Bob Tamasy: Lifting Up Fathers To Their Proper Uplifting Roles

  • Thursday, June 13, 2024

In the hierarchy of holidays, Father’s Day probably ranks far below Mother’s Day. Maybe because dad didn’t carry his offspring around for nine months before their first public appearance. And when college football players are shown on the sidelines, they’re inclined to shout, “Hi, Mom!” rather than “Hi, Dad!”

However, Father’s Day shouldn’t be overlooked or downplayed. Fathers play a vital role not only in their own families, but also in society overall. Studies have shown that intact families – with both mother and father present – not only provide children with a sense of safety and security, but also enhance their chances for success in their adult lives.

This isn’t to deny the sad reality that many fathers have blown it – abdicating responsibilities altogether; divorcing their families; abusing their children physically, mentally and/or emotionally; or neglecting their kids, not giving the time and attention they desperately need.

Due to father-absence, many moms perform heroically as single parents, trying to raise their children alone while also working one or more jobs. But this was not God’s intent or design.

We see in the opening chapters of Genesis, the Lord created both man and woman “in His own image,” commanding that “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” He also instructed that they “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:27-28, 2:24). But never did God offer an escape clause that would free either father or mother from parenting responsibilities.

Consulting any concordance, we find hundreds of biblical references to fathers, not the least of which are those relating directly to God the Father. In fact, when asked by His disciples to teach them how to pray, Jesus Christ opened His model prayer with, “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” (Matthew 6:9).

Not only this, but Jesus claimed equal standing with God the Father, so in examining His life and teachings we can learn much about the character of God and the kind of character He expects from earthly fathers.

Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), a statement that sent the religious leaders of the time into a murderous tizzy. He elaborated, “If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him" (John 14:7). Plain and simple, to know Jesus is to know God.

To both believer and detractors, Jesus stated, “Do not believe Me unless I do what my Father does. But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works themselves, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father" (John 10:38).

What does this have to say for today’s fathers and grandfathers? For one thing, the life of Jesus provides a template for what godly fatherhood should look like. We could discuss the myriad character traits we see in Jesus throughout the gospel accounts. As 1 Peter 2:21 tells us, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.”

But there’s more. Both the Old and New Testaments give us principles to living out the uplifting role of father – how we’re to guide, teach, discipline, correct, and just ‘hang out’ with our children.

For example, Deuteronomy 4:9 directs fathers, Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:9). We’re to be living examples.

Being an effective, godly father must start with a genuine, enduring relationship with God Himself: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).

In today’s society many seem to have adopted a laissez-faire approach to parenting, letting children – even at a young age – follow their own course without interfering. Such a philosophy finds no support at all in the Scriptures. To the contrary, discipline, correction and instruction are integral parts of a father’s biblical ‘job description.’

It starts again with how we relate to our heavenly Father. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

Similarly, Proverbs 22:6 directs us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Far too many parents, especially fathers, haven’t done this. Choosing to let the world – the ‘global village’ – to serve as primary teacher for our children is a recipe for calamity.

What assurances does God provide for those who make the concerted effort to step forward and lead their children as He commands? Here are just two examples: “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17). “[God] will turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…” (Malachi 4:6).

We’re living in times that can best be described as chaos and anarchy. Although it’s not the sole cause, the widespread failures of fathers to carry out their God-given duties, I believe, have been a substantial contributor.

The apostle Paul was thinking foremost in terms of spiritual parenting – making disciples as Jesus commanded – but the following exhortation applies to raising human children as well:

“But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us…. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8,11-12).

For anyone struggling with how to be a good father, the Bible should be the first place to seek answers.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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