I’m sure that most men will agree that it’s not always easy to be a good dad. Though we know what’s needed, it’s sometimes very hard to achieve it. For me personally, I want to laugh more, relax more, show more affection – yet sometimes it feels like there is a wall around me that’s hard to break through. I’m not sure what the wall is or why it’s there. I just know that I often struggle. Yet I have been very fortunate in life because I have had a wife and two daughters who have always helped me. They have shown me their unconditional love and respect and I’m a better dad because of them.
Tammy was the first to help me in this journey. We have always given cards or gifts to each other on Mother and Father’s Day in order to show our appreciation and affirmation of each other. I remember one particular gift Tammy gave me many years ago. It was the first book I ever read on the family and it was entitled, ‘Always Daddy’s Girl’, by Norman Wright. It was an eye-opener for me. Prior to reading that book, I thought that as a dad, I had little or no influence upon my daughters. I thought that it was a mother / daughter thing and I didn’t really know where to fit in. Yet as I read that book, it revealed to me that much of how my daughters would later come to perceive themselves as women, would be determined by how I treated them as their dad. I learned that even while they were little, I was helping to shape their future relationships with their future mates. I learned that by loving my daughters and striving to be involved in their lives, I was actually helping to protect them from those who might want to harm them. I learned that I was helping them to become confident and secure in who there were.
One of the greatest blessings I have had in life came a few months ago when I read this just before Cindy’s wedding. Note – she wrote this almost seven years before she got married.
Characteristics of My Future Mate – August 14, 2003
- Jesus is number one in his life – not just an ornament. Mark 12:30
- Man of Prayer: Knows that the key to life is private time with God. Col. 4:2
- His relationship with Christ is displayed in those people he chooses as friends. Ps1
- Apologizes. I don’t expect perfection.
- Humble enough to be taught and able to teach others. Matt. 28:19-20
- Ministry minded: where ever he is he’s available. I Cor. 4:2
- Sensitive Spirit: in tune with other’s needs. Gal. 6:2
- Not afraid to lead
- An encourager
- Challenges me spiritually. Stronger than I am. Challenges me to dig deeper. Rom. 1:12
- Musically talented or enjoys listening to it
- Family man: Good with kids and treats his own family with respect.
- Follows through on God-given responsibilities. I Cor. 4:2
- Gets along with my family
- Likes my style of music and has convictions about what is God honoring
- Is approved by my closest friends
- Asks my dad for permission
- Willing to watch “Anne” movies with me- willing to put aside his preferences every once in a while
- Has goals and standards of his own and lives by them
Guys, I won’t pretend that I have met those standards, but I helped to form those standards.
It’s an unfortunate how Satan has deceived so many of us in recent years to believe that we can minimize and perhaps even do away with the role of a man in the family. The Bible teaches us that God places great value upon men in society, in the church, and in the family. One of the greatest reinforcements of this truth is the fact that throughout scripture, God often refers to Himself as a ‘Father.’ Yes, there are portions of scripture where God compares some of His attributes and characteristics to those of a loving mother, yet when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He told them to begin each prayer with – “Our Father.” This morning as I was praying, I thanked God that He was willing to be my Father.
As I studied scripture this week I discovered 3 important comparisons between an earthly father and the heavenly Father.
I. In His Compassion Towards His Children
Psalms 103:13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
The word ‘pity’ simply means to be compassionate towards those in need. The Psalmist said – ‘Fathers are to be compassionate towards their children.’ Sometimes we as men have the image of being hard or insensitive to the needs of our family, yet I am encouraged to read that God uses us as an example of someone showing compassion.
As I read this verse I can’t help but think of another father in the Bible. He had two sons and one day the youngest came to his father and demanded his portion of the inheritance. That was a heartless and disrespectful thing for the young man to do, yet the father graciously gave it to him and shortly afterward the young man left home. Through a lot of reckless living the young man wasted everything his father had given him and eventually he found himself with nothing and no one to help. What would he do? What could he do?
The Bible says –
Luke 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father.
The son expected his father to give him the cold shoulder. Why should his father still care about him? But notice what happened.
Luke 15:20 But when he was yet a great way off , his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
The compassion of this father is amazing! What’s even more amazing is what this story is all about. We’re the prodigal sons and daughters and it is God the Father who is ready to receive us when we come back to Him.
The greatest example of a father showing compassion is God the Father and His compassion towards us.
Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
Dads, we have been fed a lie that real men should be cold and calloused. That is not what the Bible teaches, nor is that what our families need. Our families need earthly fathers who are like the heavenly Father and who will reach out and show compassion towards our families. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.”
II. In His Correction of His Children
I’m sure that there were very few Father’s Day cards sold this year that said, “Dad, Thank you for always being there to discipline me.” Yet we see once again from scripture that this is one of the ways God compares Himself to us an earthly fathers.
Hebrews 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: [i.e. – our earthly fathers disciplined us and we respected them for it] shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they [earthly fathers] verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; [as they thought best] but he for our profit, [for our good] that we might be partakers of his holiness.
The horror stories of children being harshly disciplined has caused many in today’s world to determine that any form of correction is evil. The result is that we have a society full of children who are out of control. There is no one willing to step up to the plate and help establish proper boundaries for them. Yet these boundaries are so important. We learn from the Bible – Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Now there is a right way and a wrong way to discipline a child. Paul writes-
Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Harsh, abusive, unloving discipline is wrong and it is harmful. Scripture says that it can cause a child to become discouraged and angry. Yet proper discipline from the hand of a loving father can help a child to learn the ways of wisdom.
There’s one last way that God compares Himself to an earthly Father that I would like for us to look at.
III. In His Coaching Of Us
Amy began playing volleyball when she was in the 5th grade. One day she and I were talking and we concluded that from the 5th grade to the 12th grade, I think that I missed only one or two of her games. And I’m sure that some of her coaches dreaded seeing me come. It seems like I always started out in the stands but ended up on the side lines, cheering her on.
I’m sure that many of us have never considered God to be a coach, yet consider this important portion of scripture.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
In this passage, Paul and his companions are the ones comparing themselves to earthly fathers, yet we know that Paul and his companions were doing the work of God. You might think it strange that I call them a coach, but I believe that word best describes how they were involved in the lives of God’s children.
Look again at vs. 11-12,
11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
The word ‘exhorted’ means to come alongside of someone in order to encourage them. Someone has said that it means to ‘urge on the hesitant.’ Good coaches do that. Can’t you hear them saying from the sidelines – ‘You can do it. Run! Swing! Kick! Hit it!’ Paul often used sports analogies to describe the Christian life. He refers to us as runners, as boxers, as those competing in an arena. And throughout his epistles he keeps calling out – ‘Run! Keep going! Score!’
Not every child is going to play sports, but every child needs a dad who is running along the sidelines of their life and cheering them on, especially when it comes to knowing Christ and living for Him. One of the primary reasons I have such a great relationship with my girls is because I have been on the side-lines cheering them on. Tammy and I have tried to help them dream and to encourage them to excel. ‘Run! Keep going! Score!’
Some of you haven’t had a father figure in your life that has helped to cheer you on. But if you know Jesus as your Savior, you do. God the Father and all the host of heaven is cheering you on.
Psalms 68:5 ‘A father of the fatherless…’
We honor our dads today. Guys, we’re so proud of you and we want you to know that we need you. We also know that you need our prayers. Moms, children, pray for husbands and fathers.