Barry Watts, associate pastor of Lawrence Heights Christian Church, 2321 Peterson Road:
The greatest lesson is love.
It is written, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The love spoken of is unconditional, unwavering and unchanging. It is not an emotional love, but a love of choice and action. Love is part of God’s character. So much so that 1 John 4:8 declares, “God is love.”
There is another key lesson to learn from God’s character and actions. God, as part of his love for us, is a god of discipline. Hebrews 12:6-11 says, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Discipline is an important instrument of God, and is a crucial part of being a good father.
There are 25 other words from Scripture describing God that should be a model for earthly fatherhood. In no particular order, they are: creator, sustainer, provider, protector, teacher, helper, discipline, sacrifice, love, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, self-control, grace, mercy, encouragement, listen, truthful, trustworthy, faithful, attentive, joy-giver, caring and guiding.
I love my father, and he loves me.
— Barry Watts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pieter Willems, senior pastor at Mustard Seed Church, 700 Wakarusa Drive:
The best biblical lessons about being a father come from learning who God is.
God is first a father and repeatedly refers to himself as a father. Likewise he refers to us as his children. So, when we look at God, we can begin to get a picture of what it means to be a good father.
God is love (1 John 4:16). So a father should be motivated by love when he relates to his children. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love looks like: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” That should keep us challenged as fathers.
God’s love also is not permissive or passive. He wants what is best for us down the road and, as such, will discipline us for our good (Heb. 12:10).
As earthly fathers we should have a long-term view for our children’s lives. Always giving them what they want when they want it is not good fathering. We have to be able to say no and explain why we are saying no.
Discipline undergirded with love makes a good father.
— Email Pieter Willems at email@example.com.