Responsibility #1: Establish a Godly VisionBefore much else can be added, a father must establish a godly vision for each child under his influence. Every child has unique strengths, tendencies, and passions that differ from every other child on the earth. Those differences mean that each child needs nuanced care and attention. Now, as a father, if you’re not careful, you might think it doesn’t matter too much so long as they receive instruction and discipline and care. But fathers must be careful that they don’t steer children away from God’s purpose for them. Because you might see the strengths and passions within the child immediately, or you might not. Some of the young people under your influence might like sports, music, art, government, or nature. Who knows?
God puts strengths and passions within children, and from early on those strengths and passions must be nurtured and protected.
So designing a godly vision for your child is profound because many young people today lack vision. They have no substantive goal to work toward. For many young people today, their frame of reference is short term. They see few options, and they see no consequences. Why would a 17-year-old take their life because they broke up with a boyfriend or girlfriend? Isn’t that crazy? Well, not really, no. If your perspective is short term, you see few options and few consequences. It makes sense. To have somebody who’s older and wiser speak into their lives and help them to see a vision that goes way beyond where they are now could change their lives.
Uncover more of the ins and outs of mentoring your children or other young people by reading Brian D. Molitor’s book Mentoring Moments.
Some kids make mistakes early in life, and when they do, the enemy screams in their ear, “It’s all done. It’s all over. There’s no hope for you. There’s no future. You might as well just give up.” Yet if someone comes along to that same child and whispers, “God has a great plan for your life,” then the enemy no longer has a voice. You must have a vision for your young people to fulfill your responsibilities as a father.
Responsibility #2: Love UnconditionallyThe second responsibility of a father is to love each child unconditionally. It makes all the difference in the world of a child to know they are loved and cared for, that they have purpose. It’s simple.
Love every child unconditionally.
All children are different. One can be corrected with just a look, but another requires consequences. Still, your love must be the same. You do this in various ways—mainly, you tell them and show them. The other part of this is loving the child’s mom unconditionally. Situations can differ with single parenting, but in a nuclear home the father must show the love of Christ in his relationship with his wife. Why is that important? Because when your son observes a father’s love for their mother, he says to himself, “Ah, that’s how I will treat my wife when I’m married.” When a daughter observes interactions between her mother and father that are kind and compassionate, she thinks, “Ah, when I get married, I want to marry a man who will treat me how my dad treats my mom.” It’s not always easy to do, but it’s very important in the lives of your children.
Showing unconditional love requires humility, patience, and understanding.
It means letting go of your own desires sometimes for the sake of another. The result of a child witnessing their father’s unconditional love for their mother sets up their hearts to receive love from God and creates an innate desire to show love to others around them. I’ll take you back to when Jesus walked the earth and the little children wanted to come to him. Remember that in the Scriptures? What did the disciples do? They wanted the kids out of the way. They had a schedule to keep, right? But Jesus rebuked the disciples and said the kingdom of God consists of such little ones. And he laid his hands on them and blessed them. We must love our children in such an unconditional way to fulfill our responsibilities of a father.
Responsibility #3: Bless and Lay on HandsThe third responsibility of a father is to bless his children. “Laid his hands on them” is the Greek word epetimesan, which means “to touch; to exert a modifying influence upon.” In other words, when Jesus touched the children, they were changed. When Jesus walked the earth, he walked as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit. Do you know any other people walking the earth today anointed by the Holy Spirit? You are. Jesus showed that when you touch a child—appropriately and for their blessing—you shape the life of that child.
Receiving a sense of comfort and peace and protection is incredible for children.
Did you know you had that much power on the end of your arms? It’s like putting a coat of paint on bare wood. Over time, after each coat of paint is added, that bare wood is fully and completely protected. You have that power just in your hands alone. But Jesus also blessed the children. The word “blessed” in this instance is the word kateulogei, which means “to speak well of.” Does that sound like an English word you’ve heard before? The second part of the word is like “eulogy.” Whom do we eulogize in our societies? Memorial services are a wonderful way for us to pay tribute and respect to loved ones. But that ceremony serves us. Whom did Jesus eulogize? Whom did he speak well of? The children! He spoke well of them at the start of their lives, not the end. He spoke well of the children, not saying off-handedly, “Bless you,” like we often do. Rather, he said something like, “Your heavenly Father has a purpose for your life.” He likely spoke blessings such as, “When your father looks at you, he sees a tremendous future. The enemy lies and says you have no great future, but God says you have an outstanding future.” These are the kind of blessings Jesus might have bestowed upon the children, and these are the blessings that children today need to know in their hearts and minds. I discuss how to speak into children’s lives and bless them in my book Mentoring Moments. Read my book to learn how to be a blessing to children.
