The best dads copy the best Father there is.
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Imagine the Earth being annihilated. This climactic scene plays out in sci-fi movies or in scenarios of a wayward asteroid crashing into Earth’s surface. But it is also part of an astounding Bible prophecy foretold to occur unless God intervenes in men’s affairs.
The end of the Old Testament explains that unless the Creator successfully turns “the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” He would have no choice but to “come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6). The word “curse” is tied to a Hebrew word meaning doom and extermination.
These ominous words make clear that the planet’s survival hinges on one thing: fatherhood.
Before dismissing this as allegorical Hebrew literature, consider the current impact of the lack of good fathers. As many as 7 out of every 10 youth in state-correctional facilities come from fatherless homes, according to the United States Department of Justice. In addition, a staggering 85 percent of all children who exhibit some type of behavioral disorder come from a fatherless home, as do 90 percent of children who run away from home or become homeless.
Girls who live in a fatherless home are two times more likely to experience obesity and are four times more likely to become mothers before age 20, National Public Radio reported. Fatherless children are more likely to smoke and abuse alcohol and drugs in childhood and adulthood.
Any society that continues along this path will not have to wait for God to exterminate it—it will destroy itself. If fathers only understood the crucial significance of their role!
A stable family unit is the foundation of a stable world. As family structure disintegrates, conditions in society decline.
Why does God place such importance in fathers and families? He originated the family structure. The husband was made to be the leader in his home with his wife offering crucial support (Gen. 2:18). Genesis 2:24 describes the regular family building process: a man leaving his father and mother to join a wife and start his own family.
Notice all the specific familial roles: father, mother, wife—and a husband, children and grandparents by extension—were all explained in this one verse. The process repeats as children from the new family have sons and daughters of their own (Gen. 1:28).
Sadly, many men have abdicated this God-given leadership duty. Whether due to ignorance or bad priorities, the result is the same. The traditional family unit is broken, which is breaking future generations. In many cases, this is the result of men not taking the lead. Because nature abhors a vacuum, women and children are taking the reins (Isa. 3:12).
Yet fathers should not resign themselves to failure. Realize that God is also a Father. Jesus Christ said, “Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
The reason God gives Himself the same label as the head of a physical family is spectacular beyond imagination. It also means men looking to be better dads and husbands do not have to guess what it takes—we can look to the Father in heaven for guidance.
Who Is the Father?
God created human beings in His image, and in His likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). He made people to look and act like Him. This connection applies even more to human fathers who are to look and act like the Father in leading their families.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The angel told Christ’s mother Mary she would “conceive” in her “womb, and bring forth a son,” and He would be called, “Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:31-32). Initially confused about how she would have a child without her husband, Mary learned that she would give birth to the “Son of God” through the power of the Holy Spirit (vs. 35).
Most know of Christ as God’s Son—but few consider God’s role as His Father.
Jesus Christ talked about His Father throughout His earthly ministry. During His introductory Sermon on the Mount (recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7), Christ referred to the Father 17 times. Aside from one time Jesus said “My Father,” every reference was “your Father” or “our Father.” God wants to be a father to us all.
Realizing that the God of the entire Bible—both Old and New Testaments—is a Father opens worlds of possibilities for His human counterparts. Dads have an entire book of perfect and powerful examples of what a father is and what a father does.
God “fathered” Creation. He, along with Christ, made all things (Eph. 3:9; John 1:1-3), including the first human family which went on to fill the Earth with children. Similarly, fathers create and build their own families.
Our Creator has many characteristics and traits that make Him an effective Father. Consider the nine “fruits” or expressions of God’s spiritual personality: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal. 5:22). A man who exhibits these characteristics—loves his wife and children, creates an atmosphere of joy and peace in his home, is willing to suffer long and be gentle when his children make mistakes, is kind and has faith in his family’s ability to overcome anything under his guidance, and who is himself humble and has self-control—is a father anyone would want!
