Paul Claudel, a French poet said. “Does a child ever grow up sufficiently to be able to do without his father? Can a father ever grow so old that he has no need of children?” Claudel is right in realising this unbreakable bond between a father and his child. And in our day and age, appreciating this rich relationship is an important first step in reclaiming biblical fatherhood.
It is disheartening to see how society in general has diluted the importance of parenting and with it fatherhood. Parenting today is largely understood as a mother’s role and the main contribution of a father in the family is exclusively seen in terms of being a financial provider, a breadwinner. However, a cursory look at the Bible shows otherwise. A man is defined by the quality of his communal involvement, spirituality and fatherhood, not solely just financial or career achievements. There is an urgent need then for Christian men today to aspire to reclaim a biblical perspective of fatherhood. While there can be much to say about biblical fatherhood, I will hereby only surface two broad applications.
A Father Represents God to the Family
An important role of biblical fatherhood is in exampling Christlikeness, not only in words but also in way of life. “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deut 11:19). Spiritual growth of children is not given to the responsibility of Sunday School teachers. Parents have a clear command to represent God to the family. It is not only in what you teach about God, but also in how you live what you teach in the realities of daily living (sitting, walking, lying down, rising up). Do we as fathers have enough conversations with our children so that they hear about our beliefs and values, our priorities in life and how God is faithful in our struggles? Do we as fathers spend enough time with our children so that they can see how we love the people around us and how we react to difficulties and challenges?
A Father Represents the Family to God
Another important role of biblical fatherhood is in lifting up the family to God on their behalf. This can be done through prayer and intercession. At the opening of the book of Job, we see that Job would have regular meals with his children and after that “…he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.” (Job 1:5). Are we as fathers committing ourselves to praying regularly for our children? Not only for their personal welfare, but also praying on their behalf for their spiritual growth and relationship with God. Fathers, let us commit to praying for our children today, through good times and bad.
When we as fathers begin to reclaim the biblical perspective of fatherhood, our giving of advice, leadership and discipline to our children carries more weight. Because our children will learn that these are done out of our love for them and our love for God. And they will also be assured that we are constantly journeying with them, covering them in our prayers. Let the celebration of father’s day remind us of this calling that we have.
Blessed father’s day!
Brother Samuel Lim