NOTE: This week's blog is written by my good friend Sandala Mwanje. Please enjoy!
I have many responsibilities in life, but being a dad is by far the greatest, most challenging, and most joyful of all my responsibilities. In my view, being a father is the role that most mimics the character of God. It’s, therefore, the highest calling that any son of man may be called to. By the way, The New Testament’s favourite description of God is “God the Father.”
You see, in any other role, you can finish your workday, take a day off, take leave, resign or retire, but not in your role as a father. Being a father is 24/7, a full-time job, with no salary, and no retirement. Fathers are essential workers.
In discussing fatherhood, the Bible sort of assumes that we know something about what it means to have a father, and rightly so, for we all spring from fathers. Therefore, sometimes the Bible draws illustrations from this earthly relationship to show us what is true about God the Father. To truly understand fatherhood, you can’t end with the example of an earthly father. If you do, you are starting from too low, and consequently aiming too low! To understand fatherhood, begin from God the Father. At its core, earthly fatherhood is derived from heavenly fatherhood.
If we begin from God the Father, we will see our blessedness, our weaknesses, and our need for daily grace. So, what are the biblical traits of a father?
It means to bring into being. A father gives life, just as God is the ultimate Father of all creation. Paul states this truth this way, “Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:29). The Bible traces one’s being from fatherhood.
If you have fathered a child, responsibility for that child is non-negotiable. Neglect of this duty is a grave sin! Neglect in this matter is one that is so UNLIKE God. Fatherhood as the “source” also means constantly giving. It is “a righteous man that leaves an inheritance for his children.” (Pro 13:22)
To Be There
The term “absentee father,” is a contradiction of terms. To be a father is to be around. To be a father is to be there as a provider, protector, and guide. Consider Job 29:16, “I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.” Also consider Job 31:18, “for from my youth the fatherless grew up with me as with a father, and from my mother's womb I guided the widow.”
“Being there” is the essence of the father/child relationship! A father must walk with his children, and he must be around whenever he is needed.
Fathers know how weak and prone to wander their kids are. Thus, there is an absolute necessity for compassion! In the most critical of situations, the world’s love for you will have a limit, but a father’s love is limitless. Consider what the Psalmist is saying here, “As a father shows compassion to his children, So the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103: 13-14)
As a basic building block of society, “a father is the final authority in the child’s life. As a result, the Bible is categorically clear on the need to respect and honour your father and mother. Consider what Jesus says and means here, “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7)Therefore, the only answer expected from the child is, “Yes dad!”
It is this authority that establishes the father’s right to discipline his children. Consider what the Bible is saying on this, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? (Hebrews 12:7-9).
When fathers give up their God-given authority, parenting becomes impossible! This authority must be established the very moment a father learns he’s going to be a father!
Contrary to popular belief, a father is a figure of comfort. When life’s storms and winds blow, a child should run to the father and not run away from the father. Consider this trait about God the Father, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2Corinthias 1:3).
In the parable of the Lost Son, the son considered running back to his father’s house! Why? He knew and was assured of his father’s compassion. Am I such a father to my children?
Aims For The Uttermost Good, And Wellbeing of His Children
God the Father sought for our highest good and wellbeing when he gave us His son, Jesus Christ, to free us from sin. Here is how the apostle Paul puts it, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3).
The Bible assumes and expects that fathers would seek their children’s highest good in all things (spiritually, morally, educationally)!
This past Sunday was “Father’s Day,” a day that may end with gifts and appreciation. As good as these things may be, it is imperative for us to have a long term and foundational understanding of what it means to be a father. Society today is bleeding at every level, largely because of father failures. To fix society, we must first of all, fix fathers.