Many countries recently celebrated Father’s Day this past June 18th. Fathers from all walks of life were thanked, honored and celebrated for the important role they have in the family – that of being a Dad.
The role of the father is very crucial, whether we care to admit it or not. We cannot reiterate enough how important he is to the home and to the children. This role is so crucial that many of society’s problems can be traced back to a dysfunctional family that is, almost always, perpetuated by fatherlessness. The fatherlessness problem is wrecking havoc in the society around us.
Fatherlessness is not simply about physically absent fathers, but more about uninvolved fathers. Yes, the fathers who are always physically present but are emotionally absent for their kids.
Fathers: Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
It has to be said because as pastors, you will often find yourselves too busy with ministry that you may forget your primary role. You may forget that you are a father, first and foremost.
And then there are people who look up to pastors, and therefore it is crucial that they set the standard for others to follow and be the model for others to look at. Because of the scarcity of fathers, other men have virtually no role model to follow! Be that role model.
But how? How can one become a role model as a father?
Before a man can become a good father, he must first be a good man.
I am not simply talking about the existence of males but the existence of good men – males who exemplify the design and calling of God in their lives, and therefore become true image-bearers of God the Father.
An insecure man is an insecure father.
A stable man is a stable father.
An evil man, an evil father.
A good man, a good father.
How can we become a good man? David, a man after God’s own heart, lived by three things which are summed up in 1 Chronicles 29:17. Since I know, O my God, thatYou try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy, I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You. (NASB)
1. LEAD WITH A RIGHT HEART
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 (KJV)
A good father leads his family with a right heart. For David, this was the only thing that mattered. Take a look at the next verses (v.18-19) where he continues to emphasize the importance of the “heart” for his people and for his son, Solomon. Nothing matters more than the matters of one’s own heart, because more than anything else, whether it is an offense or a victory, “…God looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
A heart right with God is quick to acknowledge weakness and faults with remorse.
A heart right with God is not a saint, but a person who wrestles and struggles with his sin, even if it means every day – not giving in to it.
A heart right with God aims to correct the wrong.
A heart right with God aims to solely please God and do His will.
David was a great king, but he was also a humble man. That is why he was able to lead with a right heart – it was tuned to God. This is why David is known as A MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART.
Fathers, you may not be leading a kingdom, but you are leading a home, which in my opinion is much more important that any kingdom on earth.
So, lead. And lead with a right heart
“The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.” Proverbs 20:7 (NLT)
A good father is a man of integrity. Integrity is hard to find nowadays, even in the church, and so the more we need to uphold it. Integrity is “The quality of having moral uprightness, being honest and having strong moral principles.”
We have already seen how important it was for David to always be right with God. And it is this desire to be right with God that fuels his desire to strive for moral uprightness. While he has had moments of moral decline in his life, it is his heart that pushes him to continue on to live in integrity, despite his weaknesses. When David does something wrong, as soon as he is brought to the recognition that what he did was a sin against YHWH, he always moves in the direction of making things right.
We all have weaknesses but we cannot keep on using our weaknesses as an excuse for our failures, or as a means of avoiding responsibilities, whether in parenting, in ministry or in life.
Fathers, having integrity is very much connected with the right heart. Only with a right heart can a man truly live with integrity. Without the right heart, it will be a life full of pretense and self-serving motives. Integrity means living according to right morals – God’s moral standards with no compromise. There is no true integrity without God’s morals instilled in us.
“A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children.” Proverbs 13:22 (NIV)
A legacy is not about monetary inheritance and material wealth but is more about leaving a spiritual legacy. The role of the father is to plant acorns to grow mighty oak trees. It is more important to leave a spiritual legacy than a financial or material one.
Leaving a legacy, as well as leading with a right heart and living with integrity is not an accidental act. It is an intentional task. Even legacies of wealth take years to build. Every day, you plant a seed that builds your legacy.
If you lead with a right heart and live with integrity, the result will be a legacy that you can truly praise God for and rejoice in. David, in v. 17 is seeing the result of his efforts to live a life of integrity. The people of Israel are able to willingly offer to God and to their king, their resources, their lives, their everything for the building of the temple because they have seen the heart and life of their king and he has been a model to them.
And a final reminder to fathers in pastoral ministry. No amount of success in ministry will make up for whatever you have lacked in being a father. I realize that as pastors (and even as fathers), you want to be significant in everything that you do. You want to make sure to leave a significant mark that will impact your ministry and if possible, your world. While this is a noble desire, and yes, God desires that we, as his image bearers indeed make an impact in this world, we have to remember this:
“We don’t determine our own significance. That’s God’s prerogative. We are only called to be faithful and fruitful. “ (Ramesh Richard)
Fathers, more than anything else, lead with a right heart and live in uprightness (integrity), and in doing so you will surely leave a legacy to your children and your children’s children.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Tan, from the Philippines, is a pastor’s wife, a pastor’s kid, a counselor, professional editor (for both academic and popular writing), resource speaker, writer, and blogger. Her passion is to minister to women (pastor’s wives in particular), couples and families.
Donna’s ministry experiences span ages and cultures; having led youth and women ministries in the Philippines, as well as women ministries in the US (as a leader with Trinity Wives Fellowship from 2010-2012, in Deerfield, IL). Donna is married to Dr. Jason Richard Tan (Ph.D.), and they have two children – Joshua (16) and Elisha (11). They have been married for 18 years. Jason and Donna are missionaries under GlobalGrace Fellowship (based in Pasadena, CA) serving the Philippines and Asia. She is the Admin Director of Great Commission Missionary Training Center. She is also a writer, professional editor, and blogger. You can connect with Donna through her blog TonesOfHope.blogspot.com