Christian Husbands and Fathers

What does it mean to be a good husband and father? How does the Bible define the role of a Husband and a father? As a man who has been married nearly ten years now, and with three kids, these questions are extremely important to me. I’ve spent the last nine and a half years trying to become the man that my wife deserves and the husband that would honor our marriage, and the last six years trying to be the godly father my children deserve. I have failed many times but I have also learned a lot along the way. I’ve known several men who have demonstrated what it means to be a godly husband and father and for their example, I am very thankful. While watching others live it out is important, nothing can replace knowing the Biblical roots for the calling of a husband and father and choosing to live them out ourselves. At some point, we ourselves need to become an example for others.

I think the Bible lays things out pretty neatly for men. The calling on husbands and fathers is to lead, to love, and to lay down our lives. Looking back through history, men as a whole (the church included) have not followed God’s design for being a husband and father very well. The male dominant societies throughout the centuries demonstrate a real misguided view of the value of women and children and men’s role in the lives. While there are clear passages in the Bible that address the role of husbands and fathers, it seems they get lost in translation a lot. This is not an indictment, it’s a rallying cry for me and my brothers out there to step it up and show this world what God designed us to be. We can’t rely on media or even the pulpit to show us the way. God has already done that. The rest of this post is about what I’ve learned along the way and the standard I want to be held accountable to.

The Bible sets the man up as the head of the household. The head is the one who takes the lead. So what exactly does it mean to lead? Leadership is not domineering. While the husband/father is the Biblical head of the family, he is not the dictator. The best leaders in life are those who lead by example. They never ask of others what they are not willing to do themselves. Every value they hope to cultivate in those they lead, they first cultivate in themselves. A leader listens to the voices of those they lead. They seek what is best for those they lead. And a leader never views themselves as any more important than anyone else. A true leader is humble. As husbands, we must involve our spouses and children. We must invest our time, more in them than in any job or career. As husbands, our highest calling is in our homes.

A husband/father is not just a provider for the family, they are a nurturer as well. I know a lot of men who believe that their job is 9 to 5 and then check out the rest of the time. Male chauvinistic societies have unfortunately bread generation after generation of men who view life this way. All of a sudden fictitious gender roles are created. The wife takes care of the home and the children and the husband brings home the paycheck right? False. That is not the Biblical design. The home and the children belong to both the husband and the wife. They are jointly responsible for their wellbeing. While some women are geared more towards gentleness and nurturing, it is no less the man’s responsibility to be tender and kind and invest quality time in his children. Our wives should also get more of our energy and affection than our hobbies or careers. If we went to our jobs and sat around in a lounge chair and watched tv or scrolled our phones all day, we’d get fired. So why do we think it’s a good idea to do that when we walk in the door of our homes? Our wives and our children deserve our best, not our leftovers.

Back to the concept of fictitious gender roles…whoever said it was the wife’s job to cook, clean, and do the “dirty work” of taking care of our kids? It certainly wasn’t God. The best leaders are willing and able to do the hard stuff. They don’t delegate it. Just look at the greatest leader of all time: Jesus. He came to Earth to serve. From day one, He laid down His life, all the way to His last breath. If Jesus can stoop to wash the feet of sinful men, then we can stoop to do any task that can help ensure the success of our homes. If Jesus could lay down His life, and bear our sin on the cross, then we can lay down our pride to wash the dishes, take out the trash, cook dinner, clean up the kitchen, change the diapers, vacuum the floors, and on and on. These are the responsibilities of a parent, not a wife. As the head of the house, it is our charge to share the load, in whatever form that may take. If we want to be a great leader then we need to look for ways to take the burdens off of our wives’ shoulders. If we want to lead the way Jesus did, then our lives need to be far less about ourselves, and far more about those God has placed in our care.

There is no one who can ever take the place of dad. More than anyone else, they are the ones who will give their children their first and greatest impression of what God is like. More than anyone else, they are the ones who can impress value and worth on their daughters and sons. To be a dad is to carry a heavy responsibility but it is a role to be cherished. Men, don’t find your fulfillment in your work. That’s empty compared to your role as a father. Our children need us to step up. Our children need to see us love their mom deeply. Our children need us to be there for them and with them. They couldn’t care less about how much we make. They want us. Our time and our affection. They need to hear us say “I love you” often. More than that, they need us to show them we love them often. We cannot abdicate our role to anyone else.

