“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, NKJV).
Are fathers important? Our society has devalued the role of fatherhood for over a generation. Back in 1992, the then Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle, commented on the importance of fathers in the home and criticized a TV program, Murphy Brown, for setting a poor example by extolling single motherhood. The media and entertainment industries attacked him viciously for promoting ideas that represented traditional American values and the importance of husbands and fathers. (1)
Within a year, The Atlantic published a front page article entitled “Dan Quayle was right.” Their research showed that the collapse of the two-parent family was harmful to children and weakened and undermined our society. (2)
In 2012, The Washington Post ran an article describing how Dan Quayle was still right. The research showed that intact families resulted in better children in multiple ways. (3)
Today, the evidence from secular research still demonstrates the same thing. Children with involved fathers are more likely to do better academically, more likely to go to college, find higher paying stable employment and earn more money, less likely to be sexually active, and less likely to end up afoul of the law. They even have higher IQs. (4)
All this just demonstrates that God’s plan for families is the right plan. It was God who ordained and instituted marriage and family (Gen. 2:24). Marriage is the union of one man and one woman into an honorable, respectful, loving, lifelong relationship. Through them, God gave the privilege of creating new life. His purpose was for that family to raise godly children (Mal. 2:15).
God has given the responsibility of leadership of the family to the man (Eph. 5:22-23). So, if God’s purpose and goal for the family is to raise godly children, then it is imperative that the leader lead in godliness.
What makes a good leader? First, a godly husband and dad will be a man of conviction. Conviction is a lot different than preference. A preference is something we want, but it is not something that anchors our lives. A conviction is something that is so foundational to our lives that we will sacrifice for it or endure hardship in order to keep that value resolute.
For example, it should be a conviction that the Bible is the Word of God and the final authority for my life. Because of that conviction, the husband will arrange his life around the truths of God’s Word, even if that is not convenient. A godly man will have the conviction that faith in Jesus Christ is the way of salvation. That faith will be more than head knowledge but a full commitment to Jesus as Lord of life. Then one’s life is arranged by submission and service to King Jesus.
The godly husband and dad will be a man of prayer. In order for his prayers to be effective, he must be loving, giving, understanding, and kind to his wife (Mal. 2:13-16, 1 Peter 3:7). So, a godly man will make his wife a priority in his life. And it is obvious that a godly man will live a life of righteousness, which includes right living and good works (Eph. 2:10, Rom. 6:18-19, 1 Cor. 15:34, Eph. 4:24, 1 Tim. 6:11, 2 Tim. 2:22, 2 Tim. 3:16, Titus 2:12).
Second, a leader will lead. There are many elements to leadership, but we will address three.
Initiative is a quality of leadership. Initiative doesn’t wait for someone else to start things.
This doesn’t mean that a husband and father does not need to learn and grow. It means that he will take the power of opportunity to direct his family in the way of holiness. He will take the responsibility to guide his wife and children in the way of the Lord.
Instruction is part of the biblical requirements of leadership for men. He is to bring up his children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). The godly father will exhort, comfort, and charge his children (1 Thess. 2:11). The responsibility for education falls to dad. This doesn’t mean that he has to do all the teaching. It means that he is responsible to make sure that his children are receiving godly education.
Influence is the third element we will note. John Maxwell once said, “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” (5) Leadership is more than just telling children what to do. It is showing them the way to live. It is like when Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1, 1 Cor. 4:16, Php. 3:17). If dad leads the way and demonstrates a faithful Christian life, the children are likely to follow suit. For example, if dad is faithful in his church attendance, it is likely the children will be also. (6)
Are you a husband? Are you a dad? You have been given a powerful opportunity to influence your family for God. Don’t shy away from that. Accept the responsibility. Embrace the challenge.
Ask the Lord to help you be a godly father and husband. It is His will for you, and so you can be assured that He will help you (James 1:5).
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
“But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”
“...In whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
“And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore, take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. “For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
1 Peter 3:7
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
“And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”
See also 1 Cor. 15:34, Eph. 4:24, 1 Tim. 6:11, 2 Tim. 2:22, 2 Tim. 3:16, Titus 2:12
“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 2:11
“As you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children,...”
1 Corinthians 11:1
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” See also 1 Cor. 4:16, Php. 3:17
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
“Walk a Little Plainer, Daddy”
By Christy Hollis
Walk a little plainer, Daddy,
Said a little boy so frail.
I’m following in your footsteps,
And I don’t want to fail.
Sometimes your steps are very plain,
Sometimes they are hard to see.
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For you are leading me.
I know that once you walked
This way many years ago,
And what you did along the way,
I’d really like to know.
For sometimes when I am tempted,
I don’t know what to do.
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For I must follow you.
Someday when I’m grown up,
You are like I want to be.
Then when I have a little boy...
Whom will want to follow me.
And I would want to lead him right,
And help him to be true.
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For we must follow you.
(4) https://childandfamilyresearch.utexas.edu/5-things- you-should-know-about-importance-fathers#:~:text=Children%20who%20grow%20up%20with,teen%20birth%2C%20and%2080%25%20less see also https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/science-benefits-of-fatherhood-dads-father-effect/