We recently cut a podcast episode about an indispensable church and discussed the question, “If your church disappeared today, would anyone in your community notice?” In this sermon preached on Father’s Day, Josh talks about a similar concept for fathers in a time of seismic change in our society.
Big Idea: On your children’s graduation day, on their wedding day and on your dying day, will your kids see you as the foundation of their spiritual strength and general success in life?
According to the National Center of Fathering, of students in grades 1 through 12, 39 percent (17.7 million) live in homes absent their biological fathers. According to 72.2 % of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America.
The concept of the “baby daddy”–that fatherhood is more about the donation of DNA than the construction of character–spells big problems for our society.
C.S.Lewis quote: “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”
So, in quickly changing times, how can fathers be indispensable, irreplaceable? How can they be the fathers that God intended us to be? Here are three key characteristics of such a father:
#1 A Mighty Man (Psalm 127:4)
Scripture references “mighty men” in the context of David’s warriors (I Sam 23) and states that children are like arrows in the hands of a mighty man (Psalm 127:4). Though stereotypes of masculine strength differ, the Gaston figure in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (in the classic and newly released motion picture) is the picture of a self-reliant, brutish, proud person. That is not what Scripture is talking about. The difference between a Gaston-like man and a Godly man is the source of his strength (Psalm 18:1). Though our culture tells us to look inside ourselves to find reservoirs of courage and inspiration, Christ tells us to look outside ourselves to find strength in Him (John 15:5).
Summary: A mighty man finds in his Heavenly father a source of supernatural strength and uses that strength to succeed in his role as a father.
#2 A Mystery Man (Psalm 8:1)
Life can be difficult and punishing many days. In between work, family and church responsibilities, we can find ourselves disillusioned and even frustrated with life. In Psalm 8, David considers the vastness and beauty of the universe and states that “out of the mouth of babes” God has ordained strength. Children remind us about the concept of wonder-that we live in an amazing world and that we are truly blessed by awe-inspiring God. Josh recounts a recent story of his five-year old daughter, Aryana, wading into the deeper waves at the beach (with his assistance, of course) for the first time. Children have a way of reminding us about wonder, and we need to encourage/direct that sense of adventure and worship in our kids.
Summary: A mystery man kindles the sense of wonder in his life so that he can face with purpose and perseverance the grind of everyday life.
#3 An Immortal Man (Psalm 127:5)
The latter part of Psalm 127:5 states the following: “they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Who are the “they” in this verse? The children of the mighty man. The gate in ancient Israel was the center of law and justice (see Ruth 4:1). One might think that the “mighty man” would be the one speaking with the enemy in the gate, but that is not the point of the Psalm. Rather, the point is this: if the father has raised his children properly, they will be prepared to stand for that which true, right and beautiful.
Our greatest accomplishment may not be the companies/ministries we found, the speeches we make, or the titles we accrue. Rather, our greatest accomplishment in life might just be the person or persons we raise. We should be mindful of our brief time on the planet and think of the next generation.
Quote from Steve Jobs: “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
Summary: Immortal men intentionally prepare the next generation to champion truth in a time they will never see.
So, on your children’s graduation day, on their wedding day and on your dying day, will your kids see you as the foundation of their spiritual strength and general success in life?