The Bible tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). A Christian father’s first and greatest responsibility is to acquaint his children with God through Scripture. One of the reasons this is so important is because what children learn about God will put them in good standing throughout their lives, no matter what they do and where they go.
God uses the Christian father as an instrument for instruction and discipline, in which God commands and administers. Ephesians 6:4 is a summary of instructions to fathers. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). A wise father seeks to make obedience desirable and attainable by love and gentleness. We know from history that the father was to be diligent in instructing children in the ways and words of the Lord for their own spiritual development and well-being. The father who was obedient to the commands of Scripture did just that. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” To “train” indicates that the first teaching that a father and mother give a child. This training is created in a way to make clear to children the life they are intended for, a life of great importance.
The truth is, it isn’t easy to be a good father. However, there are a few principles that can help. Successful Christian fathers have found that he and his family benefits when he follows the wisdom found in the Bible. Here are five principles Christian fathers live by:
They Make Time for Their Family
A good Christian father makes time for his family and anchors his family in Christ. He provides the needs of his family. No other teacher can affect a child as much as their parents. For this reason, it’s important that fathers teach their children both by their example and their words. A Christian father not only meets the physical needs of his family, but also the emotional needs of his family as well. The family turns to him as a support in all areas of need and he provides as best he can.
They Love and Respect Their Wives
A Christian father loves and respects his wife. He serves as an example to his children of what a loving relationship looks like so that they may also reflect it in their lives, particularly when it comes to their marriages. When a man enters into a covenant relationship with his bride, he commits to the responsibilities of loving, honoring and cherishing her. The strength a Christian husband needs in order to carry out these responsibilities flows out of his relationship with God. This requires dependence on God’s Spirit. The beautiful thing is we have the assurance that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). A Christian father should ask God to empower him so that they can give their children not just an inheritance, but a heritage. They ultimately give their wife what she needs most – to be loved, honored and cherished.
They Give Loving Discipline and CommendationThe Bible tells us, “You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted” (Colossians 3:21). A Christian father doesn’t just discipline. He disciplines lovingly and commends his children in the process. No matter how frustrated or angry he gets, he expresses loving concern for the welfare of his children. This includes advice, correction, education and chastisement when needed. In addition, he recognizes that discipline is way more effective when a father commends his children regularly. This enriches a child’s character as they will know when they are acknowledged and appreciated.
They Are Good Communicators
A Christian father should be a good communicator, not only communicating biblical principles to their children, but also being a careful listener. Instead of being a reaction waiting to happen, they have the ability to listen calmly without being judgmental. When a child knows their father will lose their temper quickly, they are less likely to communicate their inner feelings to him. But when they know their father listens calmly, they believe they are respected and that there is a genuine interest in what is being said. The Bible tells us, “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath” (James 1:19). We know from Scripture that fathers who apply this biblical principle communicate better with their children.
They Apply God’s Practical Wisdom
A Christian father will apply God’s practical wisdom to their everyday life and guide their children in the same way. Deuteronomy 6:5-6 says, “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 on your hearts.” Fathers who are in a committed relationship with God can guide their children in the greatest relationship they will ever have – an intimate relationship with their heavenly Father.
The greatest example of what a father should look like is God, Himself. The Bible reveals that there is only one perfect Father who is God. The pages of the New Testament give us an incredible glimpse of the marvelous relationship between God the Father and Christ the Son. On three separate occasions, the Bible records these words of the Father to His Son: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 17:5). This is the kind of relationship fathers should strive for with their children. There is no greater source than God, the greatest Father of all.