father and adopted children

I was talking with a friend the other day just after he heard a message preached on Mother’s day, thanking mothers for all they do for families and God.  He quipped: “Now in a couple weeks on Fathers’ Day, we get to hear the message of how men need to step up..”  His concern was that we hear mothers exalted while fathers get chastised for our shortcomings.

I understand his concern and agree that is the usual line-up in many messages—mothers are exalted and honored—fathers are challenged.  So why is that?  Is it fair that men seem to get the brunt of being challenged?  Let’s explore the reasons:

As fathers we are the biblical leaders of our families.  We are to set the spiritual and moral tone for our families.  We are to show our sons what a godly man looks like and how women are to be respected and cherished.  And we are to show our daughters what a godly man looks like—and encourage her to seek these same traits when dating or considering marriage in the future.

As husbands we are to cherish our wives.  Our love for her should be second only to our love of God.  We are called to protect her, serve her, provide for her, and be an example of Jesus Christ to her.  As scripture tells us, we need to be prepared to give our life for her, as Jesus did for His church.

And perhaps the greatest responsibility we have as fathers and husbands is to lead our families closer to God by our example and behavior.  When our wife or children look at us, do they see an example of Jesus?  Or do they see a man more interested in things of this world—work, sports or television?  Do they see us leading the family in prayer and study of God’s Word?  Or do they see a man focused on his own desires and pursuits?

Do they see a husband or father who is firmly committed to God no matter what circumstances come up?  Or do they see a man who doubts God and trusts more in his own wisdom and skills?  A man who will do the right thing no matter what?  Or a man who will lie, cheat or steal to get ahead?

Whether it seems fair or not, we men carry a heavy burden as leaders of our families.  Our wives look to us to lead and love as Jesus did.  We are temporary earthly husbands, preparing our wives for their part in the eternal marriage between Jesus and His bride, the church.

And much of what our children grow to believe about God will come from the example we set as earthly fathers.  If they see us as mean, impatient and harsh, the chances are they will grow up initially believing God has those same characteristics.  If we are harsh taskmasters, demanding perfection of our children, there is a good chance they will grow up seeing God the same way—a harsh, uncaring God who demands much, but gives little.

If what I have just described sounds like an impossibly high threshold to achieve, it is–if we try to do it on our own.  But as husbands and fathers, if we truly dedicate ourselves to God and His Word, making Him the first love of our lives, God will ordain and empower us as true leaders.

When we truly understand God’s priorities about who we love—first God, then our wives, then our children, and then ourselves—we can become the fathers and husbands our families need.  And at a time when our children are being raised in a narcissistic world that is telling them it is all about them and their happiness, the important role of fathers has never been more crucial.  As men, we are the leaders.  And if we do not step up and lead our families and churches the way God wants us to lead, we are leading them down a very dangerous path—a path that could lead to eternal destruction.

Men, its time we become Men of God—nothing else will do.