Early in my life, I jumped into fatherhood with both feet and no experience. The day I got married, I became a dad of twin 4-year-olds. Six months later, we piled into a moving truck and headed out of town to answer God’s call to ministry. It was a stressful yet rewarding time, as I struggled to support my family and go to school full time.
Four years later, we had another son. At that point, I had a thesis to write and no more emotional gas left in the tank. Desperate to stay motivated, I asked God, what am I going to do? And He responded: write about the biggest need in your life.
So I wrote about the role and responsibility of the father. I answered two main questions: What is the role of a dad according to God — who is a dad to be? And second, what’s his responsibility – what is a dad to do?
What I learned all those years ago is still true today. A dad’s role in his family is significant. Recent studies show the father profoundly influences his children’s moral development, self-image and sexual identity. Kids who grow up with the presence of an engaged, caring and loving father are less likely to live in poverty, get on welfare, go to prison, and get pregnant before they marry.
So if we know it’s so important, why is so hard for us to be effective fathers? Most of us dads never had model. We also live in a culture where the role of men is minimized, where we’re told, “you’re not needed in your family.”
Dads, please know this: Your kids need you desperately!
Fathers are the primary shapers of their children’s values. So, whether we like it or not, our kids are going to turn out a lot like us. Luke 6:40, says, “A learner, when fully trained, will be just like his teacher.” Likewise, a child will imitate his father.
The greatest impact you can have on your kids is to be the kind of person you want them to become.
The Apostle Paul uses a metaphor of the father to express his relationship with a particular church where he led many people to Christ. As their “spiritual father,” Paul lead by example and encouraged them to “be imitators” of him (1 Cor. 4:14-16).
The Bible also shows us that a man’s primary role in his family is to be a leader. So what does a leader look like? Leaders make things happen. They focus on objectives, take initiative, and they give and set directions.
Maybe you already do this at work. I challenge you to bring the same intensity and focus to your family as you do with your job. Here are three questions a leader asks and how to apply them to your own family:
- Where are we at now? Where is my child emotionally, spiritually, etc.?
- Where do we need to go? What do I need to do? How can I help them to be all they need to be?
- What do we need to do to get there? What does my child need to grow and to be more like Jesus?
This week we begin Portrait of a Father. In it, we will talk about how to be a more effective dad and become the kind of person you want your children to imitate. We will talk about what a Biblical father looks like as the leader, priest, teacher and lover of the home. I encourage you during this time, to ask God – who is the perfect father – to help you and give you hope as you grow as a father.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip