From a message I preached this last Father’s Day come a number of strong principles for Fatherhood.
- Greatness as a father is found in sacrifice, not achievement. What makes a great father is not what he builds or where he succeeds. My own father’s greatest achievements in fatherhood may have happened when he was experiencing a prolonged unemployment in the early 1980’s. I remember him foregoing new clothes, new shoes, and many other things so my brothers and me could live a somewhat normal life. Love like that made him grow in our sight.
- Humility will teach your children more than great confidence ever can. In many kinds of leading, unflinching confidence is the way to help the people following. If a father will find ways to consistently communicate healthy humility, his children will learn the lessons of trusting God, asking for forgiveness, admitting faults and sizing up opportunities appropriately. These are precious heirlooms of legacy you can pass on to your children.
- Consistent forgiveness and grace point your children to God. When a man fails in front of his children, raises his voice, loses his temper or something else, he takes a big step toward teaching his own children to be people who ask for forgiveness when it’s appropriate. Furthermore, by giving forgiveness generously and forbearing with the faults and shortcomings of others and modeling acceptance of others, a father can build a sense of reality for his children that God is just such a person.
- Putting your wife’s needs in front of your own teaches your children how to treat others and what true love is. The strongest marriages set up their children for succeeding in marriage, and the father has a unique opportunity to model love. Simple things, like making sure his wife is served food first at the table, regularly doing things his wife enjoys, or completing tasks that his wife requests without grumbling or complaining, all help to give your children clear examples of what true love looks like.
- Find time to stop and connect emotionally with your children. This may seem painfully obvious, but fathers have a reputation for emotional distance and business. The only way we change this is to ask ourselves at the end of the day, “How did I connect with my children emotionally today?” Or better yet, at the start of a week or day, “How can I connect with my children in a deeper way today or this week?” By connecting emotionally, I don’t mean necessarily having a crying session or a very deep conversation. I mean that fathers must know what their children are thinking, and children need to have deeper insight into who their fathers are than just what their job is or what football team they like. Dad, your kids benefit greatly from knowing you, your story and your values, and that takes time.