The following article was written by Lifeway's Thom Rainer. The father of three and the author of many books and articles related to the topic of fatherhood, I encourage you to read Thom's challenge to be a courageous dad.
The young man sat in my office and wept. I never considered that he would demonstrate such transparency and vulnerability. He seemed like a guy that had it together. I was taken aback by both his words and his emotions.
I was his pastor. I really liked the guy. We had spent time together at church and at other functions. But there was a major part of his life that I had not seen, at least until that day.
“My dad died last year,” he began. “He was a moral man in many ways, but he never told me he loved me. And I can’t remember one occasion where he told me he was proud of me. I’ve spent most of my life trying to earn my dad’s love and approval. Now that he’s gone, I have this emptiness that has a hopeless feeling. I know I’ll never please my dad.”
The Worth of a Father
Fathers shape the lives of their children in many ways, for better or worse. Indeed, I am convinced that, if fathers would invest in their children’s lives as they should, our nation and world would be an exceedingly better place. Ask school teachers which students typically do well in their classes. On most occasions, they will say that the better performing and adjusted students have parents who want to be an integral and positive part of these students’ lives.
While I’ve seen some bad fathers in my life, I have seen a number of great dads. I call these fathers “courageous dads” because they have the commitment and desire to make a difference with their children no matter what the cost.
Characteristics of Courage
Though books have been written on fatherhood, allow me to share several characteristics of courageous dads in concise form. I am grateful for the fathers who have committed their lives to their children.
· Courageous dads love their wives. The children see that dad loves mom. He says it. He shows it. He has her back. He puts her on a pedestal. He respects her. He romances her.
· Courageous dads spend quantity time with their children. They don’t fall for the lie that only the quality of the time matters. Children need time, lots of time with their fathers.
· Courageous dads provide for and protect their children. The sons and daughters of courageous dads know that he will always be there to look after them and provide their needs.
· Courageous dads show affection for their children. A great father hugs his kids and tells them that he loves them. And he does so with great frequency.
· Courageous dads have great joy in their children. They delight in them and let them and the world know what great gifts kids are.
· Courageous dads discipline their children. These fathers know that discipline with the right heart and a gentle spirit is a sign of his love for his children.
· Courageous dads pray with their children and study God’s Word with them. They model what commitment to Christ looks like.
· Courageous dads never stop being a dad. As long as we fathers have a breath to breathe, we should demonstrate sacrificial love to our children. Fatherhood never ends.
From a Dad with Great Joy
I have been a father for over 31 years. Among the greatest delights in my life are my three sons. I know that I have not been a perfect father, but I am grateful that my wife compensated often for my deficiencies.
Even more, I am thankful and overwhelmed that my sons show grace and forgiveness to me for those times when I’ve blown it as a dad. And now I have the great joy of watching them become courageous dads. And even now, I can tell that they will far exceed me as a dad in every way.
I pray that they will always be courageous dads. I pray that they will have the God-given strength to go against the grain of cultural norms and be the father God has called them to be.
May we see millions of courageous dads rise and change the nation and the world. And may we never forget the final words of the Old Testament as words of blessing or curse for our world today.
“And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, HCSB).