First, a word about society. Our culture at large has pretty low expectations for behavior. Honesty, morality, decency and work ethic are no longer expected from most people. Slipping in a few minutes late, taking home a few office supplies, riding the clock a few minutes here or there is what employers and co-workers expect as normal these days. People will do what they can get away with, at school, at work, at red lights without cameras, filing their income taxes, etc. I’m not talking about embezzling corporate funds, I’m talking about the “little things” that supposedly everybody does, from running errands in the company car to flirting with the waitress.
Hopefully Christians – I said hopefully – attempt to rise above falling expectations. Everything from returning a borrowed pen to handing someone back their wallet shocks the people around us. The expectations for men in general and fathers in particular are even lower. The 18 – 30 age demographic is probably more familiar with the term baby daddy than with father. Many in that generation are suspicious of father figures because they have been abandoned or abused by their own fathers. Young mothers today may think, with good reason, that they can provide a safer environment for their children on their own without a man hanging around. Some of that has to with their personal choices; they dated a guy in high school that showed no respect for his or her parents – whether it was riding a motorcycle, ditching class, getting high or shoplifting, his lifestyle choices made him exciting – then realized after getting pregnant or having a baby this loser wasn’t fit to raise a child. Guys however, once they realize not much is expected of them, make the most of that situation by not even bothering to try to do better. Women expect poor behavior and lack of commitment from men, and some men couldn’t be happier.
In a dark world it doesn’t take much for the believer’s candle to shine. I exhort men of God to rise above what society expects, and fathers in particular to accept their responsibility as a parent. I’ve heard married Christian women say they were going out, either for business or pleasure, and say their husband would be baby sitting. Hey Dads, have you ever said that you were baby sitting – your own children? Grandmothers can babysit, a teenage girl you’re paying $15 an hour can babysit, but you are a parent. (Aside to moms: If your child is in trouble don’t say things like “Just wait ’till your father comes home.” That sets him up as the bad guy. Both parents need to parent.) Marriage consists of one man and woman for a reason and the family unit as designed by God functions best with one mother and one father. Some mothers have low expectations for fathers because of their own fathers. Likewise, there are plenty of men that would like to be a good father but their own father was missing or else a terrible example to imitate. Some good guys just don’t know how.
If your church leadership read and followed Paul’s instructions in 1 and 2 Timothy, then there should be opportunities for younger men and women to learn from older couples in your congregation. If your church pastor has a few years of experience in leadership, and a happy, healthy marriage of his own, and is the leader in his home he is instructed to be, then he is not only a good example but has the ability and patience to answer your questions and provide godly council. Of course if you attend a 10,000 member mega-church or the pastor is piped in on video and you’ve never met him… Or if you find yourself with a celebrity pastor that wouldn’t know the Bible if one hit him in the face… You need to find a real church. But of course there’s still hope.
The Bible gives us more than instruction, it also provides us with numerous examples of father figures that pleased God. “Without faith is is impossible to please him..” Heb 11:6 Abraham is the first man of faith we are introduced to in the Old Testament. By faith he followed God and moved his family to a foreign land. He believed God and God counted it to him as righteousness. I know, he was also willing to offer his son as a sacrifice, but that was a test of Abraham’s faith. Isaac was spared, Abraham’s faith was proven, and the whole story is a picture of what was to come.
I exhort men of God to have the faith of Abraham. All it takes is to trust God at his word. I exhort men of God to have the faith of Abraham, the courage of David and the wisdom of Solomon. Those men were not perfect by any means, but each made a conscious decision to trust in God. And we have something they didn’t have. We have a complete Old and New Testament Bible, filled with commands, promises, examples and illustrations. We have the recorded promises that a Messiah would come and can read about the fulfillment of those promises. We can read not only about men of God that illustrate characteristics of good fathers but about God our heavenly father. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct in our lives. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all… and it will be given him.” James 1:5
Society doesn’t expect much when it comes to character and integrity, and even less from men. God’s standards are much higher, and ultimately all will stand before him and be judged. Men of God – we can, should and must do better than our secular counterparts.