Many years ago, I came across a short poem that every father should take to heart. It is entitled, “A Little Fellow Follows Me.” The words of the poem are:
A careful man I want to be, a little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray, for fear he’ll go the selfsame way.
I cannot once escape his eyes, whate’er he sees me do, he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be, the little fellow who follows me.
He thinks that I am good and fine, believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see, the little fellow who follows me.
I must remember as I go, through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,
I am building for the years that be, for that little chap who follows me.
The unknown author of these words understood and appreciated the nature of how we teach our children, especially in the case of fathers and sons. His words should strike deep within our hearts so we will consider the things we do each day. While we may not give a second thought to many of the things we do, our children and grandchildren are watching and taking note of it all. We may tell them not to do as we do, but deep down inside we know that our words are useless in this regard. Our children idolize us as fathers, and even if they do not like certain aspects of our character, they will very likely copy them as they grow to maturity. This thought should sober us all.
As fathers we have an awesome responsibility, even if our only interest were in worldly matters. It takes wisdom and tenacity to raise children to be good citizens and hard-working contributors to the good of society. If it were easy, there would be no slackers in the world. But the responsibility, and the challenge, is even greater when we take a spiritual perspective on life. When we think spiritually, we are not just preparing our children for life. We are, in fact, preparing them for eternity.
What we need today are more fathers like the patriarch Job. Of all the earthly fathers mentioned in scripture, he is perhaps the greatest, and the reasons are pretty clear. In Job 1:1 the scripture says that Job was “blameless and upright, fearing God and turning away from evil”. In v. 8 God Himself testified to this truth. So as a father, Job gave his children the best possible example of what it means to be a godly man.
Secondly, Job was conscientious about his children’s conduct, and led them in proper devotion to God. In Job 1:5 the scripture says that after Job’s children had completed their days of feasting, he would offer burnt offerings for them before God, in case one of them had sinned against God in some way. The scripture says, “Thus Job did continually.” So not only did Job’s children see the godly conduct of their father, they also saw, and were led by him, in continual expressions of worship to God.
Third, when Job was mercilessly attacked by Satan, and suffered many afflictions by his hand, the scripture says that in all of this, “Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:22). Job’s first children did not live to see this example, but his later children were surely aware of it. In these ways Job presented the best possible human example of what a father should be.
Let all of us who are fathers do our best each day to be like the patriarch Job. Let us strive to be blameless and upright before God, so our children will see the best possible example in our lives. Let us also continually lead our children in devotion to God so they will see what it means to properly love and honor Him.