“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” (1Co 4:15,16). June is the month of Father’s Day. The role of the godly father in the life of the conservative Biblical church is inestimable. What character traits of fathers do we depend on to be an influence for spiritual conservatism? Can we invite the rising generation to be followers of us?
The father must be changed. A father is changed from loyalty to his inherent self-life and self-worship to being a disciple of Jesus, which places his life on the altar. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Php 3:9,10). Until a man is conformed to the death of Jesus in his personal life, he will be of little value for the cause of spiritual life in the church and the family. Brokenness is crucial to understanding the heart of Jesus. Good things will happen in the family and the church as our fathers surrender to the lordship of Jesus completely, unreservedly, and without conditions. Be ye followers of me!
The father will be an example. A father is not merely an instructor. It is much easier to say the right things than it is to live a life that says, “Be ye followers of me.” Follow me in denying self, follow me in letting go of the appreciations of the world, and follow me in living in the immoral corrupt society. A father is endowed with a natural God-given place of leadership that begs for exemplary living. A father who says by his life, “Be ye followers of me,” proves that it is possible to follow the footsteps of Jesus in everyday life. Be ye followers of me!
The father will give answers. There are problems in life; children need answers. Child behavior experts say that the normal child asks 15,000 questions by the time he is a teenager. Parents need to have 15,000 answers that will help form logical conclusions in their child’s life. “Is that man a Christian if he drinks beer?” and so forth. Logical answers based in the scriptures will form solid logical practices in the life of the child. Godly answers build a house on the rock of absolute truth. Be ye followers of me!
The father will be unwavering in his convictions. The unwavering father shows his love by being restrictive. He knows his responsibility as a watchman. It is love that causes a father to restrict the danger of an eroding secular society by setting standards for his home. He is unwavering when everyone else is doing it in an apostatizing religious environment. He sees the little things in light of the big picture—the hairstyles of his daughters, respect for the Lord’s Day, and a whole myriad of other real-life issues—and gives unwavering direction and instruction to those issues. The father is unwavering in his support and encouragement of a biblical conservative church. The things that were wrong yesterday are still wrong today. Too many fathers are looking at other families’ practices for the standard of their own family. A father must be unwavering in his conviction. Be ye followers of me!
The father will honor authority. There is nothing that undermines God’s plan for the home and the church as much as disrespect for God’s chosen leadership. Rebellion in any form is an undermining factor for one’s own authority. Do your children see respect for the civil authorities, building inspectors, policemen, and other ministers of God? What about the trustee board of your church? The school board? nothing will destroy your own authority as quickly as disrespect for those over you. Be ye followers of me!
The father will be sensitive to those he leads. “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Col 3:21). A father carefully weighs the balance of criticism with encouragement. It is easy to fall into the habit of being a critic, but a wise father will find positive ways to encourage his family. Leadership must always be tempered with the realization that leading affects others. A father carefully considers the present performance in the broader scope of life. Someone has said that a child can sit at the table a thousand times and not spill the milk and never hear a word of praise, but if he spills the milk once he may be severely criticized. A father is sensitive when the milk spills. A true father’s heart finds joy in praise of good behavior and will express appreciation. He does not neglect opportunity to be an encourager in the home and the church. Be ye followers of me!
The father will be reasonable. A father lays the foundation of love in the home. Love produces reasonable expectations for the wife and children. Reasonableness is the willingness to change our mind when reasoned with from a spiritual point of view. “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Pro 9:9). A reasonable father sees the resource for even more wisdom in the people he is called to serve. Reasonableness produces loyalty. It is especially important to admit shortcomings in your own life. A reasonable father produces trust that helps his family understand that he has the best in mind for them, even when not all the details are evident and they do not understand. Be ye followers of me!