Here is an extended list of God’s attributes for fathers to emulate. (Take the time to look up each verse as a Bible study.) The Father:
• Is a leader (Psa. 5:8; Isa. 42:16; Eph. 5:1)
• Is a teacher (John 6:45; Isa. 54:13; Psa. 71:17)
• Is a provider (Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:31-33; 7:7, 11)
• Is our example (I Pet. 1:16; Psa. 85:13; I John 2:5-6)
• Is loving, kind and generous (I John 4:11; John 3:16; Rom. 2:4)
• Is consistent (Mal. 3:6; Jms. 1:17)
• Is merciful and forgiving (Eph. 1:7; I John 1:9; Luke 6:35-36; Psa. 130:3-4)
• Disciplines when necessary (Heb. 12:6; Deut. 8:5)
• Is a protector (Psa. 23:1; Isa. 41:10; Psa. 145:14)
• Provides guidance (Prov. 3:6; Eph. 5:1)
You do not have to simply imagine a human family headed by man with these qualities—God the Father openly sets Himself as the standard (Lev. 20:7; Matt. 5:48). He is the original head of the human family and uses human fathers to develop and exhibit the qualities needed to lead their families the way He would.
This may all sound unattainable for earthly fathers, but it is not. Remember, God used the same word to describe Himself and men leading their families. Fathers, let this inspire you.
Be Like the Father!
A natural question if you feel you have fallen short in any area of fatherhood is, “Where do I begin?” The short answer to that question is, “Begin where you are.” Your children are never too young or too old for you to change. Just as important, neither are you. You will always be their father—no matter how old they get!
Becoming a better dad can feel daunting at first, but a few basic biblical principles can help you start on the right track toward becoming like God the Father.
You have heard it said that the man is the “head” of his home and that his wife must “submit” to him. Such language is typically met with an eye-roll or scoff. This is mostly because it is taken out of the context God intended. Read all of Ephesians 5:22-29.
This passage describes marriage and the parental relationship like a human body. All living bodies have a head attached to it. The human head cannot function without a body to supply it with life-giving blood and to help it move around. At the same time, the human body with its chest, torso, arms, legs, hands and feet must be directed by a brain that sits inside its head.
The label “head of the house” is not code for a man’s wife and children being his slaves, merely existing to do his every bidding. God told the husband and father to see his wife and family as an extension of himself. The body is no better than the head and the head is no better than the body!
Do not miss the point. The man and the woman need each other (I Cor. 11:11).
It is crucial to keep in mind that the man is not the one ultimately in charge. God says, “The head of every man is Christ. And the head of a woman is the man. And the head of Christ is God” (I Cor. 11:3). How often have you heard this verse? Probably not nearly as much as the ones twisted to justify men being domineering to their wives and mistreating them and their children.
God the Father leads Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ leads human fathers. Human fathers lead their wives and wives lead the children. It is all set up to work seamlessly so long as everyone knows and fulfills their roles.
Treat with Love and Respect
Husbands are to love their wives the same as Christ loved the Church and gave His life for it. Jesus Christ gave His life for all mankind to have life (John 3:16).
Giving your life for someone else is the greatest form of love anyone can show. However, God is not advocating men to hang on a cross or a stake for their wives and children, though most might say they would give their lives to save the life of a family member.
Instead, a husband and father must devote himself to his wife and children by being a living sacrifice. This means he will brush aside other pursuits that crowd out his responsibility as the leader of his home.
John 15:13 says: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” If this goes for friends, how much more does it go for family?
A good father treats his wife with love and respect at all times. God does not look kindly on men who mistreat their wives and children. Husbands are told to “love your wives, and be gentle to them” (Col. 3:19).
This wise treatment also applies to a husband dealing with his children.
Children are commanded to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-2). But this instruction is attached to a special command for fathers, “And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (vs. 4).
Fathers must be balanced in training and disciplining their children. Talk with your children, not down to them.
Too often, fathers deal harshly with their children. This usually results from unreasonable expectations of their little ones, forgetting they do not have the same life experience. Fathers who focus only on admonition appear to their kids as harsh and unapproachable. Consequently, this crushes children’s spirits, which usually impacts them for the rest of their lives (Col. 3:21).
