Masculinity is currently under assault in our culture. You may have heard about the recent report by the American Psychological Association suggesting that masculine roles are social and cultural constructs with no objective biological basis. Of course, any parent who has raised boys and girls can testify to the patent absurdity of this worldview statement. More importantly, the Scriptures point to differences in men and women that allow for a complementarian view for human flourishing.
Fatherhood has also been challenged by the proliferation of same-sex marriage (or “mirage,” as one author terms it). If two moms can raise children, then logic dictates that a father is irrelevant. Nevertheless, the calling of fatherhood and headship is prevalent throughout the Scriptures, with warnings (Ephesians 6:4) as well as encouragement (Proverbs 20:7). The high calling of fathers requires fidelity to the commission to be servant leaders in our homes. Below are a few challenges for all of us as we seek to love our families in a manner worthy of our gospel.
- Own It – I love the scene in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life: Uncle Billy loses $8,000, causing a crisis for George Bailey. When Mr. Potter (who found the cash) asks what’s wrong, George responds, “I’ve misplaced $8,000.” The look on Potter’s face reveals a wry acknowledgement that Bailey is owning a problem he didn’t create. Inherent in boys and men is a tendency to make excuses, attributing blame to something outside of our control. As heads of our homes, we need to take ownership of the family by absorbing responsibility. The quicker we as fathers stop blaming the sunshine for the proverbial dropped fly ball, the better we are at assuming leadership and preaching to ourselves.
- Engage – Spend time with your kids. Because our wives tend to be great family managers, we can be tempted to abdicate. Lack of engagement is often a failure to prioritize. We fathers are notorious for having so many things that occupy our time, many of which are good and beneficial. But are we too busy for the most important priorities? Read the Bible; pray for your children; love your church; have dinner with the family. Take stock of the 24 hours in a day to ensure maintenance of the right priorities.
- Godward Discipline – Faithful discipline in the home is an act of love (Proverbs 3:11-12). Conversely, failure to address problems by allowing children to continue in their sins affirms and perpetuates the sin. Fathers should assume a primary role in the spiritual condition of their children through firm, consistent, and loving discipline, not allowing subtle sins to go unchecked. At school we’ve embraced the phrase, “What you permit, you promote.” It’s the same in the home.
- Servant Leadership – As Christ died for His bride, the church, so we as fathers must die to self in serving our families. The gospel is full of paradox: “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16); “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30); The greatest will be your servant (Matthew 23:11). Modeling sacrificial love and faithful habits tangibly demonstrates to our children our unconditional love for them. Your children may not acknowledge that you take time out of your busy schedule to drive them to school every day, but they will remember it.