Where Are the Fathers?
I recently received a lifestyle magazine in the mail. The feature articles carried the theme of mothers since in May we were celebrating Mother’s Day. There was significant coverage on mothers and how wonderful they are. Now, I can’t wait to see how fathers will be covered in their June issue for Father’s Day!
Do you sense that there is usually more excitement and pardon me, hype over Mother’s Day if compared to Father’s Day? A mother’s role is easily recognised and honoured. In many cases, she is the pillar of strength at home, the one whom a child goes to for 1,001 needs. And in a single parent’s home, she is both the mother and the father.
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In many traditional Asian families, the father is a distant figure. While a mother may exude warmth, the father is to be feared.
But what does the Bible have to say about fatherhood? Plenty. God is described as the heavenly Father. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven”. In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father is depicted as a loving and forgiving man who welcomed and accepted his wayward son with no hesitation. He threw a party to celebrate the return of his son.
While many fathers are the model of godly fatherhood, many of us struggle to find the biblical model to help us in this journey of being a father. We could do with some help along the way. Let us redeem the role of a father. Most spouses would gladly partner with their husbands as they assume the role of headship for the family. Here are four suggestions:
1. Accept the responsibility of spiritual headship for the family
Don’t abdicate the role of being a father. Be there for your child, spend time and listen to each of them. Show interest in what they are doing. Each child has different giftings, interests and strengths. Meet them at their level, not merely with your own high expectations. My wife keeps reminding me, “Don’t win the world but lose your child”. Bring them to church service when Covid-19 is over and done with. Explain why the Church and Christian community is essential for one’s spiritual formation.
2. Be a father figure at home and for others
While I did not have a significant father figure at home, I have had the privilege of godly examples with the Navigators ministry at University. After that, there were several godly and fatherly models that I observed and learned from in church. These became for me a front seat view of how a Christian man should relate in his family, workplace and church. A man needs encouragement from other men to spur each other to fulfill God’s plan and purposes for him.
3. Call upon the Lord in prayer
Recognise that to be a father is a challenging task. We need the power of the Lord Jesus Christ as we grow in our relationship as His followers. In particular, as we read the Gospels, we learn from Christ through his work and words. We need to pray for our family – not just for safety, protection and provision in material ways – but that each child will give his/her heart to know, love and serve Jesus. Take the lead during meal times to pray a prayer of blessing for your family, wife and children, as in Numbers 6:24-26 or a prayer for spiritual wisdom and revelation as in Ephesians 1:16-19.
4. Take the lead in decision making
Learn to make decisions in the family, in consultation with your wife. Don’t abdicate that to her. It can be tiring and seemingly mundane in comparison with the decisions you made at the workplace. But that is the training ground for you to learn to provide godly leadership at home. The ultimate goal is so that they will grow in maturity, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
Happy Father’s Day!
About the Author
Tan Meng Poo is Senior Vice President, Operations Asia Pacific for Our Daily Bread Ministries. He is an ordained minister with the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia.
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