A hard look at the world today reveals a distortion in the divine order for the family. Understanding the strategic position of the family in building communities and nations, the devil is working overtime to enslave men, targeting the family. His success is becoming increasingly evident — the grim facts are seen, reported, and heard about daily, and involve the collapse of many family units. With the decay of the family, we see the terrible effects on our society — increased crime, behavioural disorders, poverty, drug abuse, and the like.
What then is the way out of this mess that has overcome this generation? Fatherhood.
Fatherhood is more than getting a woman pregnant, or having a mountain size ego; it is a dignified position as the anchor of the family link. Asides the responsibility of providing strength and support to the family, like the anchor to a ship, the father holds the family together in storms and moral degeneration that characterize the century. The father is strength and support to his home, and most importantly, the custodian of the family values and honour for generations after him.
In Deuteronomy 6:1-2, the people of Israel are getting ready to go into the promised land after forty years of wandering in the wilderness. They have before them an unbelievable opportunity. And that opportunity is to go into the promised land, obey the laws of God, and establish a new civilization and a new culture for their children and all the generations to come. And the responsibility for this crucial task was laid on the shoulders of fathers.
Ralph W. Sockman said, “What makes greatness is starting something that will live after you.” King Solomon wrote, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). God gives every father the opportunity to do something great. It is the wise man who makes the most of the opportunity.
On the counterfactual, greatness is in the heritage, not in possessions, and the heritage or inheritance that keep the family link is the fear of the Lord. Greatness is about what lives after you. What lives after you, as a father, are your children.
The family provides the most stable and secure foundation for society and is fundamental to the preparation of young people for their future responsibilities. The society is morally declining because families are failing. The failure of families is a result of the irresponsibility or negligence of the anchors – fathers – to guard and guide their homes in the fear of the Lord.
You are the head of the family
Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion (your spouse), you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of [divine] appointment.
It is the responsibility of fathers to lead the home in worship, and guide the children through the correct ordinances and principles for life and godliness. You take an active part in establishing family rules and discipline.
As a leader in your home, you plan and sacrifice to achieve the blessing of a unified and happy family. To do all of this requires that you live a family-centred life.
You are a teacher
Joseph F. Smith’s counsel applies even today: “Do not let your children out to specialists …, but teach them by your own precept and example, by your own fireside. Be a specialist yourself in the truth.”
Every father should take the responsibility of being the first learning point for the children, not only in words, but also actions. When you recognize the importance of teaching your children, you become humble, because at once you realize that this is accomplished by precept and example. You cannot be one thing and effectively teach another. You must live and study and pray for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
You are the provider
The father is charged with the responsibility of providing for all the needs of the family. This is a sobering responsibility and the most important one you will ever assume, for it is an eternal responsibility. You place the family in its proper priority. It’s the part of your life that will endure beyond the grave.
No other success in life can compensate for failure in the home. This is a truthful saying. Hence, fathers must rise to the task of protecting the family links. The anchor must be firm so as to keep the boat from drifting into the deep.