There is a universal psychological pattern in all humanity, throughout time and across the globe. By God’s design, we all need fathers, mothers, to be loved, and to be accepted. These needs are hardwired into our minds and are met first by our families, and ultimately by God Himself. If these needs go unmet, there are very real mental and social consequences.
One of those needs has been drastically unmet in our country for a long time: the need for fathers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2020, 1 in 4 children lived without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home.* With so many children living in homes with such an important spiritual and psychological need unfulfilled, the results that play out in our culture are dreadful.
Fathers, you may be nodding your head and patting yourself on the back, thanking the Lord that you aren’t a part of the problem. After all, you’re home every weekend. Your children see you every day and you are part of their lives, maybe even more than your own father was part of yours. And you may be right; you may not be part of the problem.
But being physically present isn’t enough. You have to embody the biblical role of Father to its fullest extent. And the Father archetype you must pattern yourself after is God Himself.
The Good King or the Tyrant?
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
And You are exalted as head over all.
Both riches and honor come from You,
And You reign over all.
In Your hand is power and might;
In Your hand it is to make great
And to give strength to all. (1 Chronicles 29:11-12 NKJV)
God the Father is like the good King. The good King sits in the place of highest prominence and rules over all. But His rule is generous and kind. He sets order in His realm, protects His people, provides all of their needs, and has provided an inheritance for them.
On the other hand, a tyrant also sits on a throne, but everything he does fulfills his own desires. His people slave for him. His people defend him. His people provide for him. He leaves no legacy or inheritance for those who come after him.
Fathers, are you the good king, or are you the tyrant? How have your children been blessed by your leadership? What have you done to order your household or build a legacy for your family? Have you instead been a burden, refusing to sacrifice your own desires, and expecting them to serve you?
The Warrior or the Coward?
The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man;
He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war.
He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud;
He shall prevail against His enemies. (Isaiah 42:13 NKJV)
God the Son, Jesus Christ, is like the warrior. The warrior is the knight who defeats the monstrous dragon. He has taken up His sword and stood between the devouring beast and His people. His body bears the scars of His warfare for our sake.
Opposite the Warrior is the coward. The coward may bear a sword but never raises it except to defend his own life or to oppress others. The coward may project strength, but only to bully and intimidate. The coward is never a shelter for the innocent or the weak and is never found battling dragons. In fact, the coward often finds himself acting as a dragon towards those he should be protecting.
Fathers, are you the warrior or the coward? Are you using your sword against the dragons at the gate, or are you the dragon? How many battles have you fought for the souls of your children? How many scars do you have from shielding your family from darkness? Or have you been content to let the beasts of sin run rampant in your household?
The Teacher or the Fool?
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13).
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
God the Holy Spirit is our Teacher. The Teacher is the conduit of heavenly enlightenment, the one who endows wisdom and knowledge to darkened minds. Under the Teacher’s guidance, minds are filled and ignorance is replaced by understanding.
On the other hand, the fool smothers wisdom and drags those who desire knowledge back into the darkness of ignorance. The fool may possess knowledge and be able to communicate wisdom, but he chooses not to. All who the fool leads come to a destructive end.
Fathers, are you the teacher or the fool? When you speak, do your words ever carry the weight of wisdom revealed by the Holy Spirit? Do you ever instruct your children in the knowledge and fear of the Lord? Or have your words instead been frivolous, making little of the things of God, or guiding your family into destruction?
Men, the Word of God sets a high standard for us. We are expected to be “perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). This is impossible in our own strength. We need to be on our knees every day, begging our heavenly Father for the grace and ability to be the fathers He commands us to be. He is a kind Father, more than willing to grant strength and provide grace for our shortcomings.
*Source: U.S. Census Bureau. (2020). Living arrangements of children under 18 years old: 1960 to present. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau.