As we get ready to celebrate fatherhood this weekend, I would like to share some thoughts on the subject. Even though I’m directly talking to fathers, it really applies to all of us because we are all children of our heavenly Father.
To be a loving father, we need to know the love of the Father. Everything good and perfect starts with Him (James 1:17), and I have found that we truly become good fathers by first being fathered in our heavenly Father’s love (1 John 4:19).
With this in mind, I will share seven characteristics of a good father from my own experiences of fatherhood. There are certainly more than seven, but these are what I’ve learned in my heavenly Father’s embrace. I will use a lot of Scripture to show the Father’s heart for us (all NKJV). Where the word “God” means “Father” or “Jesus,” I’ve put it in parentheses for clarification. Bold-type is also added for emphasis.
Shall we begin?
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1a)
1. A good father loves his children unconditionally. I loved every one of my children as soon as they were born. It didn’t matter what they would ever do, or not do, they were a part of me! My DNA is in their DNA. They will never need to win my approval or love. Like the Prodigal’s father (Luke 15:20-24), your heavenly Father always loves and affirms you. He never stops loving you, even if you never return His love or run away.
“But God (Father) demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom.5:8)
“In this is love, not that we loved God (Father), but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
2. A good father gives his children a sense of great worth and value. I would do anything for my children because they’re most precious to me. Our heavenly Father proved that He would stop at nothing to get His kids back by bankrupting heaven. He gave what was most precious to Him–Jesus–so we could live the fullest life with Him forever. This also shows that our value to our heavenly Father is equal to Jesus’ value, because He paid Jesus to get us.
“For God (Father) so loved the world (you!) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
3. A good father makes his children feel safe and secure in his love. When I first became a father in 1982, I was so insecure and fearful. My earthly father had left when I was very young. I rarely saw him growing up after that, so I had no idea how to be a loving father. I was so full of rejection with abandonment issues. But I found out that I have the BEST DAD in the whole world, and He will NEVER leave me, nor will He ever let go of me! (See Heb.13:5 AMP). Our heavenly Father is not an absentee Dad. He NEVER left Jesus, not even for one moment, especially when everyone else abandoned Him at the Cross. He was there, in Christ, when He reconciled the world to Himself (See John 16:32; 2 Cor.5:19). As I let Him love me so unconditionally, my performance-driven orphan fears of fatherhood melt away in His unfathomable love.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
4. A good father gives his children identity and a sense of belonging. One thing I remember about growing up was family reunions! Even though my own father wasn’t around, I had uncles, and a grandfather, who were good fathers. They gave me a sense of identity and belonging to something bigger than myself. This has always been God’s father heart for you. He reveals to us that He’s a Father to the fatherless by putting us in His GREAT BIG family, spanning both heaven and earth (Eph.3:14-15). You’re not alone anymore! You belong. He is your Father and mine! We’re part of His family. We are His beloved sons and daughters.
“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” (Psalm 68:5-6)
“And because you are sons, God (Father) has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Gal.4:6-7)
5. A good father has favorites–ALL of his children! Because I have received God’s unconditional love, I can love each of my three sons the same, no matter what they do, yet I love them each uniquely. They’re ALL my favorites for different reasons. There is no difference between the Father’s love for Jesus than His love for you. You are HIS favorite one!
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9)
“I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You (Father) have sent Me, and have loved them as You (Father) have loved Me.” (John 17:23)
6. A good father corrects in order to protect and mature his children. When I had the heart of an orphan, I only understood correction as rejection, so I grew up rejecting any authority in my life. This caused me a lot of pain, having to learn things the hard way. But the Father’s love taught me that a good father corrects his children because of love, so that they will not have to live in needless shame and brokenness in this world. His correction helped me break free from my own self-deception and bondage so that I could truly be free, living fully in His righteousness, peace and joy (Rom.14:17). The Father’s correction is how we mature in His love. It also helped me to understand how to train up my own children for their highest good.
“7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?…10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Heb.12:7, 10-11)
7. A good father’s intent is for His children to inherit everything he has. I want my children to have every resource and benefit I possess because they are my sons. Before there was a world, the Father’s heart was to make us His sons and daughters. When Adam sinned and separated us in our darkened minds from His perfect love, the Father’s relentless focus was on winning His kids back. Jesus’ sacrifice was not ultimately about forgiveness but adoption, so now our Father has blessed us with every blessing that Jesus has because we are His children.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph.1:3-5)
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
One last thing. It’s important that we, as fathers, not be hard on ourselves for not doing these things very well. I failed in all seven points many times as I was coming out of my own orphan fear. But my sons always knew that I loved them, and love covers a multitude of sins.
So, be at peace, embrace your fatherhood! You have good, good Father…a glad, glad Dad! He’s always for you. He’s waiting to have those father-son (daughter) talks with you while laying your weary head on His lap. He will never let you go and will walk with you every step of the way.
I would like to celebrate fatherhood by including a song I’ve covered on this blog before. This rendition is from Kalley Heiligenthal at Bethel. This song has become an anthem in our church family. He’s a good, good Father!
God’s richest blessings to you dads on this Father’s day. You are truly amazing!