Equally problematic is the man who, wanting to avoid being a “bad guy” or supposedly wanting to be “nurturing,” leaves all discipline to his wife. However, this is not fair to wives, who become pitted against their husbands in the eyes of the children.
Children become discouraged and bitter if fathers only punish them, but will run roughshod if fathers never do. Dads must therefore nurture and admonish their kids, showing compassion or firmness when the situation calls for it. Remember, God the Father is merciful and compassionate with us, yet He disciplines when necessary.
Role as a Provider
A man who abandons his family is worthless to them and to himself (I Tim. 5:8). If he refuses to support his wife and children, whether financially or emotionally, he really has a problem with himself (Eph. 5:28-29).
Men are to cherish their families and thus themselves. This must be done with his words and actions.
The man is a direct representation of God over his home and must see his role that way. Men, everything happens on your watch. This is the price of being “in charge.”
It takes a lot to be the godly head of the home. The proper way to start: Ask God for wisdom and guidance (Jms. 1:5), then use this wisdom to run the family.
Reference the Bible verses throughout this article to better seek God’s wisdom on fatherhood. Apply them the next time your wife comes to you with a problem to solve or your son or daughter is struggling with a situation.
Conquer your lusts and human appetites (Col. 3:8-9; Rom. 12:21). Prioritize spending more time with your wife and children instead of hanging out with co-workers or friends. Read a book with them or designate certain times to share a meal together. Your presence and engagement means more than empty words.
Be willing to take correction from your wife or even children (Heb. 12:6-7). You may be the leader of the home, but you nor any father is perfect.
Openly discuss goals and plans with your family using God’s Word as a guide (Prov. 29:18; Psa. 119:105). Paint a vision of success and do your part to help them get there.
Fathers, get on your knees and ask for God’s help in loving your wife and children, and to root out selfishness.
By continuing to practice these qualities, you will inspire your wife and children. They will love you all the more as a result.
The Future of Fathers
While reading, you may have wondered: Why did God design families in the first place? Why does He want fathers to be like Him by leading their families?
Let’s revisit why God calls Himself a Father. The reason is beyond imagination.
The Father gave human beings the family relationship to prepare all mankind to be a part of His Family. This is not in some distant or ethereal way. No, it is to be an actual child of God—to have the same kind of body, mind and power He has!
Yes, what you just read is true and your possible future.
God’s Family presently has two members, the Father and Jesus Christ. Both are “God” (John 1:1-3). Often throughout the Bible, the term God is used as a family name, rather than an individual name.
Note what God said during the creation of man: “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness…” (Gen. 1:26). A couple chapters later, “the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us” (Gen. 3:22).
The reason for this is the word translated “God” in both these passages is translated from the Hebrew word Elohim, which designates a collection of individuals such as a team, church or group. A family is a group made up of more than one person.
At that time, it was the Father and the One who would be born into the world as Jesus Christ who were the only two members of this God-plane relationship. Together, they formed human beings in their likeness—just physical. They also created the human family modeled after the divine Family. The roles of human father/husband, mother/wife, and children each exist to help human beings practice becoming a member of God’s Family for all eternity. The Bible referred to men long ago as “gods.” Christ reminded the religious leaders of His day of this fact when they attacked Him for calling Himself the Son of God (Psa. 82:6; John 10:34-36).
This is awesome understanding few grasp. Mankind’s future is not to roll around heaven playing harps all day and night. It is to be divine members of God’s Family—true children of God the Father! And, since the Father made the universe and all things in it, being a child of God entails being a “heir of all things” (Heb. 1:2).
You should now see why fatherhood, which is simply one element of God’s awesome plan, is so vital to understand. Without fathers fulfilling their proper family roles, the entire planet is in peril.
It all starts with you. Each individual father must strive to be the best he can be by knowing his role and taking it as seriously as God does. Wives and children should also understand the father’s role as well as their own.
For more detail on mankind’s awesome potential, read David C. Pack’s book The Awesome Potential of Man. You will be awestruck by all the Bible has to say about mankind’s future in God’s Family.