4 Inspired Portraits Revealing the Roles of a Faithful Father

By Chip Ingram
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How to Be the Dad Your Child Needs

Explore the four crucial roles that every father needs to fill in his children’s lives: leader, priest, teacher and loving dad.

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Consider 4 inspired portraits that reveal the unique responsibilities and roles of a faithful father.

  1. Leader
  2. Priest
  3. Teacher
  4. Lover

Over the decades I have spent parenting our children, I have done a lot of pondering over the roles of a faithful father. And it all began with a dream.

Men, have you ever awakened, in the middle of the night in a panic? A terrifying thought comes to your mind: Are my children receiving from me what they really require from their father?

Something deep in your gut tells you that your kids need a lot more from you than you’re giving them, but you don’t know exactly what it is.

This very question started me on a journey exploring what a portrait of a dad should look like, and it changed my life. Here, I’m going to share what I discovered.

Consider 4 inspired portraits that reveal the unique responsibilities and roles of a faithful father.

In Fatherless America, David Blankenhorn gives some evidence to why the stakes are so high for your families, men. It says:

“Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society. It is the engine that is driving our most urgent social problems from crime, to adolescent pregnancy, to the sexual abuse of children, and to domestic violence against women. Yet, despite its scale and it’s social consequences, fatherlessness is a problem that is frequently ignored.”


The greatest predictability of whether a son or a daughter growing up in America lives in poverty is whether they have a father at home, engaged and active. If not, the chances are five times greater they’ll end up in poverty.

The father is the primary shaper of a kid’s moral values. Whether a little boy or a girl learns right from wrong, the father has the primary role.

Men, your kids need you.

Now, this isn’t academic to me. And what I know is, for a lot of you men, it’s not. I jumped into fatherhood early, with both feet, no experience. And the day I got married, I became a dad.

Later, I was able to adopt my two older boys. But I had four-year-olds from the get go. And what I realized is, I didn’t know how to be a husband, let alone a dad.

My attempt to figure it out is what led me to these portraits that reveal the roles of a faithful father, which come straight from the Scriptures and explain the responsibilities that are solely the father’s.

Let’s dive in.


1. Men, your number one role as a faithful father is to be a LEADER.

What’s a leader? A leader makes things happen.

For generations, the job of the man was seen as the provider and little else. If dads worked, earned a paycheck and put a roof over the family’s head and food on the table, we’d done our “job.”

Yes, that’s part of it. But certainly not all of it. And let me say, if that’s all you’re doing, you’re missing some of the best parts of fathering!

In the same way that you examine, lay out and execute a plan to ensure a secure business model, fathers must employ strategic thinking to the business of parenting. This looks like modeling dependence on Christ, taking initiative, setting some direction for your family, and constantly evaluating and reevaluating the plan for your home.

As you prepare to take on the role of a faithful leader, these pivotal questions will guide your steps:

  • Where are we now as a family? Where are we spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, physically?
  • Where do we need to go? What’s our clear target, our vision and values?
  • How are we going to get there? How can I model these values to my family?

God’s goal for your kids isn’t success. It’s not athletic achievements, scholarly excellence or affluence. None of those are wrong, but they aren’t the goal.

God’s only goal for your kids is for them to become like Christ.

God’s goal for your kids isn’t success, athletic achievements, scholarly excellence or affluence. Those are good, but they aren’t the goal. God’s only goal for your kids is for them to become like Christ. Click To Tweet

Find tips on determining your families’ values and vision when you listen to the Daily Discipleship Series on YouTube called Portrait of a Father.

2. As a faithful father, your role includes that of PRIEST.

A priest makes God known.

In Deuteronomy 10, Moses went up and heard from God. Then he took what was true about God and he gave it to the people, saying to the fathers, “You do that to your kids and to your grandkids.”

Next, he brought the needs of the people to God, interceding for them. What a powerful experience it is to take our kids’ needs and hurts and worries to the Father, and then watching Him work in their lives!

As the priest of the family, fathers reveal God to the people, and then he takes the needs of the people to God.

A father is the priest of the family. Like Moses, he makes God known by revealing God to the people, and then taking the needs of the people to God. Click To Tweet

Day-To-Day Priestly Roles of a Father

Here are just a few of the components of this priestly role in the family. For more details on these building blocks of a family priest, be sure to listen to my 2-session course on YouTube. Until then, consider these components:

  • Make your priority your relationship with God
  • Live a Word-centered life
  • Teach the Bible to your kids (no formal training required!)
  • Practice your faith

Find ways to weave these your priestly role into daily life, as the verse instructs:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:7

4 Inspired Portraits Revealing the Roles of a Faithful Father Click To Tweet

Talk about God’s precepts while you drive and play and eat and walk — take everyday opportunities to impress them on your children. Also, don’t neglect more formal teaching moments, too, like at bedtime or at the dinner table.

