Child pilot aviator with airplane walking in summer in nature at sunset with father.A close friend of mine is in his 70s and he is still dealing with the wounds his father inflicted on him. Ironically, his father was a pastor and presented himself as a godly man. However, he was controlling, harsh, demanding, rigid, legalistic, and abusive in his discipline. My friend’s dad failed to recognize the love, grace, and mercy of our heavenly Father, but presented God to his children in the same way he treated them. As a result, my friend has struggled his whole life with his view of God as Father.

Before becoming a dad, I doubt that many of us took a course in fatherhood. As the father of two sons, I know how difficult it is being a dad. And if our own dad wasn’t the best role model, it makes our job even harder.

Perhaps you grew up in a household in which your dad was either absent or a poor role model. That doesn’t excuse us from perpetuating his poor example of fatherhood.

No dad is perfect. Perfection is not in our wheelhouse. But we can imitate our heavenly Father. And when we do blow it with our children, we must humbly tell them so and ask their forgiveness. Doing this communicates that as fathers, we are as needy for God’s grace and love as our children are. It’s so much easier for a child to respond to such humble, godly behavior.

Ephesians urges us, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) That’s a short verse with a whole lot of life behind it. We guard against exasperating our children by listening more, being patient, setting reasonable, age-appropriate guidelines, and disciplining fairly. We bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord primarily by modeling true Christlikeness. In all walks of life, we demonstrate for them what it means to follow, please, and glorify Jesus.

Perhaps you’re dealing with a wayward or rebellious child, it’s never too late to model Christlikeness for them. If your child is rebelling, know that you are not alone. And regardless of your track record as a dad, your child is ultimately accountable for their own actions. Pray for your children and seek wise, Christian counsel in raising them. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV) That is not an ironclad promise but a sound principle to follow.

Being a father is one of the greatest joys in life, but we must treat fatherhood as a precious privilege and responsibility.

Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

Personal Application

  • What was (is) your dad like? To what extent did he model Christlikeness for you?

  • How well do you model Christlikeness to your children?

  • Who do you know you could go to for wise counsel?

Jim Grassi image and signature  Jim Grassi, D. Min.

We cherish any verse in Scripture that reminds us to keep focused and intentional about evangelism and discipleship. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5