As each year passes, it seems I recognize more and more, and with ever-increasing gratitude, how much my father has poured into me. Under the guidance of the Eternal Father, my father set out as a master builder to set me up (and my brother as well) for success in every area of life.
I have been empowered with skills, training and guidance that have impacted my walk with the Lord, my work ethic, the way I manage money, the way I relate to people, the way I deal with conflict, the way I show love to my wife, the way I manage stress, disappointments, failures and achievements. The impact my father has had on my life spans every area of my existence; this is a profound and extremely challenging truth.
The power of the father in the life of his children cannot be overstated. Fathers seem to have the potential to endow their children with great strength or great woundedness; great stability or great dysfunctionality, great courage or great fear. Research from the Heritage Institute has shown correlations between fatherlessness and violent crime, and almost every societal ill.
Fatherless children are 20 times more likely to end up in prison, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 9 times more likely to drop out of school, ten times more likely to do drugs and twice as likely to have children as teenagers. Fathers make a huge difference!
The Context of the Father
Many times when trying to encourage fathers to be all they can be, persons get stuck in stating a list of things that they need to do. While there is a place for that, I think developing the heart of the father is even more fundamental. But first, fathering must be understood in the context of creation and of the family.
There is great need for guidance concerning family creation and fatherhood. In the Word I see a beautiful blueprint and a divine ordering of events. Now there are many types of families, the single parent family, the blended family, the extended family, but we will focus on the family unit that was first deliberately created, the nuclear family. The nuclear family is the basic unit of the society, expertly crafted by the Heavenly Father, first presented to us in Genesis chapter 4 verse 1.
It is therefore holy, meaning God’s original and undiluted intention and design, untainted by sin. Fatherhood is therefore a holy mission! Prior to the arrival of Cain and Abel, Genesis chapter 2 verse 24-26 demonstrate the very first marriage ceremony. Marriage is the nucleus of the family. The father is expected to first be a husband then a father.
Earlier in the same chapter we note that Adam was walking with the Lord in service to his Father, tending the Garden of Eden before Eve came on the scene. It seems to me to be of divine intent that the man is walking with the Lord and serving his Heavenly Father prior to even meeting his wife, and that he is married prior to having children. Herein lies my thinking concerning fatherhood, three keys my father employed, flooding this biblical route with love and commitment.
Love the Lord
The first biblical step to developing the heart of the father is loving the Lord. My father met my mother in the context of loving and serving the Lord, indeed that was what drew him to her. Psalm chapter 138 verses 3 -4 says “Your wife shall be a fruitful vine within the innermost parts of your house. Your children shall be like olive plants around your table. Behold for so shall the man be blessed and divinelyfavoured who fears the Lord and worships Him with obedience”
A divine blessing is in store for men who love, fear and obey the Lord. Within a year of marrying my mother, my father answered the call to leave his job and go into full time Christian ministry. That passionate love for and obedience to God, and his continued service to the Lord has left for me a legacy of passionate love for and obedience to God and has blessed us in more ways than we know.
Love your wife well
In April, my team and I presented in Parliament in defense of, without me asking, my father turned up to support me and invited me to share a meal with him afterwards. I told him how much it meant to me that he showed up to support me, without me even asking. In awe, I said “Daddy, when I become a father, I want to be just like you”. His response, would encompass one of the most central and simultaneously overlooked truths of fathering; he said “Love your wife well”.
Ephesians chapter 5 verse 25 challenges husbands to love their wives and give themselves sacrificially for them. This modelling of love is hugely beneficial to children who are taking unconscious notes of everything they see and hear. Pouring into, blessing, complementing openly and being faithful to your wife increases the emotional and spiritual stability in the life of the child. If divorce is like a nuclear bomb, infidelity is like a loaded gun shooting your wife, family and children, extending down your family line.
Love your children
Loving our children looks like a few “P” words:
1. Present – just by being there you convey strength!
2. Protect – spiritually, physically, financially
3. Praise – praise them openly and discipline privately
4. Prophecy – declare over them what you hear God calling them to be, my father declared over me for years every morning “Mighty Man of Valor, Arise”.
5. Push – Encourage them to pursue all that the Lord has for them!
6. Priest – lead the family to the Lord and teach them how to love the Lord
Oh Lord, give us the heart of the Father!
Dr. Daniel Thomas is a medical doctor and Christian Advocate who loves the Lord deeply. He currently leads a youth organization called the Love March Movement which is committed to empowering the youth to fight for sexual purity and the family in Jamaica.