Men, our wives need to know that they are a priority. We should never stop pursuing them and showing them they are our greatest treasure. Chivalry is not dead. Honor is not dead. When we get married we should do more to win over our wives than we ever did when dating or during the engagement. We cannot let our vows be empty promises. They are a promissory note stamped on our hearts sealed for life. Our love must endure the hardest of times. A fragile love is not real love. They need to know we are in it for the long haul, not to simply make it, but to thrive and to love greatly. Men, let’s love greatly.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

Ephesians 5:25-27 NASB

Start at Home

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The pastor must first be the shepherd of his family. The missionary must first be witnessing to their spouse and kids. Before we were charged to go to the nations, we were charged with teaching our children in the ways of the Lord. The man who proclaims the gospel to the world, but does not love his spouse as Christ loves the church, has abandoned his greatest calling. The woman who pours her heart out for everyone but fails to devote her heart to her husband has missed her greater purpose. Parents that devote so much time to the church and so little to their children are missing the mark. Loved ones, the call of Christ will take us all to different places, but it will always start at home. 

My God, my Children, and Me

father-child-hand2I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting and how God looks at me as His child compared to how I see my own children. I had a friend of mine named Connor tell me, before my first daughter was born, that God was going to show me a lot about His feelings towards me through my experience in fatherhood. He was so right!  I’ve learned so much about grace, love, and sacrifice that I never really knew before. And since my second daughter has been born, it has only heightened my experience.

God has so many beautiful characteristics that I’ve been learning more about. And one of my favorites qualities has to be His patience. Lord knows I give Him opportunities every day to be patient with me. We all do right? We either wouldn’t be here, or our life would look very different, if He wasn’t a patient God. But have you ever wondered why? Why is God so patient with us? Why is He so patient with all the ‘bad’ people in the world? I Know I wouldn’t be nearly as patient with me as He is. And we certainly aren’t as patient with others as He is. Yet another reason why we would all make lousy gods.

I feel like being a parent has given me a unique insight into the realm of patience. (And all the parents in the world said, “Amen.”) Let’s face it, kids provide a lot off opportunities for us to grow in patience. Dinner time, nap time, clean up time, play time, road trips, and on and on. Our patience is tried. But this in not a wrap on children. This is more a comparison between us (as grown ups) and our children.

Have you ever watched your children from a place where they were completely unaware of your presence, just to see what they were going to do? There’s a situation, and your children are presented with a choice to do what was right or what was wrong. So you watch, hoping that they make the right choice. As a parent, there is an urge to intervene, always. The natural desire to steer our children in the right direction has been written on our hearts. But there are times when intervention is not the right course of action. There are times when a parent needs to observe, to hope, and to pray. Because our children need to learn to fly and apply the lessons they’ve been taught. Besides, obedience untested, is no obedience at all.

I would love to say that my kiddos pass the obedience test with flying colors, every time. But they’re human, just like us. I’d like to say I pass the test every time. But I don’t. And I imagine God, being our Father, observes us day in and day out. Sometimes He intervenes, and sometimes He doesn’t. But every time, He is watching, and hoping that we make the right choices.  This illustration has limits though; I get that. Since God knows everything that will ever happen, He already knows every choice we will ever make in life. (That’s both scary and extremely comforting!) Nothing we do is a surprise to Him. Unlike with human parents, hoping their children make the right choices, God already knows before the choice is even presented. Granted, there are times that parental intuition kicks in and you know what your kids are going to do or say before it happens. But that’s rare in comparison to an omniscient God.

I think God’s all-knowing nature makes His patience even greater. Think about it. If you knew all the mistakes your children were going to make, how much patience would it require for you to allow them to mess up and then to find their way back, guiding with care and love, just as our God does? You’d probably be like me; ready to jump in so that our children would have a mistake free life. You’d want to make the path to the good life obvious. You’d give them an instructions on how to live, how to relate to others, how to view themselves, and continually remind them of your love for them so they never forgot. You’d try to introduce them to people who’d be a good influence in their life. You’d give them all of their needs plus so much more. Sound familiar? This is exactly how God has reached down to humanity since the dawn of our existence.

As parents, these are the things we try to do. Only we operate with limited knowledge, limited experience, and not to mention, we’re all flawed. And even the best parents cannot lead their children into a fault free life. Why? Because even the best parents have faults. Parenting is trial and error. Parenting is like nothing else in the world. It’s so hard, and yet, it is so fun! I have two little girls, and they are amazing. They make me laugh. They make me want to cry. The can turn the hardest days around with a simple “I love you daddy.” They can frustrate me, but they also fill my heart with so much joy.

I think we have the same effect on our Heavenly Father. Don’t you think He longs to hear His children say. “I love you daddy”? There’s no doubt we frustrate Him, even though He’s already seen the road map of our lives. But His children are His treasure. You bring Him so much joy. He knows your screw ups. He knows your faults. Yet He died for you anyways. There is no length too far that God has not already gone for you and me. There is no list of bad choices that will make God lose his patience with you. His heart is for you. It always has been.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness.

Psalm 103:8 (NASB)