Features

Are fathers important?

father and son

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

The Bible seems to put great emphasis not only on the importance of parenting but also specifically on the role of the father. To the secular world that sounds hopelessly out-dated and even offensive. In many countries changes in culture and in the legal system are making the role of a father in bringing up children purely optional. Even in societies and communities where, in theory, fatherhood is accepted or esteemed, in reality there is often a huge issue of absentee fathers and very little fathering of the Ephesians 6 type going on. Into this context Dr Kenneth O Gangel, an accomplished Bible scholar, Christian educator and tireless advocate for the Christian family who went to be with the Lord in 2009, still speaks a very timely word…

With a deep breath in his lungs and a firm grasp on his courage, Mark is about to take on the biggest job of his life. At the age of 28 he’s getting married. The demands of his skyrocketing career in electronics research must now take second place to the priorities of his role as a faithful husband and, perhaps soon, a faithful father.

Only now is Mark beginning to understand how much more learning he has to do. To become a discipler, he must first be a disciple. To become a teacher, he first must learn. He and Teri both come from families in which fathers lived out decades of faithfulness to their wives and their children, and Mark has no intention of blemishing that record.

He reads newspapers and watches television, so he knows the distorted image of fathering displayed by today’s media. Mark also knows the staggering statistics coming out of national polls.

A Harris poll indicated that 84 percent of Americans believe the family is important, but fewer than half the people responding to the survey indicated they would “work at marriage.”

Another study showed that American seventhand eighth-graders average 7.5 minutes per week of focused conversation with their fathers. Still another study showed that fathers of preschoolers spend an average of 37 seconds a day talking with their children.

In a day when leadership means visibility, popularity, likeability, and drive, Mark wants to be a quiet family leader who doesn’t need constant high-profile activity to mark his role in the home. But faithfulness in biblical fathering requires recognition of the headship role, much disputed in recent decades.

The Greek word kephale (head) is used 58 times in the New Testament to describe a part of human anatomy and 13 times as a symbol for leadership. Faithful leadership is the other side of submission – it makes submission possible. Despite many modern interpretations of a variety of biblical texts, conservative evangelical scholars still acknowledge the God-ordained leadership of husbands and fathers in their own homes (1 Cor. 11:3,8,9; Eph. 5:23; 1 Peter 3:1).

Spiritually mature men understand this not as dominance, but as responsibility. One author likened it to sitting at the back of a canoe, responsible for steering its direction and making sure you look ahead for dangerous logs or rocks in the river.

All this reflects the faithfulness of the heavenly Father. In relation to both God and us the Greek and Hebrew words for ‘faithful’ mean solid, certain, dependable, and reliable (1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:18). That is what men following God’s pattern will be. So God models faithful leadership for us, and we model faithful leadership for our families.

Perhaps such leadership relates especially to our sons whom, from their earliest years, we groom into the next generation of fathers and church leaders.

All this reflects the faithfulness of the heavenly Father. In relation to both God and us the Greek and Hebrew words mean that men following God’s pattern will be solid, certain, dependable, and reliable (1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:18). So God models faithful leader ship for us, and we model faithful leadership for our families.

Perhaps such leadership relates especially to our sons whom, from their earliest years, we groom into the next generation of fathers and church leaders.

[Kenneth O Gangel continues to speak on fathering, and particularly on the importance of learning to teach, in the latest edition of Conversation Magazine.]

And some more resources on parenting:

Advertisements

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s