You’ve got this.

3. Fathers, you are your child’s TEACHER.

A teacher’s job is to instill beliefs, ideals, convictions, commitment, and honesty in students so that when they reach their transitional years, they can make independent choices within their peer group to say, “I’m not going that way. This is the path I’m taking. Because of what God has done in my life, not because of my parents.”


Of course, you want to pass on knowledge and develop character. Ephesians 6:4 is a classic New Testament verse. “…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Men, we’re to be the primary teachers. Of course, our partners and Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders will help us, but we bear the primary responsibility.

But he also warns us: “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children.” In other words, don’t irritate your kid. Here’s how to accomplish exasperation:

  • Be very perfectionistic, which produces anger.
  • Be harsh.
  • Be passive.
  • Or no matter what they do, find fault.

I’ve done all those. And when I do it, my kids get mad. And they don’t want to hear from me. And they don’t want to embrace my values. These exasperating habits stir up anger in our kids. He says instead, bring them up.

Used in classical Greek, “to bring up” means nourishment, both physical and mental.

Consider these 3 questions as you nurture each of your unique kids:

  • With the goal of a transformed life being formed in a nurturing, loving environment, what does my child need to know, do and be?
  • How does my child best learn? Investigate their individual personalities and teach to their strengths.
  • When and how can I teach them in this stage of life?

Get more practical tips for fulfilling your roles as faithful fathers when you listen to the Daily Discipleship Series on YouTube, Portraits of a Father.


When they were young, bedtime seemed to be the key moment of the day. As they aged, dinner time became fertile ground for teaching.

When your kids are grown, the role of a faithful father might include reading books together and making time to connect and hash over what we’re learning.

Fathers, in your role as teacher, make nourishment a driving force, creating moments to nurture them both spiritually and mentally. Beware of your behaviors that exasperate them, like perfectionism, harshness and passivity. Click To Tweet

4. Dads, give your kids a glimpse of their heavenly Father when you take on the role of LOVER.

Throughout the Scriptures we are reminded that God is an unconditional lover of our soul. As the single biggest influence in the life of your kids, it’s time to hone the skills of this role.

Two questions that soul-lovers ask:

1. How are my kids doing? How are they REALLY doing?

To illustrate this role of a father, I liken it to the difference between the kind of guy who drives his car and, no matter the awful grinding and sounds, says, “The car’s fine.”

Others occasionally lift the hood, noticing when the fluids need replenishing or something is about to break.

A loving dad doesn’t just repair the problems, but he looks under the hood for signs of difficulty on the horizon.

We need to communicate with our words and with our touch and how we live, “I’m for you.” Man, your kids are going to get enough rejection out there. They ought to sense approval and acceptance. That’s, that’s, that’s a part of love.


Gain more insight on leaving a legacy for your children and people you influence.


2. Are we connecting at a deep level?

Kids naturally pull back when they’re struggling. It’s not the time to throw up our hands and exclaim that our influence is over.

Love helps us to see their deep needs. Maybe it’s a hug or caring discussion. As a loving father, you care for them. You sacrificially, literally, give your life for them.

I’m not suggesting this is an easy task, but with the help of other men, a dependence on God, and a mindset on the long-term goal of our sacrifice, it is more than possible.

Dads, do these portraits seem daunting? They should! It’s not possible to be this kind of man without the help of our loving Father. He will give you the strength required to love your children — His children.

One last insight into my mindset as a father.

Do you ever visualize your future self? I often picture myself in my late seventies, early eighties. I think about celebrating a birthday and imagine who has joined me and what’s important to me in that moment.

I don’t get excited thinking about how impressed everyone will be with all my money or nice things. The things that’ll matter are: will any of my kids come to my birthday party? Will they even want to be there? Will their grandkids be there?

What will be my legacy? Did I have a higher focus and a higher intentionality to raising kids who walked with God? Through the struggles and failures, did I prioritize that above my work?

The reality is that when you’re in your late seventies and early eighties, you’re going to have whatever you’re investing your life in now.

Don’t try and be a perfect father, your kids already have One. Just love them, teach them, lead them and worship with them.

Get more insight and practical methods for living out the roles of a faithful father in your family when you watch my Daily Discipleship Course on YouTube.



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Portrait of a Father

Written By

Chip Ingram

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.

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