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What are Christian Fathers Like?

Fatherhood is a topic that I am always interested to learn more about. My parents separated when I was 11, and I was raised by my mother. Nevertheless, my father had a huge impact on my life, my values, and the way I think. This is why I am keen to learn more about how to become a good father to my children, and of course the best source of wisdom will be from the Word of God itself.

What does the Bible say about fatherhood? What are the responsibilities of Christian fathers? This is what I found:

1. Provide and protect our family

It is written in 1 Timothy 5:8 that anyone who does not provide for their family is worse than unbelievers. It shows that family is really important to God, and as Christian fathers, it is our responsibility to work and provide for our family. But this does not mean we should prioritise work or career over our family, because it will be pointless to love money or work more than our family (Psalm 127:2). Yes, we need to work hard (Ecclesiastes 9:10), but we must know our limit in work (Proverbs 23:4). On top of monetary support, we need to be a good source of emotional support to our family as well and make ourselves available to spend time with them.

Recently someone from a Parent Support Group shared why he volunteered to work as Executive Committee in his kids’ primary school. His reason is very simple: “This is the best way to get involved with our children while they still listen to us, and to listen to them while they still want to share with us. Don’t expect our kids to be close to us in their teenage [years] when we don’t even spend enough time with them prior to that.” This inspired me to spend more quality time with my children as well.

2. Discipline and teach them

On top of spending quality time with our children, it is also important for us to teach them the way of our Lord (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4). As our children grow up, they will be exposed to both the good and the bad. It is therefore very important for us to remind them of the right way relentlessly, to differentiate between good and evil, even if we are sometimes required to punish them (Proverbs 13:24). Discipline is not always easy – as the Chinese saying goes: “Hitting the children hurts the parents more." But if it is necessary to discipline our children, then this is what we should do.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart” (Proverbs 29:17 ESV)

3. Pray for your family

As fathers, we can only do so much to guide our children. At the end of the day they need to learn how to face their own problems when they arise. Are they going to keep trying when things don’t work their way? Or are they going to give up easily? One of the best ways we can teach our children to be resilient is to anchor their life to God. There is no problem too big for God (Genesis 18:14), and prayers build faith and relationship with our Lord. When we always include our children in our prayers, they will feel cared for and secure – this gives them confidence to face their daily challenges.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

4. Be a good example to our children

The best way to lead is to lead by example. Kids do not always do what you say, but they will do what they see! If you want your family to be active in church activities, then you should first be actively involved in church activities. Don’t just tell them what to do, but show them how it’s done (Titus 2:7).

One of the best examples we can find in the Bible about fathers is God the Father Himself. He always shows love, compassion and patience to all of us (Luke 15:11-32). So as Christian fathers, we need to strive to do the same. Our children may not always follow our teachings and advice, but we should never give up on them just like how our Lord is patient towards us (2 Peter 3:9).

The Bible is clear that the role of a father is an extremely important one. Fathers are responsible for disciplining, providing for, loving and protecting their wives and children, as well as providing them with instruction and spiritual guidance. Fathers have an enormous level of responsibility towards their families, and the Bible sets high expectations and standards for fathers. The role may be very challenging, but it is definitely an enjoyable journey.


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