No dad fails on purpose. No one ever starts fatherhood with the intention of being a mediocre parent. Many of our bad habits as parents begin because we are not being intentional with our children. An intentional father is one who is purposefully engaged in discipling our children, makes it a priority to set goals for the family, and actively seeks out ways to meet those goals.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).”
Such simple and powerful words given to us fathers by God…and yet how many of us dads can honestly say we are leading our families well, in an intentional way as laid out in the Bible? Our children need a father who loves them deeply and is willing to pour into them.
Words like “intentional” and “disciple” are thrown around so often, but how can we apply them in our role as dad? As mentioned earlier, an intentional father is one who is purposefully engaged in discipling our children, makes it a priority to set goals for the family, and actively seeks out ways to meet those goals. So many times, our parenting is reactive instead of proactive. We often find ourselves just trying to get through the day. But God has given us dads a unique role of being the spiritual leader of our household. This can seem overwhelming to most of us, and the fear of failure can push us into complacency. We all want to be better fathers, but many of us lack the tools to understand how to actually become a confident leader in the home.
Christ has more to offer our children and we are called to deliver His Message to our children. Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 says, “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons (and daughters) and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Here is the bar, this is what God asks of us; this does not happen by accident.
Too often we rely on the schools, church, or sports teams to train our kids. But only we can be our children’s father. No one else can fill this role in their life! God gives us all the direction we need in the Bible, but it's easy to struggle with practical application. Our culture is flooded with resources like books, podcasts, and conferences. While these are all beneficial, there is nothing like a small group of people who can encourage one another to take the next step in their walk with Christ and in their role as spiritual leader. We are called to come alongside each other.
Proverbs 27:17 discusses the benefit of meeting together, “Just as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We become better parents when we have others to keep us accountable, to bounce ideas off of, and to encourage each other's walk with Christ. The goal is to equip and encourage men to step up as spiritual leaders, and then to pour into other men in our community, hopefully beginning with our own families first.
One of the most effective ways to learn is by encouraging and sharing with other men who are going through the same challenges and struggles. This is known as discipleship, or doing life together. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gives us these clear instructions, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” Through discipleship we can share our successes and failures with each other.
If you are not already doing life together with another dad or better yet, meeting with someone who is at least a step or two ahead of where you are, seek that out--it has done wonderful things for our families. Start by asking your church, other dads you’d like to bounce ideas off of, Godly older men in your life or even your parents' Christian friends. Keep checking back to this blog in the future for more dad-specific articles and resources.