How to Choose Your Father
2 Chronicles 29:1-2
Dr. Jim Denison
A boy was asked what his dad was good for. He had a number of answers:
“A dad is good for putting worms on a hook. He is good for telling your great-aunt you don’t want her to kiss you in public; for helping you with your homework for about two years after your mom gives up; for explaining to your mom why it’s not such a huge crime to tear your pants sliding into second base; for showing you how to tie a tie—when your mom makes you wear one; for letting you run the power mower while your mom is sitting on the porch praying; for telling you the meaning of words you’re too embarrassed to ask your mom about; for carrying you when you are tired and your mom won’t stop shopping; for driving you where you want to go, especially if you can teach him not to talk much after you’re thirteen and your friends are in the car.”
Apparently dads are good for many things. That’s why our nation celebrates Father’s Day every year, and why our church does as well. And we should.
Fathers have the enormous privilege and responsibility of modeling God to our children. A father is the pastor of his family, their spiritual shepherd and leader. I want to help us fulfill this calling well.
But I also want to talk with those whose fathers were not spiritual leaders in their home. If this is your experience, I want to help you. Jesus was the only child to choose his father physically. But you can choose your father spiritually.
So let’s learn how to be godly fathers, and how to choose them.
How to be a spiritual father
Fathers are more involved in our children’s lives than we were a generation ago.
62% of us put our kids to bed, compared with 16% in the previous generation; 52% attend sporting events, up from 37%; 49% read to our kids, up from 14%; 25% do housework, up from 8%; 44% help with dishes, up from 16%.
But women are still far more likely to attend church services each week than we are. And they are 20% more likely to give serious attention to their faith than we are.
What kind of spiritual model do we need to give our children and families? What does God expect of a spiritual father and leader? His word is clear. Let me show you what we teach our new and prospective members every month—what God expects of a fully developing follower of Jesus Christ.
First and foremost, a follower of Jesus worships God.
Jesus told us that God expects us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37). We love God when we worship him—with other Christians, and personally each day.
Men, our children will value worship as we do. Are you here every week you can be? Do you sing as we sing to God, or do you stand in silence? Do you pray to him, or listen as others do it for you? Do you study his word with us or merely sit through the sermon?
Do you worship God personally every day? Does your family know that you do? Would God want your kids to worship him as you do?
Second, a follower of Jesus lives by God’s word.
God says of his word, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We are to know God’s word, and to live by it. James was blunt: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
And Jesus was conclusive: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love” (John 15:10). Jesus expects us to know his word, and to obey it.
Men, do you study God’s word every day? Do you make your decisions at home and at work in light of its truth? Is your daily lifestyle consistent with its teachings? Do you teach God’s word to your family? Would God want your kids to live by his word as you do?
Third, a follower of Jesus contributes to God’s work.
We are to use our spiritual gifts and abilities for God: “Each man should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). We are each part of the body of Christ—some a hand, others a foot, others an eye, others an ear (cf. 1 Corinthians 12). Each part is essential to our health and God’s purpose for our church. Every one of us must contribute out of the spiritual gifts and abilities God has given to us.
And we are to contribute financially to God’s work as well. God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house” (Malachi 3:10). Ten percent of our income returned to God is his standard for us.
This is the way God meets the needs of our suffering world, and blesses us along the way. Proverbs 28:27 is worth contemplating: “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.” Give to the needs of our community and world by giving to God through his church.
We are to give, not as though we are paying a bill but in gratitude for God’s grace to us: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Do you give generously, sacrificially, regularly to God’s work through your church? Does your family know of your contribution to God’s kingdom? Would God want your kids to give to him as you do?