I have only been a father for 4 and a half years, so I do not think for a second that I have all the solutions to being a great dad. In fact, I have been a son much longer than I have been a father so this post is going to come more from that perspective (although I'm not saying I have that completely figured out either). With Father's Day approaching I hope that the sons who read this (or all children for that matter) will show it to their own dads and desire these attributes in them. I also hope that the dads who read this will be encouraged and challenged to be the spiritual leaders and the father's that God has called them to be.
Let me first begin by stating that I know not every son has the benefit of a godly father. Some may not have a father in their life at all. If this is the case, I want to offer some words of advice: 1) Pray for your dad – whether he is in the picture or not, pray that he would come to a saving knowledge of Christ. Pray that he would accept his responsibility to be a godly father. 2) Seek out godly counsel – for those that do not have a dad in their life, for whatever reason, I would encourage you to seek out someone who can provide counsel in your life. It could be a mentor, a pastor/youth pastor, an older friend, etc. Find someone who can help nurture your walk with Christ and can teach you to be a godly man.
I am not writing this because my dad is perfect. I know my dad has flaws. I know this because he is human. I am writing this because, without my dad, I wouldn’t be the man I am today (and I mean that in a good way). The lessons I learned from him are priceless and I hope to pass them on to my own children some day.
Also, this list is not exhaustive. These are not the only things I learned from my dad. I simply chose the ones I felt the most important to share. Just because I learned the art of grilling and how to make the perfect plate of nachos from my dad, I didn’t feel those needed to be included. I believe that these 5 things are important for any son to learn from his dad.
1. How to pray
My dad didn’t teach me the perfect words to say every time I bowed my head. It wasn’t about saying the right words. It was about the importance of communicating with God. I learned at a young age that prayer was a vital part of the Christian life. We prayed before every meal, whether it was at home or in public. My dad taught me not to be ashamed about prayer. I watched my dad pray in church but I also watched him pray at home. He would pray during our family devotions and come to my room and pray with me. While I didn’t always see it, he prayed alone and with my mom. I know that if I want to be a godly man I must live a life of prayer.
2. The importance of family
The past several years my dad has made it a priority to take our family on vacation. With all four kids now married and having families of our own, it makes it difficult for every person to participate every time but we always try. This was something my dad learned from his dad. I can remember our family and my dad’s two sisters and their families all going on vacation together. It was important to spend that time together. We still do our best to get together for major holidays. I call my parents at least once a week to talk about what’s going on in their lives and what’s going on in mine. I regularly check up on my sisters to see how their families are doing. I don’t do this out of obligation. I do this because I love them. They are important to me. Now that I am married I have a new family and they are just as important to me. I saw my dad care for his family. He loved his wife and kids and would do anything for them. He sacrificed to make sure we were provided for. He loves his parents, even taking them into his home when they needed it. I am so grateful for my family, their love and concern for me and I hope that I can continue to pass this on.
3. How to fix a car
This lesson seems to be out of place with the others as there is nothing very spiritual about fixing a car. And I know that not every guy knows how to work on cars. I am not an expert mechanic and neither is my dad. My dad did teach me some things about auto maintenance. I know how to change a tire and jump off a dead battery. I’ve even replaced water pumps and alternators. This particular lesson is more about learning basic skills from my dad. It’s about being teachable. I believe that too many young people think that they cannot learn anything from their parents. They either think their parents have nothing to teach them or that they should be learning from someone else. I will admit that there were times when I thought I knew more about certain things that my dad did. I think every teenager believes this at some point. As an adult, I am so grateful for the things my dad taught me. He taught me how to fly fish and how to skin a deer (the first one took, the second, not so much). He taught me how to use a hammer and a drill. He taught me how to care for my lawn and, as I mentioned before, how to use a charcoal grill. The important thing was not in the lessons themselves, but that I was learning from him. In fact, sometimes, it wasn’t so much about what I was learning as it was about us spending time together.
4. How to be a husband (or for you daughters, how to look for one)
This is one lesson that I am still learning how to put into practice as I have only been married for 6 years (the best 6 years of my life though!). It is one of the most important lessons I have learned from my dad. There are hundreds of different ways men can learn how to be husbands. We can learn it from books and magazines, from TV and movies, from co-workers and friends. Some of these are reputable, if you’re reading the right books and have the right friends. The place where most men are going to learn what a husband is supposed to be like is in their own home, watching how their dad treats their mom. I am extremely blessed to come from a home where I witnessed what a godly husband is supposed to look like. My dad loves my mom unconditionally. He loves her like Christ loves the church. He provides for her and prays for her and with her. He laughs with her and he cries with her. He is affectionate with her (I am grateful for that, regardless of how gross it may be to me). He compromises with her when he would rather see her happy than have his own way. He is the spiritual leader of their relationship. When I think of my own relationship with my wife, I can only hope that I can be the kind of husband that my dad has been.
5. How to love God
Of all the things I’ve learned from my dad, this is the most important. It is the most important because all the other things I’ve learned stem from this one attribute. How my dad has related to me and my sisters, to my mom and to others has been because of his relationship with God. I was able to witness first-hand what it means to have a relationship with God. My dad is a pastor, so of course I saw it in the pulpit on Sundays. More importantly, however, I saw it in our home. I learned the importance of reading my Bible. I learned the importance of loving others as Christ did. I learned the importance of sharing the gospel with the lost. My relationship with Christ is the most important thing in my life and that is something I learned from my dad.
I am extremely blessed to have such a godly father. I thank God for him and I pray for him regularly. I challenge all sons to want to learn these things from their fathers as well. It will be well worth it.
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction…indeed they are a graceful wreath to your head.” Proverbs 1:8-9
Soli deo gloria,