*this post is an annotated outline of the Sunday morning sermon from 6/16/2019
THE JOYS OF FATHERHOOD
One of the greatest joys of my life is being a dad. In fact, I’d never thought much about the joy that would be made possible once that day arrived, but understand it well having now been blessed with three children. As father’s day has been drawing near, I’ve been thinking about the joy of being a father and, in addition, how being a father makes me a better version of myself.
Our society has in many ways attempted to diminish the vitally important role of the father within the home. Family sitcoms and movies have done well in their desire of typifying the overworked father who comes home and wants only to grab a beer and lay on the couch to the neglect of their family. This paints men as selfish, uncaring, and incapable leaders of their home.
Additionally, due to changings social norms of the family unit, the role of men has been quieted as something unnecessary and even chauvinistic by those who would reject biblical teachings about God’s design for the family. In many respects, the breakdown of the family and the neglect of many fathers to step into their God-ordained roles has been one of the major destabilizers of our time.
However, if you go to any baseball field on a Saturday morning or school play during the week, you will see that many dads are very committed to their role as a father and find a sense of purpose in loving and caring for their family. This is good in the sight of God.
The Bible teaches that a man who is privileged to have a family and children to care for is blessed. So, this morning, I want us to consider the joys of fatherhood and their implications for fathers. (current/think of yours/young people future/expectations)
consider Psalm 127:1-5
So, it tells us that “children are a gift from the Lord” and that “the man who has a man who has a quiver full of them is blessed.” The word ‘quiver’ speaks of the satchel type of bag that holds a warrior’s arrows. This implies that being a father is a blessing. There is joy for those who have children. Men should not only desire to be father’s, but take up the calling of what it means to father well with joy!
That, however, doesn’t mean that being a father is easy. It’s been said before that nothing worth having comes easy and that anything worth doing requires much of a person. The same is true when it comes to parenting. Both mothers and fathers know that while having children is an extreme joy to their lives, it is not easy. In fact, raising children may be one of the most difficult things a person can do. Whether it be fear or selfishness, perhaps this is why many have little desire to have children and even do all they can to avoid it.
With fatherhood comes the furtherance of manhood. It requires one to leave behind the kind of perpetual adolescence that avoids the courageous ‘oughtness’ of being a mature man.
*So, what are the joys of fatherhood? What ought a man to be like? In what ways does all of the straining, serving, working, and giving worth it in the long run. Let me present a few of the reasons why being a father is a great joy…
1. Being a father makes you love deeply
All people are called to love others. And this is true because it is to imitate God to do so. In a sense, God loves all people; yet, He does not love them all in the same manner. God has a benevolent love for all of creation. However, God has a special type of love for His chosen children of the faith (Gen.12, Rom.8:31-38). While believers may be called to love all people, they have a special and deep abiding loving affection for their children that is unlike any other form of love.
In many respects, becoming a father better helps one to understand God. It aids us in our understanding of the stories of Abraham and Isaac, and the painstaking reality of the gospel in which God displayed His love for His own through the execution of His beloved Son. What better display of love could be given? Fatherhood is a picture of the gospel.
Any compassionate father would instantly put their life on the line and if need be, give their life for the sake of those they cherish most. Fatherhood calls us to a type of love that cannot be expressed in mere words. This love, as given to us by our Heavenly Father, brings us joy as we both love in ways we didn’t know possible and are loved by those who receive our love.
2. Being a father makes you work hard
It’s interesting to point out that God created man and had him to work prior to the fall. Many have bought into the idea that work is the worst thing we can do and should be avoided at all cost; but the Bible actually speaks of work as a blessing. Many countries are filled with people who would give anything to have the ability to work and provide for their families. To be able to provide is to be blessed.
There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him? - Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 NASB
This, of course, does not mean that men will always feel like working or see the beauty of it (though we should). It does not mean that their labor will not at times be burdensome or strenuous – which is in some forms the result of the fall.
Now, with that said, we must beware of the trap that many fall into by thinking that their work and financial stability is what makes them a good father. While we certainly shouldn’t feel bad about working hard or making money; we must never view providing luxury for our children as our primary goals.
· Psalm 127:1-2 “unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”V. 2 goes on to tell of the futility of pursuing riches if one is neglecting their more pressing callings in life.
As a man steps into his God-ordained role to work, he experiences the blessing and joy of work as a means to an end to glorify God in providing for his family. In doing so, he finds the joy of vocation and a good day of labor for the sake of others.
3. Being a father makes you pray purposefully
From the moment that a father finds out that he’s going to be a father he’s driven to a new sense of dependence and neediness of God.
Our third core value as a church family is that we believe in the power of prayer. So, father’s must understand their role as those who go before God on behalf of their families. Fathers should lead their family in prayer. There should be regular times in the life of the children in which the father models for them the reality that we need God and must intentionally speak to Him.
Let your children know you to be a praying man. You may not be a world renown spiritual leader, you may not be able to afford all of the nicer things in life, you may not be able to take extravagant vacations every year – but none of that will matter in the grand scheme of things if your child doesn’t know who God is. The best gift a father can give a child is not a trust fund, or a comfy life, but to model for them what it means to walk with Jesus.
4. Being a father makes you lead intentionally
Because God has designed the family in such a way that the man is to lead (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 5:22-33, 6:4), it forces the father to step into a role of leadership. Because of the fall, man often experiences difficulty stepping into their God-ordained role as a spiritual leader (Gen. 3). Yet, the calling to lead requires a man to step into this role as their family and the watching world looks to them to do so.
And in this calling, many men stumble. Perhaps because they did not see it modeled themselves, or perhaps they’ve grown up without a father themselves, or for some other reason – many men do not step into their God-given role to lead their families spiritually; and the results of this are catastrophic!
· 1 Cor. 16:13 “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
5. Being a father makes you follow closely
This is where the rubber meets the road; because it is this reality that sets the others into motion. It is this necessity that digs the fertile soil by which a man can be a man. Because the truth is, those other things we’ve mentioned are simply the outworking of this. You can’t lead unless you learn to follow. You can’t be strong unless you first realize you are weak. You can’t love until you first experience true love. In order for a man to lead, he must first learn to follow the greatest man to ever live.
If you want to be a loving father, follow the Savior of love; if you want to be a hardworking farther, follow Jesus; if you want to be a praying dad, follow Jesus; if you want to lead and lead well – follow THE Leader.
It was Christ who exposed the greatest form of love; it was Christ’ work on the cross that was the greatest day’s labor for His family ever had; it was Christ’ priestly prayer that marked the believer’s salvation; and it was Christ example of leading that shows us how to lead in His steps.
Jesus invites all people to follow Him, and only as we do that - can we hope to truly lead and love others faithfully.