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Fatherly Love

By Dan Alger

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day provide us the opportunity to honor our parents, but also to reflect on parenting itself. I’m a father of two young boys, ages 4 and 6,and I know how difficult it is. I mean, I sometimes question why I’m allowed to drive, much less be responsible for the health and flourishing of two young lives.

To be honest, in many ways I don’t want them to turn out like me. I’ve got a lot of junk. And, although my parents were wonderful, they were pretty screwed up too, so I can’t look to them as the primary standard of parenting. My friends all have strong opinions and shelves that are filled with books and magazines on the subject, but they and their opinions are all different and, often times, conflicting. Your situation is probably the same as mine.

So, who do we listen to? If we can’t look solely to our own wisdom or the example of those who parented us, or our friends, or the multi-billion dollar parenting industry, where do we turn for guidance, for a mentor, for hope?

This is why it is so amazing that God has revealed himself as our “Father.” He is not a distant and unknowable deity, he is our Father and he desires a relationship with us — his often unruly and disobedient children. So, if we want to know how to be good parents ourselves, we should look at the ideal Father — God — and with all our effort and his help, strive to raise our children the way he raises us:

He loves us.

God is pure love and he loves us deeply and passionately. Before anything else, it is selfless love that must govern all of our actions in parenting.

He has grace with us.

God’s love is not dependent upon our behavior or achievements — it is based on our relationship with him through his son. Our kids will fail, they will not listen, they will misbehave and make mistakes. We must have grace with our children and not always treat them as they deserve.

He disciplines us.

God has grace, but he does not let us live in destructive behaviors without repercussions. The Bible tells us that “God disciplines those he loves” and, although it is not pleasant at the time, it is for our own good. We must love our children enough to stop them from attitudes and actions that hurt themselves or others. If we love them, we must discipline them, even though it hurts all of us.

He guides us.

God’s Word teaches us what is right and wrong, and we must do so for our children, as well. Don’t underestimate the other influences that war for their souls. Our kids don’t just need punishment for what they do wrong and reward for what they do right, they need to be taught how to tell the difference. The Bible calls this wisdom.

He puts us in our proper place.

God lets us know how much we are cherished and how much he longs for our joy, but he always reminds us that he is God and we are not. We should nurture the awe and wonder of our kids and encourage them to explore the wide-open possibilities for their lives, but remind them that they will always find true joy when they live under the guidance and wisdom of God.

Parents, you are not alone in this awesome responsibility. There is grace and guidance for you. Turn to your Father to learn how to be a parent, and let him love on you, as well.