Dad’s make a difference. This should come as no surprise to you. Yet year after year, money is spent and studies are conducted, and the social science research overwhelmingly concludes that children need their fathers.
Yes, children need their fathers, and the difference they make, but this alone won’t do. Scripture teaches that what children truly need are godly fathers. Children need a dad who graciously nurtures them in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). They need men who know Christ and live to make Him known. Men who stand wholly convicted of God’s holy Word and live the whole of their lives in a pursuit personal of holiness.
Children need godly fathers who plead with them as Solomon did in Proverbs 23:26, “Give me your heart…and let your eyes delight in my ways.”
This passionate plea requires two qualities of a godly father- audacity and integrity.
A father who will lead his children in the ways of Christ needs to be a man of audacity. He needs to have the gall and the guts to look his little ones in the eye and tenderly demand, “give me your heart!” He knows the heart is the key to everything. The heart is the entire inner person- thinking, feeling, willing. It’s our “mission control center.” A father’s call for his child’s heart is to call for their attention and their allegiance. This is a bold call.
To give the heart is to entrust it to the one who will direct it through teaching. Rather than being a father who is unaware of his children’s needs or a father who is unclear in his expectations for his children, a godly father boldly instructs and corrects by God’s wisdom in order to lead them to know his God. He has this as his aim. Richard Phillips says, “A wise father wants to reach his child’s heart, aiming for the willing offering of that heart both to himself as earthly father and to God as heavenly Father.”
The father must have free reign with his child before any impact can be made. In order to do this, he must have the children’s hearts in his hands. The godly father gains the heart of his children by humbly leading them with audacity. He knows God and he has something to say. He bravely pleads with his children, “give me your heart”.
A father who will lead his children in the ways of Christ also needs to be a man of integrity. A godly father gains the allegiance of his offspring and then urges them, “let your eyes delight in my ways.” He believes that his words should always backed up with his ways. John Kitchen explains, “A wise father not only tells his son the correct path to walk, but goes before him, demonstrating by his consistent conduct what such instruction looks like in the daily path of life.”
A godly father lives a life that is worth giving attention. The hearts he holds in his hands are too valuable to violate, too dear to devastate, through hypocrisy and impurity. So, his patterns are faithful, upright, and humble. His speech is peaceable, sincere, and edifying. He offers his ways as an example to be watched, desired, and followed. He prays that his children see the benefits of following Christ in the path of righteousness and may long for it themselves. Little eyes are always watching so the upright father aims to lead by his light. He provides the pattern then makes his plea, “delight in my ways.”
Dad, you make a difference. But you need to be a man with your children’s hearts in your hands. You gain them by audacity and keep them by your integrity. So, tell your children, “give me your heart”, then show them how to follow Jesus Christ. That will be the most important difference you make of all.