There is a story about a father who was filled with pride after his wife called him a “model husband.” That is, he was filled with pride—until he looked in the dictionary and discovered that a “model” is defined as “a small imitation of the real thing.”
Being called a “model father” may be a bit humbling, but it also reminds us that fatherhood really involves seeking to imitate the “real thing.” And the “real thing” in this case is our heavenly Father, who has shown us by word and deed all the qualities that should comprise the earthly task of fathering. That is why Moses asked the people of Israel, “Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?” (Deut. 32:6). If you are a “model father” in the sense that you are a version of our Father in heaven, you deserve to be commended.
What children need to see most in their fathers is an example of spirituality. Ephesians 6:4 commands, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Children need fathers who read the Bible to them, sing with them, and pray with them in their homes. And they need to do more than go along with it. It should be their idea.
Children need fathers who are active in the Lord’s kingdom, whether that means leading in worship, serving as an elder or a deacon, teaching a class, cutting the grass, or just coming to Bible classes and worship.
Fathers, your influence is impossible to calculate. Children are seldom any better than their fathers.
We have an excellent case study of a father’s influence over his children in 1 Kings 22. We read that Jehoshaphat “walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord” (v. 43). On the other hand, Ahaziah, son of Ahab, “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother…He served Baal and worshipped him and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done” (vv. 52-53). Two very different kings. Why were they different? They had two very different fathers.
Charles Swindoll tells the story of four scholars who were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beautiful, eloquent old English. Another said he preferred the American Standard Bible for its literal treatment of the text. A third man preferred a translation called the Moffatt translation because of its quaint, penetrating use of words. After giving the issue further thought, the fourth scholar said, “I have personally always preferred my father’s translation.” When the other scholars chuckled, he responded, “Yes he translated it. He translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I ever saw.”
Fathers, translate the Bible into life for your children. Show them not just by your words but by your deeds what a Christian is. That is the best gift you can give them.