Too often on Father’s Day the focus is on all the ways in which fathers need to improve in order to be what God expects them to be. Lost in such an exercise is that a man need not be perfect to be a godly father. The scriptures are full of men who are worthy of our praise and respect. Yet none of these men was perfect. However, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work on improving ourselves. On the contrary, we must strive to become godlier every day. The point is that godly fathers do not get as much credit as they should for the good influence they exert.
One of the most revered men in all of scripture, David, was not the best example as a father. Not only did he have problems with his son Absalom, but he also had issues with his son Adonijah, who appointed himself king when David was old. The difficulties with both of these sons no doubt stemmed from what is said about David’s attitude toward Adonijah. In 1 Kgs. 1:6 the scripture says, “His father had never crossed him at any time by asking, ‘Why have you done so?'” In other words, David did not properly discharge his duties as a father in this regard.
Even so, all the kings who ruled Israel and Judah thereafter were judged on how they measured up to David. The evil kings were said to have walked in the footsteps of their “father” Jeroboam, son of Nebat. The good kings were said to have reigned as their “father” David had done (2 Kgs. 18:3). So David became the standard of what a good king should be and he was a “father” to all the good kings who followed him.
This is where and how we should praise our own fathers. None of them is perfect. Neither are we. Still, a man may be a godly father if he seeks the Lord with all his heart, like David. When he does so, his imperfections and failures will be overcome by the Lord, so he may instill the attitudes in his children which will help them become what they ought to be before God.
Godly fathers take seriously the charge of Paul in Eph. 6:4, where he said, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is the only way their children will have the opportunity to know the Lord and to be saved. They will not do so perfectly, but if their heart is in the right place, the Lord will reward them with success.
Godly fathers will also model their faith in word and in deed, so their children have an example worthy of imitation. Paul said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1) . Godly fathers may say the same thing if they follow the Lord. It doesn’t take perfection. It just takes dedication and humility.
Most fathers generally do a far better job than we give them credit for, and we need to praise them for the good that they do. Therefore, fathers, for all that you do, and for all you have done, to lead your children to the Lord, we say, “Thank You” and “God bless you.”