To all the fathers out there, Happy Fathers’ Day to everyone! And yes, I am writing to you, dear father, you are my target demographic for this article.
Remember when you were young and your father told you to, “Man up!”? Now that you are a father I’d like to tell you something, “Father up!” Man up is used to tell someone that they should deal with something more bravely. So I coined “Father Up!” which for me is defined as, “be the father that you were meant to be.” Are you ready?
We can never be the kind of father as our Heavenly Father is to us. We can never be as wise, or as caring, or as responsible as He is. But He can be our model so that we, as fathers here on earth, can be the father that He has designed us to be. How can God be a model for our role as a father?
Fathers are responsible for their children.
Of course, mothers too, but the father was given this unique responsibility as head of the family. The Bible says in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The words I would like to point to you is “…but bring them up…”
In the Greek, bring them up means, “to nourish,” “to cherish,” and “to train.” All these words connote responsibility and it is mandated to the fathers. Bringing up our children means that we have to spend time teaching them the ways of the world so that they would not be fooled by it, but most importantly, the ways of God so that they will grow to be imitators of Christ.
We also need to be a constant presence for our children. If we are absentee fathers then we are relinquishing our God-ordained responsibility and leaving it up to others to raise our children. That would be a big mistake.
The Bible also points out in Psalm 128:3, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.” Notice that our children were likened to olive shoots, that when tended and nurtured properly, will produce an abundance. Olive shoots are a gaggle of life and activity which brings joy to the gardener or the one who tends the olive grove.
A Good Father Disciplines His Children
With responsibility comes the agonizing part of disciplining your children. Fathers should be at the forefront of disciplining our children which also means that we, as fathers, should be disciplined ourselves. I am the youngest in our siblings. This is one reason I have a hard time with discipline. I am used to having others do things for me because I was either too young or inexperienced.
If I see others at work that cannot do what I ask them to do, I take up the slack. If my youngest son doesn’t want to wash the dishes and to avoid a conflict, I WASH THE DISHES. I know it’s wrong. I am making my son a weakling. My wife pointed that one out to me and she is right. As the father, I need to change my ways so that I can, with a clean conscience, get my son to change his ways too.
The Bible admonishes fathers with these words in Proverbs 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Now, this is a very controversial issue these days. In some countries, parents can get jailed or their children were taken from them if they implement corporal punishment such as spanking. This can be attributed to parents who physically abuse their children in the guise of discipline.
The Philippine President at the time this was written, wisely vetoed a proposed law outlawing corporal punishment. God says we should not withhold the rod when it is needed. How you “apply” the rod is an entirely different matter to talk about in another article. This view, if you wish to know, does not sit well with many people in the psychological and behavioral sciences, so be warned. How you “apply” the rod is an entirely different matter to talk about in another article.
A Father is expected to make tough decisions.
This topic makes me cringe. I was not raised to make tough decisions. My father did all of that. Now that I am a father too, I have to “father up” and be the father I was meant to be. Being a father is not easy. Oh yes, some joys go with fatherhood that every man should experience and something that I will cherish forever; but fathers need to be tough.
Decisions are easy when your child is just baby, or a toddler, or even just elementary age. Decisions get tough when you see them making a mistake that may affect their future. I have a colleague, who was also a pastor, once said that his daughters’ suitors will have to go through him first before they can get to step in his house.
Simply put, deciding how you raise your “babies” is already a tough decision, for you as a father and for your children. Tougher still for others is how to marry off their children especially if they are girls. In the course of raising your children, our decisions as fathers will get more difficult but do not lose heart, God will give you the wisdom to discern what is wrong and most importantly, the right decision.
It’s a good thing that we have God the Father who knows all the things that we are clueless about as fathers. No one ever taught us how to become a father except for our fathers as well. That is why knowledge of the Word of God is vital in raising our children and become the father that YOU were meant to be. Kudos to all the fathers out there who are responsible, disciplining and disciplined, and tough decision-makers. You are a blessing to your family!