For men who have or had a good father, one of the greatest compliments they can receive is, “You’re just like your father.”
Fathers have a great responsibility. The world we live in tomorrow will be what we teach our children today. But to be good fathers, we must first follow our Heavenly Father and His Word.
In First Thessalonians 2:7–12, the Apostle Paul spoke to the Thessalonian Church as a spiritual father.
1 THESSALONIANS 2:7–12 (NIV 1984)
7 . . . we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.
8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.
9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.
10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.
11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,
12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
If fathers want their children to have a strong work ethic, they must first model a strong work ethic for them.
We can see in these verses five attributes of a good father that all fathers can emulate.
- The Ability to Express Genuine Love
In verse 8 the Apostle Paul said, “We loved you so much.” In the original language, those words express an intense love that gives over and over again.
For fathers, consistently expressing love and affection to their children is vital. Expressing love usually doesn’t come naturally to men. I believe that’s why the Bible constantly tells husbands, “Love your wife.”
The story of the prodigal son is one of the best examples of a father’s love and care for his child. (See Luke chapter 15.) When the lost son returned home, the father didn’t hold back in expressing his love.
It’s important for a father to reassure his children that no matter how far they may wander, he will always be there with open arms to welcome them back, care for them, and love them.
- A Transparent Life
Paul went on to say, “We were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (v. 8). Paul shared the Good News with the Thessalonians, but he also modeled it with his life. It’s one thing to preach the Gospel, but it’s another to live it! A godly father’s life—his decisions and values—should demonstrate to his children that he is a Christian.
Fathers need to be transparent with their children. A child should see their father as more than just an authority figure or a money person. When he is wrong, a good father has the courage to admit his mistakes and ask his children for forgiveness. Not only will they see their dad as someone who is real, but they will develop the same forgiving attitude. And instead of the father losing his position of authority, he will enhance it.
Once when my son, Craig, was a teenager, I wrongly jumped to a conclusion about an incident I thought he had been involved in, and I grounded him. I later found out there was a lot more to the story than I had been told. I went to him and admitted my mistake, and I asked him to forgive me.
The example a father sets—from the way he handles stress and finances to the humor and joy he exudes—will be imitated by his children.
- Unselfish Diligence
It is a father’s responsibility to teach his children a strong work ethic. Paul said, “You remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (v. 9).
If fathers want their children to have a strong work ethic, they must first model a strong work ethic for them. It’s been said that kids who learn a good work ethic grow up to be healthier and happier than their less prepared counterparts.
Fathers can also teach children a strong work ethic by giving them chores and responsibilities from an early age. Let them learn by doing, and give them the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.
- Spiritually Genuine
The Thessalonians saw how Paul lived. Paul said, “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed” (v. 10). The believers in Thessalonica saw that Paul’s actions lined up with his preaching. In other words, his faith was genuine.
It is absolutely essential for children to see that their father’s faith is genuine—that his devotion to the Lord is true. Kids are observant. They’ll notice if their dad carries his Bible to church on Sunday but never opens it during the week.
A father’s worship and prayer life must be more than Sunday morning lip service. They must be demonstrated daily in the home for his children to see.
Whether they realize it or not, fathers are the spiritual leaders of their families. It is their responsibility to lead their families closer to the Lord. Fathers who fail to live a life of genuine faith—saying one thing but doing another—will lead their families away from God.
- A Positive Influence
Speaking as a spiritual father to the Thessalonians, Paul said, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God” (vv. 11–12).
A good father encourages and comforts his children and urges them to live worthy lives for God. He speaks to his children in a positive manner.
I once read that for every positive word most dads say to their children, they say 10 negative ones. Many times dads are good at telling their kids, “no,” “don’t,” “you can’t,” or “stop that.” A good father understands that his words have great influence, and he uses them in a positive way to discipline, encourage, and inspire his children.
Being a father is a great responsibility. It is one of the most important and challenging things a man can do! If you’re a father, practice these traits to the best of your ability, and ask the Lord for the strength and wisdom to be a good father.
Kenneth W. Hagin
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