When I hear the word 'Father' I think of God the Father - Jehovah. I think of the Patriarchs, Job, Noah, Abraham, Jacob. The image that comes to my mind of a father is that of a provider, leader, communicator, protector, nurturer, worker. Some one who is worthy of respect and honour for the responsibility and hard work this calling entails.
And then I think, where do I fit in to this picture? Am I living up to these expectations? Does one qualify as a father because they have children or are there more credentials to obtain before one is to be called a father? Being a father is not only a great responsibility but a huge challenge and one that daily presses down on most fathers. The amazing thing is that for such a weighty task very little preparation is done until one actually becomes a father. All training is literally 'on the job'.
Pilots, lawyers and doctors train before practising - fathers practice while they are training. Pilot to passengers: "This is your captain speaking, we are approaching Hobart airport and will be landing as soon as I read the instructions." Brain surgeon to patient: "Bear with me, I have only done this on rats". Nurse to new father "Congratulations, you're a father. You now need to do the course which runs for the next 20 years".
Doing the fatherhood course is very interesting and unpredictable. Just when you think you are getting a handle on your kids they mutate their characters when moving through their development stages. Twins - unexpected, they never told me about this in the job description. Spare a thought for the man who is endeavouring to be a good husband, hold down a job, cope with all the events in his life, then enters fatherhood with the challenges of raising his children. Being a Father in this new century will have as many challenges as the one just past. We could be entering a century that is hostile to fathers.
All husbands are not fathers but all fathers should be husbands. The role of father is constantly being questioned as Godly roles and values are eroded. Prov 30:11: "There is a generation that curses its father, And does not bless its mother". Whether we are in the 1st century or the 21st century fathers need to be as God planned them to be.
This lesson is delivered by a father still in training. Therefore the guides, points and recommendations will come from the instruction manual written by my Father - The Bible. There are many key attributes that fathers must strive towards. Here are some as exhibited by various great men of the bible.
Judges 13: Fathers are to be communicators.
Having a good relationship with your wife and the mother of your children is vitally important. An angel visits Manoah's wife and tells her that although she is barren, a son will be born to her. Vs 6: Manoah listens to his wife patiently. He could have given his wife heaps for not finding out more about this man. Vs 8: Manoah prays that the man comes again to us and teaches us what to do for our boy.
1. Communicate with God about your children. (Pray)
2. Communicate with your wife. (Talk & listen)
3. Communicate with your children.
God sends the angel again to Manoah's wife and she seeks Manoah. They both receive the angel's instructions and then proceed to offer a sacrifice to God. When the angel ascends to heaven in the flames of the sacrifice it dawns on them who the visitor was. Vs 22 - 23 Manoah thinks they will die for seeing God. His wife is quicker to understand than him and explains otherwise.
1 Samuel 17: Fathers are to be protectors
Fathers are faced with many challenges, problems and sometimes threats. Some seem insurmountable. In facing these challenges with preparation and planning they can be overcome.
Vs 32 David chose to confront and fight Goliath. Fathers need to face with confidence a problem that threatens the family and reassure those involved.
Vs 40 Before David confronted Goliath he picked five good stones. Consider all your options and proceed well prepared with back up plans if required.
Vs 48 David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet Goliath. Commit yourself to solving your challenge, meet it head on and give it your best shot.
When sailing, a skipper sees many potential courses, problems and solutions but rarely reveals them to the crew until he decides on the appropriate action or direction. He will then make his decision, announce it and carry out his plan. All the while keeping a calm and reassuring appearance.
Acts 2: Fathers are to be defenders of the Faith and Godly principles
Vs 14 Peter, when sensing he was being mocked made a stand and told it how it was regardless of the danger. Fathers must not be afraid to speak out, to answer those who challenge their faith or principles. I Pet 3:15: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and reverence".
Vs 22 Peter, steps out and takes the opportunity to address all men about his faith. His hair must have been standing up on the back of his neck.
Exodus 18: Fathers are to be hard workers
Moses is visited by his father in law Jethro, who observes Moses' work in supervising the people.
Vs 17,18 Moses was giving his all in doing his job. Fathers need to give one hundred per cent of their effort in providing for and looking after their family.
Ruth 2: Fathers are to be benevolent providers
Vs 8 Boaz had compassion and provided for Ruth and her widowed mother in law. Sometimes a helping hand at the right time can be like a miracle.
Vs 15,16 Boaz not only provided but gave protection. Part of being a father is also helping those outside the family.
Joshua 24: Fathers are to be spiritual leaders
Joshua explains to all the people what God had done for them, from ancient times until their present day.
Vs 14,15 Joshua makes a leadership decision regardless of the influence and actions of others. Fathers need to lead out with conviction and determination regardless of the surrounding pressures. Fathers as leaders must also be responsible for their decisions and actions. We can't just flick pass the ball and let some one else be tackled.
Genesis 17 & 22: Fathers are to believe the unbelievable
17:19 Abraham is promised a son in his old age. 22:1,2 Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac. The Siberian dilemma - your friend falls through the ice. Pull him out and he'll freeze to death in 4 minutes. Leave him in the water he'll freeze in 3 minutes. When faced with great dilemmas fathers are to put their faith in God that things will work out.
22:13 God provided the sacrifice.
Genesis 6: Fathers are to be righteous men
Vs 8-10 Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time. Noah walked with God.
Vs 13-14 And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood".
Vs 22 "Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did". Heb 11:7 "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith".
Noah was a great example to all fathers in any century. A communicator - Still could work with his sons after one hundred years. Married for perhaps five centuries. A protector - Their's was the only Godly family on earth and he saw them safely into the ark. A defender of the Faith - II Pet 2:5 states that he was a preacher of righteousness. A hard worker - He and his family built by hand a wooden ship 450 feet long by 75 feet wide (just over half the size of the Titanic). A benevolent provider - He was also concerned about the welfare of his daughters in law. A spiritual leader - He was righteous, blameless and walked with God. A believer of the unbelievable - Noah was told of the destruction of all the living on earth. He had to build a 450 foot ship. He had to prepare for the coming flood. He had to look after thousands of animals.
All fathers will go through tough times in being a father. Some walk away from it. God wants us the stick with it and see it through. What ever happens talk to God about it so we can be successful fathers in the 21st century. Here are some "Hang in there" verses to encourage us to do this:
Psalm 18:1-3: "I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies".
Heb.13:5-6: "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
Our father will always be with us as we strive to be Godly fathers. Godly
fathers are a great factor in raising Godly families.