Happy Father Day

I read something that said that the typical greeting “Happy Father’s Day” may miss the point.[1] OK. However, our families and our children and our marriages would be much better off if our sincere desire was not for a happy Father’s Day but for “Happy Father Day.” We don’t want the day to be happy we want the fathers to be happy. But herein lies the problem for so many dads and kids. Yes, the foot rubs and Home Depot gift cards are appreciated, but ask any dad which he would prefer, steak or ongoing happiness as a dad and I think you know the answer. Happy day or happy dad? Happy day or happy family? Happy day or happy children?

How to be a Happy Father

I’m going to assume that every dad greatly desires to be a happy father. We all want to be happy and that certainly includes the most important relationships in our lives—our family—and if we are married, our spouse and children. How do we do so?

We take our cues from the happiest Father in the whole universe, God. God the Father who is the prototype father for all fathering. He is the happiest of all fathers as Jesus is the Son in whom he delights. “And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:17 ESV)

God loves being a father so much that he built into the fabric of human relationships a similar role. Like he takes leadership in the Trinity, earthly fathers are in the leadership role in the family. God the Father is the head of the Trinity and fathers are the leaders of their household. As such, we are responsible for the culture of our homes. We bear the primary responsibility for all that happens. This is not a king-of-my-castle type call but a Jesus-of-the-castle calling. Jesus, who came “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

The first step toward happiness as a dad is one of orientation. Am I a dad-king or dad-servant leader? Am I here to be served or to serve? Dad joy comes in giving of ourselves. This boomerangs back to us in dad joy. Dads who love well and lead well will experience God’s design for joy. Those who “rule” from the throne of their mancave or are emotionally absent from the home will not.

Here is my summary of what Proverbs urges dads:

Model, Discipline, and Teach Your Children to Live According to God’s Wisdom (Word/Jesus)

Model for your children a life according to God’s wisdom

Words are powerful but not as powerful as the example of our lives. I don’t think we follow Jesus in order to save our kids. We do that for God as an expression of worship. Further, there is no example powerful enough that alone it will save our kids. The prodigal children of eminent saints prove the point. Salvation is a work of God, not dads. But God works through means and I will tell you from my own life that a powerful example of an imperfect dad living out his sincere faith before me is one reason I’m standing here before you. Really? Tell me one thing he said that made the difference. I don’t have one thing. It is the cumulative effect of years of observing the life of my dad that God used to nurture faith in my life. Do you have to have that? No. My dad didn’t have that in his own life. His dad died when he was 4. God doesn’t need a dad to make a strong Christian, but he often uses one to do so.

“In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” (Proverbs 14:26)

Dads—model, discipline, and teach your children.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2019 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

[1] Berith Road blog, “The Key to a Father’s Happiness According to the Book of Proverbs,” September 1, 2011.

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