In the midst of our summertime journey, we pause this weekend in June to honor, remember and encourage our fathers. It seems that too often fatherhood is not focused on, even as important and crucial as it is. I would like to reflect on the weekend scriptures in light of fatherhood and how we can learn from God attributes of the father. It appears that fatherhood is in crisis. As a society and even within our own African American community. The role and understanding of fatherhood are so crucial to the survival of our families and children. Fatherhood is vital and has a key role in the cultivation, promotion of family and family values. When we think of family values within our community we realize that fathers have a role in our families even if they may not appear to be the traditional 2 parents and 2.5 children in the household. The primary values I would be lifting up in family as a place where all experience unconditional love, where all feel valued and a vital part of the family unit, and family life. Family can be were one has within the household has a clear sense of belonging and finds strengthen from their relationship with God who is our Father, lived out by loving parents.
In the Exodus account we see a clear glimpse of God as Father. The claiming of His people, the protecting of the people of Israel, fighting their battles and ultimately providing for them are all characteristics of the Fatherhood of God found in Exodus 19:4
“You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians
and how I bore you up on eagle wings
and brought you here to myself.
Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant,
you shall be my special possession,
dearer to me than all other people,
though all the earth is mine.”
There is the image of calling together, bringing together and unifying the family that we see from God’s love for His people. There is a deep ownership and a cherishing of the people God claims as His own. Fathers find in God’s relationship with His people and his desire to not only seek them out and provide for them but to cherish His people and not leave them to fend for themselves. The family as the priority of His focus. The Lord says: “dearer to me than all other people.” Men your fatherhood must be your priority, in union with your spouse. The old adage, “the family that prays together stays together.” This prayer life of the family recognizing the fatherly care of God becomes the very glue that holds the family unit together. If possible, in union with your spouse you witness the love of God and take as your own special possession you family.
To model after God as our Father, men are called to be the first teachers of our children. The first to teach and witness to a child is the father and mother. Children will emulate, imitate and follow the instruction and example of their fathers.
- Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck. (Proverbs 1:8-9)
- Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight. (Proverbs 4:1)
- For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
- (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
Modeling yourselves after our Heavenly Father, fathers you are called live out what it means to be a godly, namely to be like God, to shape our lives, actions and treatment and regard for our children and others as God would. That’s because, although children may often not do as they are instructed, they rarely fail to do what you do. And no matter how much you try to teach them something, they will be unlikely to listen if they see you acting and behaving differently. Children can spot a hypocrite a mile away, and even if they don’t say anything about it now, it will definitely show up in their behavior later. Children won’t follow your instruction because they won’t believe you, if they see a different action in you. That do as I say not as I do adage doesn’t make it, St Paul says “then you who teach another, are you failing to teach yourself? Romans 2:21. I see so much of my own desire to serve those in need, to be generous, caring, seeking to better the lives of another it is because my father modeled all these things for us.
The Good Shepherd image we have today and the calling of the Apostles can be a motivation and inspiration for fathers. Fatherhood is a vocation to witness to love and the power of God present in the lives of our families. As the Apostles are called to go forth and pull together their own household. Jesus tell His disciples, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” This unconditional loving and total giving of oneself to being a father has to be at the heart of fatherhood as shown to us by God who is the loving Father. There is no condition, we are God’s children and God gives to us, provides for us blesses and anoints us without counting the cost. This is truly what model we ourselves are called to live after our Father in heaven shown us.
The Fatherhood of God is truly a model for all our faithers as they with their spouse at their side lead and guide their families.