A preacher friend and I have lunch together every week when we are both in town. We always talk about family, sports, and our work. We talk about recent activities that we’ve been involved with in our ministry. During a recent visit he was telling me about being called by a local funeral home to preach a funeral for a homeless man. This particular man had one son who met with my friend about the funeral. My friend asked the son if he could tell him some things about his dad. The man replied by saying, “Sir, I am sorry to say that I didn’t know my dad.” He continued to tell him that he had not been involved with his dad’s life in many years. How tragic in our day that there are fathers and sons who do not know one another.
After attempting to help families for more than thirty years, it is my belief that the most important relationship in a young boys life is his relationship with his father. I am thankful that as a young boy that my father was involved in my life. I am thankful that I had a son in whose life I was deeply involved when he was a young boy. It is not coincidental that God’s Word speaks about the relationship between fathers and sons. When God’s people were about to move into the Promised Land God gave the following instructions. “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God...These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons...” (Deuteronomy 6:1-7) The Holy Spirit told the Apostle Paul to remind Christian fathers of the importance of their relationship with sons. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
These passages along with others make it clear that God expects fathers to be the spiritual leaders in the home. Fathers should be their sons (and their daughters) heroes, mentors, teachers, and spiritual guides. In our day we have more good information available to help families than at any other time in the history of the world. Go into any Christian bookstore and you will find an entire section of books and periodicals written specifically to help families. There are seminars and classes designed to strengthen families. Churches are more aware of the need to encourage families than ever before. I receive calls regularly from churches requesting special lessons to encourage families. Many churches have a “Family Minister” to help families. With all of this information and help how are we to explain the fact that families seem to struggle more today than ever?
Some would suggest that is because of the materialistic society in which we live. Others might say it is because of the media saturated society of our day. Some would blame it on the high divorce rate around the world. Still others would say it is the wrong kind of influences in the lives of our children. Some would blame the church for it’s failure to teach the old truths of the Gospel. While all of these may be factors in the demise of the family (and I am certain that other factors could be mentioned), is it not possible that another key to the family struggles is the failure of fathers to understand the role God has designed for them? There are too many homes without fathers present, and even in some homes where fathers are present they have abdicated their God-given responsibilities.
I would like to encourage every father who reads this article to seriously consider renewing your commitment to your family. We must remember that we will someday stand before God and at least part of what we will give an account for is the spiritual leadership we provided or failed to provide for our families. Many fathers I know work hard to provide physically and materially for their families. They make sure that their children are well educated and well trained. Yet they sometime forget the spiritual help that their families so desperately need. I know it is not easy. In our day it is difficult to buck the trend and go against the crowd. It is during those years when our sons are young that they need us the most. These are the years that their values and much of their direction for life will be formed.
Fathers often get a bad rap from the television programs as well as other forms of media. Fathers need to network with other men who are spiritually astute. Fathers should see the advice of older men who have already raised their children. Godly men can help because of the successes and failures they have experienced in their lives. There are many things our children will know when they leave our homes. They will be most blessed if they know their dad. They should know a dad who loved his Lord, who loved his wife, and who loved his children.
Dear God, we pray for families around our world who are struggling. We pray for fathers who You have commissioned to lead the family. Our prayer is that fathers will be strong, that they will be committed to Your plan, that they will see advice from others. Dear Father, we pray that you will strengthen and empower men to be the kind of Spiritual leaders You want them to be. Thank You God, for Christian men who are doing their very best to lead their families according to Your Word. When our dad’s depart from this life, help us to be able to say that we knew them well.