Biologically, a male generally finds it easy to father a child but to be a good father is a completely different matter. The impact that a father has on his child is profound and lasting, for good or bad. As you think on your own experience from your father, or of being a father, some will be smiling but others will be sorrowing. For most reading this, fathers will have completed their jobs but others may still be in process or observing someone else who is. Even if someone may not have been the best father they could have been they can aim to be better than they have been. Fathering does not come with a training course or certificate to validate expertise but both the mother and the child give a good indication as to success or failure in the matter.
- ‘Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and that's why I call you dad, because you are so special to me. You taught me the game and you taught me how to play it right’ - Wade Boggs
- ‘God attaches no strings to His love. None. His love for us does not depend on our loveliness. It goes one way. As far as our sin may extend, the grace of our Father extends further’ - Tullian Tchividjian
- ‘There is something gratuitous about creation, an unnecessary abundance of beauty, and through its blossoms and pleasures we can revel in the sheer largesse of the Father’ - Michael Reeves
- ‘There are different kinds of fathers. Those who love unconditionally, those who love on condition, and those who never love at all’ - Tricia Levenseller
One of the saddest things in life must be when your own child dies young, but even worse than that when they choose to take their own life. Maybe something somewhere went wrong either in the parent-child relationship or in another area of life that they were unable to pull through. Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Gregory Peck and Willie Nelson are just some of those who suffered this unbearable loss. Others such as Jane Fonda and Michael McIntyre bore tragedy the other way as they lost their dads to suicide which also leaves a huge impact. The public breakdown of relationship between Britney Spears and her dad Jamie is well known with the courts becoming involved in freeing Britney from her father’s control. Meghan Markle’s fallout with her dad Thomas has been exploited by the media and makes you wonder if there are any limits to the causes of such rifts. The father-child relationship has such potential but it so often falls short and is sometimes lost.
By contrast, Jesus gives the perfect model of a father-son relationship. In fact, the deepest insights about Jesus’ purpose and mission given to us come from his relationship with his Father, especially seen in John’s Gospel. Jesus teaches his disciples that God can be called not only father, but even more intimately, he can be related to as ‘Abba’ equivalent to ‘Dear Father’ or perhaps ‘Dad’. Either way, it is a term of endearment indicating open access, love, trust and friendship. Some who are young in faith can get the impression of God being a distant and formal figure when reading the Old Testament, a Creator who is beyond reach. Perhaps the relationship between Abraham and Isaac conveys something of this. However, Jesus leaves us in little doubt about the intimacy he opens for believers to have with God as Father when we read the New Testament.
- ‘Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ - Luke 11:11-13
- ‘Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all’ - Hebrews 12:7
- ‘For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’ - Romans 8:14-16
Jesus is God’s own son who is ‘the firstborn among many brothers and sisters’ (Romans 8:29) and is ‘bringing many sons and daughters to glory’ (Hebrews 2:10). In Gethsemane, Jesus calls out to his Father: ‘Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one … I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them (John 17:11,26). Here then is the mission of Jesus in a nutshell, that we may be one with God the Creator and call him Father. We are to bring our problems to him, to be certain of his unconditional love and forgiveness. There is no problem too big, for God our Father is the source of all hope, truth, light and goodness. He wants our best, gives us only good gifts and even when he disciplines us, it is part of his love and for our good.
To be a good father, look at God for inspiration and ask for his help to do better tomorrow than you’ve done today or yesterday. Paul encourages men to aspire to be good fathers, recognising that just as today, there is a shortage of them. If your biological father is living, encourage him. If he is not, think kindly of him and encourage someone else in their fathering role for it is a tough one to do well. Perhaps you can reflect something of God your father to others around you and in so doing bring glory to God and blessings to others whose own fathers may not always have done well.
- ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ - Luke 6:38
- ‘Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel’ - 1 Corinthians 4:15
- ‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord’ - Ephesians 6:4
Whilst this Booster applies to men in the first instance as fathers, it is also relevant for women in the complementary role of mothers. These children are the product of both parents biologically, in their character formation and through the loving care they received. The father heart of God is shown tenderly in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) where kindness, love, mercy and affirmation is displayed. As we have received this, why not ask ‘our father who art in heaven’ for grace to overflow in these life-building virtues to those around you?
TAGS - faithfulness, loving, genuine, reassurance, stability