Responsibility #4: Provide ProtectionThe responsibilities of a father also include protecting their families. They are to provide physical, emotional, and spiritual protection for their children. Part of this includes mentoring and raising up each child in the way they should go. Fathers must identify life lessons, character qualities, and experiences that children need, and then fathers must walk with their young ones through life to make sure that everything needed is built into them.
Fathers are the fortress of the family, a fortress with strong walls and high towers.
What happens if a child doesn’t feel safe inside their fortress? Where can they go if it’s not safe in the fortress? Think about a child who’s three feet high and a dad who’s six feet high. If the dad gets angry and raises his voice—if there’s screaming, yelling, hollering, throwing things—what will that small, frail, helpless child feel? If it were me, I’d be afraid of being squashed. Fathers, you must be careful and understand that you are very big and important to a son or a daughter. Also, you can be scary sometimes. Yet if a child has somebody who says, “I’m going with you wherever you go. I will protect you,” that will make all the difference in the world. You are their strong fortress.
Responsibility #5: Sacrifice for OthersThe responsibilities of a father include making sacrifices for others. Why is this important? Because again, you’re the role model for young ones. Young ones need to see you sacrifice for others. This is a profound act for them to witness. If they see you living out a sacrificial, unconditional love for others, it won’t be long before they begin trying their best to live it out too. Your children will imitate you without even thinking because they want to be like you. It’s a natural response. Those are the five key responsibilities of a father from Scripture. Now I want to leave you with this.
The Old Testament Example of King HezekiahThere was a king in the Old Testament named Hezekiah. Scripture says there was no king like Hezekiah before or afterwards. At one point, he prayed for his kingdom to be protected, and God delivered the people. Something happened to Hezekiah, though. He became deathly ill. Then the prophet Isaiah showed up and said Hezekiah would soon die. Pretty intense and scary stuff. The prophetic word Isaiah had given caused Hezekiah to cry out to God.
Hezekiah prayed for God to spare his life.
But before Isaiah even got out of Hezekiah’s courtyard, God sent him back to inform Hezekiah he would now have fifteen more years of life. That must have been a powerful prayer. Unfortunately, soon after Hezekiah made mistakes. He opened up his kingdom to envoys from Babylon. Hezekiah let those foreigners see everything he had, all the treasures and valuable possessions of the kingdom. He certainly was not supposed to do that as a king, for his duty was to protect the kingdom. Eventually, Isaiah came back to Hezekiah and essentially said, “Now because of what you’ve done, everything that your forefathers have ever stored up, everything they did for your generation, all your wealth and treasures will be taken away from you by your enemies. And some of your descendants, those who will be born to you, will be taken captive by the kings of Babylon.” In other words, the enemy would destroy the destiny of Hezekiah’s descendants. He would rip them apart. They would serve the enemy. Hezekiah had served God his whole life. All he had to do was die, and he would have been a hero of the faith. But he begged God for more time to do great things, then instead of doing great things, he betrayed his kingdom and neglected to protect future generations. In other words, he failed in the responsibilities of a father.
The Choice Is YoursMen have a choice right now. And the choice is this:
You can serve God, or you can keep cruising along doing whatever you want.
It’s a choice you freely get to make, similar to how God allowed Hezekiah to make his own choices. The prophet Malachi wrote, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). This means that we, as fathers, have the choice to give the next generation our time, our talents, and our hearts. Making this choice will show the Father that we care deeply about what happens to the next generation. We have a choice to make. We have the ability to choose well and choose wisely, and when we choose our children, their hearts will turn back to us.
Read Brian D. Molitor’s book Mentoring Moments to learn more about how to guide young people in their faith journey. This post was adapted from an audio transcript provided by Brian D. Molitor. Used with permission.