of the greatest regrets that many older men have is that they spent too little time with their family. You cannot be an example if you are not there. Real men will be there.
Fatherhood can be a very scary thing. It is a huge responsibility. Yet, it is very rewarding. May we be men that our children can follow.