The Importance of Fathers

Yesterday was Father’s Day in the United States.  I was privileged to preach a Father’s Day message at my church here in the Atlanta, GA area.  As I prepared the message, I realized the important role that God expects fathers to play in raising their children.  There is no doubt about it, when God designed the family, he determined that men were to be the home’s leaders and that they were to perform a very important function.

Most of us have read these words from Deuteronomy.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.   You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NKJV)

God has a plan for the home that we must understand and strive diligently to follow.  Pastor Brian Haynes in his book, The Legacy Path, makes this point.

Passing on a legacy of biblical faith to the next generation has always been a part of God’s plan.

Passing on a legacy of biblical faith requires fathers to lead the way.  When God chose to make Israel His people, He emphasized that fathers would be the nation’s foundation.

As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.  Genesis 17:4-5 (NKJV)

God chose Abraham to be the father of a great nation.  Again, I quote Haynes who wrote,

In His sovereignty God constructs the foundation of biblical faith in the heart of a righteous man. Abraham becomes a father who is a conduit for God’s spiritual formation plan for generations…In a sense – no father, no legacy of faith.

One finds God emphasizing the important role that fathers are to play throughout the Bible.  Consider these examples.

He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments; and may not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not [c]set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.  Psalm 78:5-8 (NKJV)

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4  (NKJV)

The prophet Jeremiah records how God was sending judgement because an entire generation of His people had turned to worshiping Baal.  In this passage, God stresses how fathers led to this devastating condition.

Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them  Jeremiah 9:13-14 (NKJV)

One of the key principles behind kingdom education is the truth that the education of children and youth is the primary responsibility of parents.  Even though this applies to both fathers and mothers, these passages, and others, make it clear that fathers are supposed to be the leaders in educating their children biblically.  Irwin Lutzer in his book, The Church in Babylon, explains that fathers were key if Israel was to survive captivity.

…fathers were charged with teaching children the Word of God. And God knew that with strong fathers, grounded in the Word of God, these families could survive paganism…parents (particularly the father) are held accountable by God for the education of their children.

Today, God’s design for the family is under heavy attack.  One of the enemy’s strategic initiatives is to remove fathers as the leaders in their homes.  This effort is not new.  At first, people who held to the conviction that husbands/fathers were to be the leaders in their homes were accused of being chauvinistic. This term meant that they had a superiority attitude toward women.

Now, if one holds to this biblical design for the home, he is called a misogynist. This term is even stronger and describes a person as one who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.  Much of this hostility has been caused by fathers who have misunderstood and abused their leadership roles in their homes.

We must go back to the beginning to understand God’s design for the family and how a father is to lead it.  We need to look at Genesis 2 to fully understand God’s design for the family.

  • In Genesis 2:7, we find that God created man (Adam) in His image .
  • Verses 8-17 explains how God placed Adam in a garden and God gave him specific instructions about the trees in the garden.

Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.  Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV)

  • Then God says that it is not good for man to be alone.  So, He took one of Adam’s ribs and created woman.
  • In verses 23 &24, God ordains the marriage relationship to be between a man and a woman.

This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.  Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be[k] joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  Genesis 2;23-24 (NKJV)

Every thing is very good until we come to Genesis 3.  Here we find the account of the Fall.  Consider these highlights to what happened that dreadful day in the garden.  It is here we can understand how God sees fathers in His plan.

  • 3:1 The serpent said to the woman
  • 3:4 The serpent said to the woman
  • 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good…she took from its fruit and ate
  • 3:6 She gave to her husband

Then God comes walking through the garden.  I find what happened at this point to be very unexpected.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”  So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”  Genesis 3:9-11 (NKJV)

The woman was the one who was tempted and deceived by the serpent.  Yet, God did not ask these questions of her but of Adam.  Husbands/fathers need to understand how God looks at their roles as leaders in the home.

God has given men the position of leadership in the home.  It is not a position of superiority, privilege, rank or importance.  It is a position of responsibility and accountability.

Go back and re-read Psalm 78:5-8 and Ephesians 6:4 remembering that a father’s position in the home is one of responsibility and accountability.  This will lead to humility and a realization that fathers need God’s strength and wisdom to fulfill their God-given assignment.

There is a need for fathers to be the leaders in their homes.  In closing, consider Haynes’ words.

Our kids need to SEE what it looks like to follow Christ more than they need to HEAR what it is like…How does your life describe Christianity to your children?

Glen Schultz

Author Glen Schultz

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  • Les Honson says:

    Thank you Dr. Shultz for your message yesterday at church
    It was a blessing. As a missionary kid, 55 years old, been a Christian since 8, father a semi retired pastor / missionary, you’d think I would have this all under control and done well in leaving a good spiritual legacy to my children. I feel like I have done the opposite. I will not get into the specifics but I always keep pressing on and learning. Thank you again for the words of wisdom yesterday.