BY CAROLYN TOMLIN
Biblical Guidelines for Fathers
The origin of a day to honor our fathers is uncertain. Many credit Ms. Sonora Louise Smart Dodd of Washington with creating a day to honor fathers. After hearing a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, she realized a day should be set aside to honor fathers. Ms. Dodd wanted to express to her father her love for raising a newborn after his young wife died in childbirth, and five other siblings. A Civil War veteran, Mr. William Jackson Smart dedicated his life to providing love and care to his family.
In the early 1900s, states and organizations began lobbying Congress to set aside an annual day to honor fathers in America. President Woodrow Wilson approved of the idea in 1916, but it didn’t come to pass until 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge made this proclamation: “To establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations.” Since that date, the third Sunday in June has been designated as Father’s Day.
Although only one day is set aside for this honor, we pay tribute throughout life to the man who taught countless lessons.
The Bible is the Christian family’s guide for parenting. This book never goes out of style and continues to provide knowledge for parents. Look at the following family situations and the related Scripture. How can fathers apply this wisdom as they lead their children in life?
As I watched an eight-year-old boy playing baseball, I noticed how tense he appeared as he swung at the ball. “Strike three—you’re out!” yelled the umpire. But that wasn’t the hard part—the difficult time would come later— after the game and on the way home. Again he would have to hear the lecture of how he had embarrassed his father and let his family down. Listen to what Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
“I get to do whatever I want,” said Will, a fourteen-year-old. “My parents never tell me ‘No’ and I stay out until I’m ready to come home.” Children who have not been taught responsibility can’t be expected to make mature decisions. How unfortunate for this youth that someone has not set ground rules. There will come a time when someone will provide discipline—perhaps in the courts of law or other agencies. Because fathers love their children—they discipline. Discipline should come in talking through the problem and listening with the heart as well as the head. Proverbs 3:11-12 says, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
It was no secret—in fact, everyone in the small town knew about the drug problems of a popular teen’s father. “When he tells me I should not experiment with drugs, his words carry little meaning. After all, he’s been arrested several times and I’ve seen him buying drugs on the street.” Proverbs 20:7 reads, “The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him.”
Anna, age 10, found a woman’s purse lying on the street near her home. Opening it, she discovered four twenty-dollar bills. “For a moment, I thought about keeping the money and never saying anything,” said Anna. “But I realized that wasn’t being honest. My parents taught me to tell the truth.” Fortunately, identification in the purse returned it to the rightful owner. “Being able to return an object that was lost gave me a wonderful feeling.” Proverbs 23:15 says, “My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.”
Pedro and his mother watched as his father received a community award for leadership. “Everyone clapped for my dad,” said Pedro. “The president of the organization said many nice things about my father. That he was a man or honor, that he was loved by the community, that he had served his fellow man in many capacities. This was not the man I knew as he doesn’t act this way at home.” 1 Corinthians 13:13, reads, “And now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Being the father God intended requires time, patience, and wisdom. We teach both the good—and not so good—lessons. Being a parent is one of the greatest responsibilities fathers and mothers face. Ask God to bless you as you teach lessons about life and living to your children.
Carolyn Tomlin writes for numerous Christian publications. She is the co-teacher of Boot Camp for Christian Writers. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.