It’s not always easy being a father, and many guys don’t have a dad that modeled fatherhood well. And some have never even met their dads.
And let me be honest. Fatherhood is fulfilling, exhilarating, and completely joyful. But sometimes it’s also frustrating.
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It’s frustrating because we can’t always fix what’s broken. We don’t have all of the answers, and we can even find ourselves helpless from time to time. And as a dad to 2 adult daughters, it’s frustrating not being able to deflect the painful consequences of bad decisions, or even just the hurt of life in general.
Now I know how my own parents felt 25 years ago!
Advice for the Dads
After 25 years of fatherhood, the advice I have to give is actually somewhat simple.
- Pray more than you think you need to. Especially for and against the people in your children’s lives.
- Don’t let stuff that can wait dictate the quality or quantity of time you spend with your children.
- Always remember that though every kid loves gifts, surprises and toys, a child’s love language is measured in time, not things.
- Never, ever sweat the small stuff.
One more thing. I was speaking with a couple who are very dear friends of ours. They happen to be in their 80’s, and their children are older than my wife and I are. I said to them, “You know, it would be so much less painful if I could just make some decisions for them.” Their reply was priceless and valuable:
“Our kids are in their 50’s and we still wished we could make a few decisions for them!”
We don’t get to shield our children from all of the pain and brokenness in our sinful world. We can only prepare them to respond to it. And just like our hearts sometimes ache for our kids, so does God’s heart grieve for you and me.
My final advice then is this:Never take for granted the wisdom an older generation is willing to share with you!Click To Tweet
Encouragement for Dads
The Bible has a ton of things to say about fathers. There are verses about a dad instructing his children (Proverbs 22:6), some encouraging a dad (Proverbs 23:24), and others that bring our Heavenly Father into the picture (I Thessalonians 2:11-12).
So to honor, encourage and equip the guys out there, here are 11 things the Bible says about being a father.
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Dads are Leaders
1. Proverbs 20:7 (LEB) – “He who walks in his integrity is righteous; happy are his children who follow him.”
The point of this verse is not how to be righteous or have happy kids that follow. The main point is integrity.
2. Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) – “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
The Greek work translated here as discipline was a word that meant the entire training and upbringing of a child. This includes education, morals, correction, punishment, and even taking care of the body. This verse includes all of that plus a warning from Paul that we are not to punish our kids out of anger. The discipline and instruction of the Lord is the main idea. We as dads offer mercy and grace, but also correction, discipline, and modeling behavior without destructive habits.
3. Titus 2:2 (NLT) – “Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.”
Look at these attributes. This verse instructs us to be men of quality character. The key here being to live wisely because without wisdom, we can’t live in self-control, love, patience, or be worthy of respect.
Dads are Teachers
4. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) – “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The point here being the way a child should go, not the way you or your kid thinks they want to go. And let me add that it is never too early to pray and begin discerning how God wants your child to go.
5. James 1:5 (ESV) – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Fatherhood requires more wisdom than most of us are born with. Ask God for it. In all areas, all the time.
6. Colossians 3:19 (NLT) – “Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.”
This is one of the highest levels of teaching a dad can provide. Guys, we have the ability to set a standard in our children’s lives. Our daughters and sons are watching how we treat their mother. It better be the way you want your son to treat his wife, or how you want a young man to treat your daughter.
7. Colossians 3:21 (LEB) – “Fathers, do not provoke your children, so that they will not become discouraged.”
Another opportunity here, men. The option is to either build our kids up and encourage them, or tear them down by aggravating them.
8. Proverbs 14:26 (GW) – “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and his children will have a place of refuge.”
This verse points out that we as God’s children have a refuge in Him. Building trust, earning respect (yes, you must earn respect even from your kids), and being present for your children will instill a confidence in them that you are a safe place as well. It’s another opportunity, and this time it’s to point your kids to the Lord as their ultimate refuge.
9. Matthew 18:6 (ESV) – “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Jesus had just called a small child to Himself and was using him or her as an example to His disciples. They had been arguing among themselves about who’s going to be the greatest superhero in the coming kingdom. Look at the language He levels at His disciples. Whether the point was a literal young child or a spiritually immature new believer, I’m not testing Christ’s fatal warning. Don’t gamble with your children’s safety, and don’t let others, either.
2 Bonus Verses for Encouraging the Dads
10. Psalm 127:3 (ESV) – “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”
Children are a blessing from the Lord. An inheritance that God has given to us. Our responsibility is to nurture and invest in them.
11. Matthew 11:28 (NLT) – “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Fatherhood is an immense joy that’s difficult to put words around. It’s also not always easy. Rest in Christ, and always turn to Him regarding your kids.
It’s never too soon, and it’s never too late.