Father’s Day is not only a day to honor our fathers’ but it’s also a day, as President Calvin Coolidge said,
“To impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations [and to encourage fathers] to establish a closer relationship [with] their children”.
President Coolidge’s point — Fathers have an obligation to their families — was not only timely in his day, but also in ours because many fathers simple aren’t manning up.
A Father’s Impact by the Statistics
According to the 2014 census Bureau 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are living without a father. That’s roughly 17.4 million children.
While that statistic alone is astounding, it holds even greater weight when you consider the impact fathers have in the home. Nearly half — 45% — of fatherless homes live in poverty. The median income for families led by a single mother is 26k, while the median income for married families is 84k. Around 45.8% of single mothers receive food stamps.
Fathers, however, don’t just play a financial role in families, they also play a developmental role. In those households where fathers are present children tend to fair better cognitively, be better behaved, have a greater psychological well-being, are less likely to be delinquents and find themselves incarcerated, are less likely to abuse substances, and are less likely to be poor when they get older.
Also children who grow up with fathers in the home typically delay sexual activity, attend college, get a higher paying job, and have a stable family life when they get married.
There is more, but I think you get the idea: Father’s have a huge impact on their homes.
A Father’s Job Requires More than Just Being Home
A father’s job, however, is not done, just by being home. Fathers also have to be involved. One major way fathers are to be involved is by training their children in God’s Word.
In Ephesians 6:4, Paul says,
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4)
We learn in this verse that Father’s are to lead their families by bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Word of God.
In order for fathers to do that, they have to see themselves as the primary spiritual leader. They can’t pawn it off on mom or the church. They have to be the spiritual leader themselves. Now that doesn’t mean mom or the church can’t instruct our children — that is not what I am saying. Instead what I am getting at is that fathers have to realize and take responsibility for being the primary spiritual leader in their household.
As the leader, as our child’s instructor, we are not only to instruct them in everyday things, but we are also to instruct them in the Word of God.
This goes for those who have children at home, and for those whose children have left the home. We are always our kids father, so we should always be teaching them. That will certainly look different when they are in the home, than when they are out, but we should always be playing a teaching role in their lives.
I can’t stress how important that is. I can’t stress how important it is for fathers to lead their families in a biblical way. I can’t stress how important it is for our society and our church for fathers to be involved in the spiritual development of their children.
A Father’s Job Requires the Power of the Gospel
But here’s the thing. We often fail at our job. I know I do. As I thought about why I fail, I realized its because I am selfish. I am selfish with my time, with my wants, and my desires. You see, instead of using my time in preparation or training, I shirk my responsibility to do what I want. You know what, I’ll continue to do that until Jesus changes my heart from one of selfishness to one of selflessness. Thankfully, Jesus will change our hearts and will continue to change our hearts.
Jesus is able to change our hearts because, unlike us, he didn’t shirk His responsibility. Instead He did exactly what the Father asked. He went to the cross as our Savior.
Those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are made into a new creation whose hearts are changed, and are consistently being changed through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Then, and only then, are we able to fulfill God’s command — to instruct our children in His Word. That tells us:
Fathers can only lead their families by the power of the gospel.
That is an important idea to grasp because it means we can’t accomplish the task God has asked of fathers apart from Him. We can’t do it by trying harder. We can’t do it by pulling up our bootstraps. We can only do it through the power of the gospel.
Instructing our children in God’s Word requires more than self-determination, it requires a changed heart and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
As fathers, we have to recognize our own inadequacy. We have to recognize we can’t be the father God has called us to be in our own power. We have to recognize that because its only then that will we turn to God. It is only then that we will rely on Him and seek His power.
So we see there is not only a need for fathers to be at home and to be involved, but there is also a need to be renewed and empowered by the gospel. It is only then that fathers will lead their families as God desires.
So fathers, let’s lean into the gospel. Let’s take God’s Word seriously. Let’s be involved in our kids lives. Let’s train them, let’s instruct them in the Word of God. Let’s man up this Father’s Day.
Question for Reflection
- Are you your child’s primary spiritual leader?