We were discussing what makes a Christian Dad - as opposed to a basically 'good' dad. We got ourselves in a proper knot thinking about the qualities of a good dad (like reliable, loving, patient, a role model, teacher, protector etc...) especially when we realised that all of these words could be applied to good mothers too.
That of course is a issue of modern times - when the biblical concept of fatherhood has been replaced by a new (and mostly very helpful) understanding of equality between genders. But I sometimes wonder if we have thrown the baby out with the bathwater...
The Bible is quite clear about the relationship between husbands and wives. Ephesians 5:21 and following talks about the need for submission to one another. Wives are called to 'submit' to their husbands - modeling that submission on that of the church to the authority of Christ. On the other hand, husbands all called to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her - in other words, a complete and sacrificial love which places the needs of his wife above his own.
(For an extended discussion of Paul's attitude to women, please click on the following link - which will take you to notes and slides of a seminar I once delivered on the subject: Click here )
As for the unique qualities of a Christian Dad - what are we to say? There are, of course great dads who are not Christians, and bad ones who are. So specifically, what should we look for in the qualities of a great Christian dad. Here are some suggestions:
- He will be someone who prays for his children, and his family.
- He will be someone who specifically exhibits the fruit of the Spirit in his dealings with them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (see Galations 5). He will demonstrate by his example the joy of following Christ.
- As the Christian part of being the role-model that all dads are called to, he will be a regular bible reader, and attendee at church, and encourage his children to do the same.
- Employing the fruit of the Spirit, he will patiently pray for his teenagers when they (almost inevitably) rebel against church, and faithfully trust that God will call them back (remembering, of course, that faith is a gift from God, not something we manufacture ourselves - Ephesians 2:8)
- Finally - he will fail, often, to live up to these high ideals. But he will trust in God's forgiveness and keep on 'pressing towards the prize'. (1 Cor 9:24)
Finally, here's an interesting statistic, thanks to Kevin Price who led our excellent discussion on Friday:
The Christian Business Men's Committee found the following: When the father is an active believer, there is about seventy-five percent likelihood that the children will also become active believers. But if only the mother is a believer, this likelihood is dramatically reduced to fifteen percent. (Incidentally, according to Christian Vision for Men, if a child is an active believer, there is only around 3% chance of the rest of the family following.) Thought provoking eh?