Being the dad of three teenagers, a kindergartener, a toddler and an infant is one of the most joyous pursuits I have ever experienced. Now I use the word joyous because, quite frankly, the pursuit does not always bring happiness. There are some pretty hard times that I have experienced as a dad and most of the difficult times involve boundaries. As a dad, I have to set certain boundaries on how far joking around with the teenagers can go. I have to draw lines on what the kindergartener gets to watch on television, and I have to marshall the conduct of my two year old while juggling a binkie for my infant. Let’s just say I have much more respect for my wife the longer I am a father.
As a dad, I want to be a good father to my kids. Of course I work and bring home the money that we need to run the household. I am grateful to God that He has given me the opportunity to provide for my family the way he has. But more than just being a provider, I try to be involved in the lives of my kids. It is growing more and more difficult with my older kids, as there is that kind of akwardness when a parent shows any form of affection.
And so my question for the LORD is how do I become the perfect father?
Well I could read one of hundreds of books on parenting children. I have several on my shelf thatI have yet to get to. Or I could do what I know is the right thing and go to the Word of God for the answer.
I have a strong suspicion that I will find that perfection in fatherhood is a title that can only belong to a Perfect Father, but I also think that if I were to begin to imitate the Perfect Father, that I might become a better father than I ever hoped to be. So, to find out what a perfect father looks like, let’s look at some of the qualifications of a perfect father.
Ephesians 6:4 warns the father not provoke his children to wrath but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD. The word for wrath here is the Greek word “parorgizĹŤ” and it meansÂ to rouse to wrath, to provoke, exasperate, or anger. As a father it seems that it does not take much. For example, if you just mention homework or chores you would think you had provoked a sleeping lion. But kids need these kinds of responsibilities and while their response to homework or chores may be one of disdain, I have to assure myself that I am not provoking my children to wrath. Instead, what I am doing is called “paideia” which is the Greek word for nurture. My role as a dad should be to nurture my children so that they will exhibit the appropriate behavior in light of who Jesus Christ is.
Proverbs 22:6 is a reminder that my role as a father is to train my children up in the way that they should go. When I stand before my Father in Heaven and give an account for what I did in my role as a dad, I want the LORD to be pleased with what I have done in training up my kids. I think the key to being the perfect father is to emulate the perfect father with regard to the training of His children. My kids are my primary ministry next to my wife, and my role is to simply disciple them. To teach them the Word of God in a way that they can understand, according to their bent. The idea here is that as a father I must teach my children in a way that they can understand.
There are so many verses that I could cover about being a good father, but in order for me to be the perfect father for my children then I must model the Pefect Father in the way that I treat my children. The same compassion that the Father shows me, I should model before my children. The same way the LORD is longsuffering towards me, I should model before my children. In short, if I want to be the perfect father, I must imitate the Perfect Father. I should be the mirror image of Jesus with regard to every aspect of my life and certainly in the area of fatherhood.
So, when my daughter blows a fuse because of hormones, or my son’s feel that X-box is more important than trash duty, Â or my kindergartener loses it over the order of operations that we employ during our bedtime routine, or if my toddler can’t understand why she can’t have a can of Coke after she brushes her teeth for bed, that I don’t have to be the perfect father, but instead, I should be the best father that the Perfect Father has made. By imitating Jesus I can rest with full confidence that I am the best father, the perfect father for my children. Jesus paired me up with each of these kids because He knew that I would be the perfect father for them to meet their spiritual needs, and I also believe that He paired me up with the perfect kids to bring me closer to Him. Now am I the perfect dad? Certainly not. Are my kids the perfect kids? Ummmm No. But are we perfect for each other. Absolutely.