The words of Paul in Ephesians 6 remind Christian fathers that our parenting has a great end towards which we must aim. God gave us the task of teaching, correcting, disciplining, loving, and training our children so that they come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and walk in a way which pleases him. We often feel unequipped for this task, but looking to the Scriptures and seeing the example of other godly dads give us instruction for this great task.
A Godly Dad Keeps Growing
A man can only be an effective father as he continues to grow spiritually. Our marriage and parenting will be impacted by our sin and lack of maturity. We will be impatient, temperamental, rude, thoughtless, and respond sinfully to being sinned against, so our only option is to keep growing in holiness and sanctification. Putting to death the sin in our lives and growing in Christlike maturity will have a practical effect on the way we lead our homes.
A Godly Dad Loves His Wife
Men, before the call to parent our children is the call to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. We can so center our homes on our children that we neglect our marriages, and a neglected marriage will become an unhappy marriage. All of our parenting efforts can be undone when resentments and hurts build up between our wives and ourselves.
A Godly Dad Teaches Consistently
Moses tells fathers to talk with their children about the commands and statutes of the Lord as they sit in their houses and walk by the way. He uses this rhetorical device to underscore the necessity of fathers teaching their children in every instance of life. The wise father will see all of life as an opportunity to teach his children about the Gospel, walking with Jesus, and practical wisdom.
A Godly Dad Disciplines Patiently
A few months ago I wrote a post titled, “The Joy and Pain of Consistent Parenting.” It was an extended meditation on Proverbs 29:17, “Discipline your son and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” Consistently teaching, correcting, and disciplining our children can be exhausting work. We can easily give in to the temptation to let things go we should address or to “parent” by simply barking orders, and neither of these is an acceptable option.
A Godly Dad Repents When He is Wrong
“What I said to you and the way I said it was wrong. Will you forgive me?” I don’t know that there is a more difficult thing for a father to say to his children. We will sin against our children at some point in our parenting, either through losing our temper, accusing falsely, speaking harshly, or in a thousand other ways. When we sin against our children, we must repent to the Lord and repent to our children.
A Godly Dad Knows He Needs the Power of the Holy Spirit
Men, if what we have just talked about sounds like hard work, it is. We get up in the mornings, go to work during the day, come home to play with and spend time with our children, and then get them in bed so we can spend time with our wives. Then we fall in the bed ourselves so we can get up and get back at it again tomorrow. It doesn’t make for an interesting reality show, but this self-giving is central to what it means to be a father and a husband.