A portrait of fatherhood
by Terry Broome
Father’s Day presents us with an opportunity to look at the role of being a father once again. Where do you find guidance for that? The Bible is always the best source. I’ve selected a passage from 1 Thessalonians 2: 7-12 that few would consider to be a Father’s Day text, but I think it is a good one. In these few verses we see a portrait of fatherhood that is worth examining. And as you look at the portrait, consider with me five wonderful traits of a father today.
The first trait of a father would be the ability to express genuine love. Notice what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (NIV) 7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.
8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. In the original language those words expressed an intensity of love that gives over and over again. I think that is an important character trait for fathers because loving and expressing love does not come naturally for a lot of men.
The second trait is a transparent life: Paul writes in vs. 8, “We loved you so much that we delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well …” Now notice that Paul makes a connection between the “gospel” and our “lives.” It is one thing to hear the gospel, but it is another thing to live it. What Paul is saying is, “When we lived among you we not only told you the good news, we modeled it for you by how we lived.” Paul lived a transparent, see-through, life. It seems to me that if you’re a Christian dad, your kids ought to know it by the way you live.
A third trait is an unselfish diligence: Paul says in verse 9: “Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” We have a responsibility as parents to teach a good work ethic to our children. And oftentimes, if our kids don’t see a father who is a hard worker and who has a good work ethic, they’ll never learn it. We teach it in two ways. First, we teach by example, by just doing it and letting our children see that. Second, our children learn by doing. We give them the opportunity to do things and make their own mistakes and learn from the mistakes they make.
Fourth, the trait of genuine spirituality: Paul said in verse10: “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” Notice what he has said. First of all, “we preached the gospel of God to you” (verse 8). Secondly, “you are witnesses of how we lived. We lived holy, righteous and blameless lives among you” (verse 10). In essence he declares “our behavior was influenced by what we believed about Jesus.” God has commissioned dads to be spiritual leaders.
Finally, there is the trait of positive influence. Paul writes, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2: 11-12). That is what a father does. He encourages and comforts and urges his children to live lives worthy of God. We fathers can learn a lot about our everyday lives as we look at the apostles comparisons of his ministry to “fatherhood.”
The author can be reached for comments at 256-574-2489.