5 Characteristics for Effective Fathering
Perspective! It’s the ability to see things for what they really are, to discern or distinguish clearly, to grasp or to understand what is truly important or significant!
Over the years I’ve come to discover perspective is pivotal in every area of life. Life is full of crossroads, those various intersections where a particular choice needs to be made and having the right perspective can make all the difference in making the correct decision or taking the right road.
Yet, it’s so easy to lose our perspectives, get sidetracked and miss out on what is truly important because we lose sight of what is essential. In this blog, let’s look at perspective and specifically how it relates to some very significant people – fathers.
We’re approaching that wonderful day in which we pause to “honor” our fathers! And it’s so right that we do that to express our love, our appreciation and our gratitude for the role they have had in our lives.
Over the years, I have met a number of fathers who would feel they didn’t have a good father. In fact, I am one of them. I have wrestled with the question – “How could I honor my father with all the pain and hurt he caused in our lives.
I feel the answer I received from the Lord was, I don’t honor him in relationship to what he did or what he didn’t do for our family, but I could honor that he was the one the Lord used to bring me into this world. It’s almost like I honor the position of fathering without having to say my father was a good father.
Being a father today is no easy assignment! Fathers face unprecedented challenges and extreme pressures through the various ages and stages fatherhood requires us to navigate. It’s a never-ending battle against a godless culture that seeks to shape us as fathers.
Add to all that, the reality of the enemy, Satan targets fathers because he knows the power we wield to impact and influence our children.
All through God’s Word we’re told the family is the cornerstone of God’s divine order and purpose. The father’s place, his role in the home, is so significant and so very pivotal!
My prayer is that we might gain a fresh perspective as it bears on our roles as fathers, and grandfathers (including me).
Grandfathers, what an incredible opportunity we have to impact our grandchildren. You don’t want to miss it.
Grandchildren need –
And your love.
No matter what they call you – Papa (that’s me), Pops, Grandpa, Grandad or another endearing name – you have something significant to impart into their lives!
Grandfathers, you’re not done!
I found myself recently reading from a small New Testament Epistle titled I Thessalonians. It’s the Apostle Paul’s first letter addressed to a church he pioneered or fathered. It’s a letter rich with feeling and emotion. Dripping from the pen of the apostle is the heart of a father.
Even though it’s written to a church, it contains some powerful principles that can apply to fathers.
Woven into the fabric of 1 Thessalonians 2 you’ll find five characteristics which cause us as fathers to be effective in our role, our God given assignment.
“So that you might walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own Kingdom” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-9 NASB1995).”
5 Characteristics for Effective Fathering
Follow me as we make our way through these powerful passages and allow the Lord to give you some fresh perspective on your role, your calling as a father!
- Fond Affection
“But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.
“Having thus a fond affection for you, we were pleased to impart to you not only the gospel but our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 NASB1995).
Paul could have used half of a dozen words to describe his feelings in verse 8, but he chose a word used nowhere else in the New Testament to express his fond affection – agape/philo. A term of endearment, it speaks of a warm attachment for the expression of emotions. It’s a word for touching or holding.”
I remember our first child; he was just a newborn when my wife Jan handed him to me. He was so tiny. I thought I was going to break him. She said, “Just hold him close!” That’s fond affection!
Dads, why do we stop doing that? Where does it say our children outgrow the need for fond affection?
There is something powerfully bonding about our touch. Yet we often become distant dads. Like two ships quietly passing in the night, we’ve bought into the lie that men don’t show emotion. Yes, we have emotions but so often hide them.
Your family, specifically your children, long for fond affection from you.
Let’s look back to the Scripture. Paul said, “… we were pleased to impart to you not only the gospel but our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NASB1995).
Our children hear our words, but they are impacted by our lives. So often today, we substitute things for relationships. Your children long for your time and attention.
They are watching! Your children are watching a lot of things, but especially how you handle life – how you face challenges and navigate those crossroads you encounter!
I have a penetrating question: What are you imparting?
You’re imparting something. Hopefully they are the right things, like the ability to make decisions and stick with them or to establish clear and consistent boundaries for life.
A legacy isn’t something you leave when you die, but what you impart to others while you are alive, good or bad!
I’ve been a pastor for a whole lot of years. I discovered I didn’t really impact my children from the pulpit. Away from the pulpit, during the everyday course of life I impacted them the greatest!
Paul told his spiritual children, “… you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NASB1995).
He is letting them know they were valued; they’re significant to him.
Dads, how we need to let our children know their significance, their worth. Don’t assume they know it. It’s our job to build a healthy self-esteem into them. It’s so needed today! There is so much “out there” that is seeking to confuse and destroy their sense of value and worth. Speak it; show it; write it!!
3. Hard work
“For you recall our labor and hardship, how working night and day as so as not to become a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel” (1 Thessalonians 2:9 NASB1995).
Paul is an apostle, but he didn’t use his position to excuse himself from his responsibilities. Rather, he modeled the importance of work.
Your children will form their attitudes about work from you!
4. Spiritual Leadership
“You are witnesses and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10 NASB1995).
In the home, so often this is left up to the mom. Yet the Bible is clear about our responsibility to ‘take the lead’ spiritually. We are to create the spiritual atmosphere and appetite in the home, setting the spiritual pace of the family. Our children, indeed, our wives need to see us worship, hear us pray, listen as we read his Word! The incredible impact it will have!
5. Your Words
“Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each of you as a father would his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11 NASB1995).
The words you say are so powerful. In Dan Benson’s book, The Total Man, one section asks, “Is dad really needed?” and he shared a survey with shocking results: for every one positive comment, ten negative comments accompanied it.
As fathers, we can camp on one or two irritating things about our child and never point out the positives. It’s so easy to tear them down rather than build them up!
“Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV).
Dads, let’s speak life!
Here are three ways you can speak life into the hearts of your children and grandchildren:
- Exhort them.
When you exhort someone, you stretch the potential, you call that potential out of them and challenge them to come up higher.
- Encourage them.
When you encourage someone, you lift their spirit; you motivate, inspire and applaud them in such a way that you cause them to believe in themselves.
- Implore them.
As you implore another person, you help them to stay at something, inspiring them not to quit but to keep going and discover who they are.
I want to say it again: it’s no easy assignment being a father today. There are forces at work relentlessly against us. In so many ways we are subtly being seduced away from family priorities.
And dads, childhood goes by so quickly. Before you know it, they are off to college, getting married and we’ve missed the opportunities to truly impact their lives!
Big returns never happen in the future without sizeable investments now, so make the deposits.
To all the dads reading this, I’m one of you! I’ve wrestled with those feelings of inadequacy. I have had to cope with the baggage of my past. I’m acquainted with those fears that often haunt us, as fathers … the guilt of mistakes I’ve made and the things I wish I could do over.
But I’m so grateful we have a great High Priest, who understands our weaknesses and invites us to His Throne of grace to receive His mercy and help us in this incredible role of being a father!
I want to exhort you – Don’t quit; don’t give up! Keep fighting those forces that are relentlessly coming against you! With the help of the Holy Spirit, you can break those cycles of your past and be the kind of father you are destined to be!
Your family needs you.
The church needs you.
Indeed, our nation so desperately needs you!
Zane Anderson served as a senior pastor for over 40 years, and currently leads as an Apostolic Overseer for several churches across the nation. He travels internationally to minister and is a sought after speaker at local churches, Bible colleges and conferences around the world. He has zeal for the local church body and desires to train and develop strong leaders. His gifting as a prophetic voice has helped people around the world move into the ministry that the Lord has purposed for them.