Yesterday was Father’s Day, and we heard a powerful message from our interim pastor, Dave Simmons, on the importance of the father’s role in the home. The family is the oldest institution on earth, going all the way back to the creation account in Genesis where we read that God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” so He provided a wife for the first man, Adam, and “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 2:18; 1:28). Thus we have the beginning of families as the basic structure of society, and as goes the health of the family, so goes the health of the society and the nation which it comprises. Note that God created male and female (Gen. 1:27), and provided a wife for Adam. When man starts messing with how God made us and with the family He created, we are playing god and He doesn’t take that lightly and we reap the consequences (see Ro. 1:18-25).
God’s plan was for the father to be the loving leader of his home and to be the provider, protector and priest for his family, being the spiritual pace setter. Unfortunately, when we don’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions (in this case, God’s Word, the Bible), we can’t expect the product to function as it was intended, and we may harm or destroy it. It would appear that is what is happening in our country and world-wide to the family as it is being redefined by man. George Sweeting, past president of Moody Bible Institute, said, “The rate of failure in fatherhood is actually higher than in any other occupation.” As evidence of that, our prisons are full of men who didn’t have a father who lovingly led the family. Another evidence of the impact that a father has on the life of a family is revealed in the results of a survey which showed the probability of a family becoming Christians if one member of the family came to Christ. If a child is the first to be saved, there is a 3.5% chance of the rest of the family coming to Christ. If the first saved is the mother, there is a 17% chance, and if the first to believe is the father, there is a 93% chance that the rest of the family will accept the Gospel and be born again. Wow, that is pretty revealing!
Remember when Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned in Philippi for sharing the Gospel? At midnight they were “praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25). God sent an earthquake to shake the prison and open all the doors and unloose every prisoner’s chains (v. 26). When the jailer, who had been sleeping, saw that, he was “about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do yourself no harm for we are all here!’” (vv. 27,28). When the jailer observed that Paul was right, “he fell down before Paul and Silas and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household’” (vv. 29-31). Now that doesn’t mean that just because the jailer received Christ and was saved that his household members were all automatically saved, for each member of the household must also believe in order to be saved, but it emphasizes the impact of a father who gets saved. The passage in Acts goes on to tell us, “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household” (vv. 32,33). The account shows the influence that a father has on his household.
Having been a pastor for about 40 years, I have observed that the general rule—with a few exceptions—is that “as goes the father, so goes the home.” We have had a number of families where mom brought the children to church and the dad would only come occasionally—if at all. The wife and children would be pretty faithful for a few years when the children were young but usually by the time the children were teenagers, they started following dad’s example, and the mom, discouraged, would soon drop out of church as well. That is a sad story repeated far too often in our nation. General Douglas McArthur, said that he wanted to be remembered, “not for being a great general, but as a Christian father.” May his tribe increase! Do we ever need fathers who see their most important contribution to society as that of a loving, Christian leader of their home, with a balance of toughness and tenderness, setting the example of one who is “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Someone said that “boys follow what men pursue with vigor,” and that is exactly right.
So, a question, especially for you men and fathers: what are you pursuing with vigor? What is the passion in your life? It is hard for your family to go where your are not leading them. They will tend to follow what you are pursuing, what you show them that is most important to you. Our country today is void of good leadership because our homes are void of good fathers as role models. May God raise up a new generation of godly fathers and grandfathers. We aren’t expecting perfect fathers—the only perfect father is our heavenly Father—but we need honest fathers who admit their need to depend on Christ, are willing to admit their mistakes and ask forgiveness and who are headed in the right direction.