Many words have been spoken and ink expended about the diminished regard we collectively have for fathers. Gone are the days of the loving and wise fathers once seen on TV in the characters of Ward Cleaver and Andy Taylor, replaced by foolish if not loveable dupes like Phil Dunphy and Homer Simpson.
Whatever the critique may be of these fictional fathers, at least they are present. Unfortunately for many of you, this has not been your experience. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, among children who were part of the “post-war generation,” 87.7% grew up with two biological parents who were married to each other. Today only 68.1% go through childhood with their family intact.
The ramifications of this erosion of the nuclear family are far-reaching and often tragic. According to the National Center for Fathering, children in fatherless homes are four times more likely to be raised in poverty; 10 times more likely to abuse drugs; two times more likely to commit suicide; nine times more likely to drop out of school; and 20 times more likely to be incarcerated.
Many people use these statistics to demonize men and fathers as the problem. Certainly there are those who deserve this criticism for spurning their parental responsibilities or worse, abusing them. However, taken as a whole, I don’t believe men are the problem — they are, rather, the solution. It’s never too late to once again embrace and promote the value of a father — especially if you are one.
That begs the question: what truly is a father’s role?
You don’t need a license or a diploma to become a father, yet the job description is one of the toughest imaginable. According to Scripture, a father encourages and comforts his children, urging them to “live lives worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). He is charged with the instruction (Proverbs 1:8-9) and discipline (Hebrews 12:10) of his offspring. He is expected to provide “good gifts” for his children (Matthew 7:9-11). And in all of this, a father must not “exasperate” his children.
In the face of this enormous job, it’s easy for fathers to feel like a high school dropout interviewing for a job as a nuclear physicist. But don’t be discouraged. Scripture tells us that our heavenly Father will assist us in each of life’s heavy responsibilities: “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs” (Isaiah 58:11). You can depend on the Father of all fathers, for strength in every parenting challenge, no matter what your qualifications or deficiencies might be.
The most important thing you can give to your kids is faith in Jesus Christ. Pray with and for your kids and disciple them in faith. I often think of this as a relay race where one generation passes the baton to the next. Any track coach will tell you that races are won and lost at the point of exchange. The same is true with the Gospel. If failure is to occur, it will probably happen in the exchange between generations.
This article continues at [Christian Post] What Father’s Day Is Really All About