When I lost my father in March last year, I felt a covering had left me and my children since he acted as their earthly father. He left a void.
I believe fathers should be celebrated for the important role they play in the lives of their children. A father gives a child identity, self-worth and security. It would be a good thing if every man’s highest achievement or goal was being a good father since no other success can make up for a failed fatherhood.
In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul describes fatherhood thus: God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of every man and man being the head of the woman. It can be intimidating for a man to be called a spiritual leader of the household. Worry not, dear papa, because our heavenly father gave us a blueprint and imprint of fatherhood.
A spiritual leader executes his role well if he can see through the eyes of Christ as a priest, prophet and king. To succeed as a father, a man should, to the best of his ability and knowledge, carry out the following duties:
Presents his family to God
It is the father’s priestly role to provide divine protection to his family. It is his God-given responsibility, which he cannot delegate. In the Bible, Job had seven sons and three daughters. Once a week, his family would meet to fast and for fellowship and he would personally offer sacrifice on behalf of his children in case they had sinned.
As the Israelites were about to leave for the Promised Land, fathers were instructed to select a lamb, slaughter it and apply the blood of the Passover lamb on the door-post. The angel of death had been assigned to specifically kill the firstborns of every Egyptian household. The Israelites fathers’ priestly role brought God’s salvation to their families as the angel passed any home whose door was smeared with blood.
Just like the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31, fathers have the God-given privilege of exercising faith, reading the Bible, praying, telling their households about eternal life, and anything that entails salvation.
Presents God to his family
A father’s role is to present God to his household as a prophet does to the people. A prophet listens from God and communicates what he is told. Fathers should prioritise listening to God as they read the Bible, spend time in prayer, listen to sound teachings, and get wise counsel from other Christians. Sociologists and psychiatrists almost agree that a child forms his first impression about God from his father. Fathers should offer discipline, be kind, considerate, warm-hearted, and portray God in good light. A harsh father can make a child to develop a negative attitude towards God.
Fathers should educate and instruct their children on spiritual matters. As the father exercises his role, he should guard against rebellion and anything that can discourage the children. Communicating with children in a non-religious setting can ensure they express themselves freely, thus averting resentment of faith matters by the children.
Manages his family on behalf of God
A father should rule or govern his family just as a king does over his kingdom. His role as a king should be to lead, provide, and protect with humility. To successfully execute this duty, some qualities are needed. According 1 Timothy 3:4-5, a father must be able to control and command respect of his children and ensure they are obedient and respectful.
Fathers can learn a few lessons from the story of Abraham. It all started with God making a covenant with him, changing his name from Abram to Abraham, and choosing him to be a father to many nations. He relied on God to build a mighty nation. He was chosen because he had the ability to command his children and his household to walk in the ways of the Lord. He could be relied upon to fulfil his duties as a governor or administrator of his family. Abraham set a pattern for all subsequent believers. By faith we are children of Abraham.
Our earthly fathers might have let us down and maybe caused us deep wounds. It’s time to forgive them, unlearn bad behaviours we might have seen in our fathers, learn new things and set a good example for our children.
It would be a big mistake to think that men can muscle their way to spiritual leadership of the household. God alone will enable the fathers to fulfil their priestly, kingly and prophetic roles.