1. WALK WITH GOD
The most important thing a father can do for his family is to pay attention to his relationship with God. To Solomon, not only a king, but also a father, the Lord advises. "If you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever..." (1 Kings 9:4,5).
A godly father is well on the way to being a good father if he determines to walk with God. And that often means that your children will follow in your footsteps.
2. BE WORTHY OF FAMILY TRUST
There are few other places from which we extract the stuff that forms our perception of God, than our view of our earthly father. The apostle John (14:1) declares our God to be trustworthy. Our kids should be able to trust us as well, and when they can't, the wound from which they suffer may be eternal.
3. FIT YOUR CHILDREN FOR SUCCESS IN THE WORLD
It is the father who most clearly sex-types his children. The physiological stamp is in our DNA, but its accents are psycho-social. And it is the father who accentuates maleness in his son, and deepens femininity in his daughters. Not only does that affect self-image and identity, it contributes to healthy relating styles with the opposite sex. Mothers are often easier to talk to than fathers, but it is the dialogue with the father that sharpens good communication. Kids that fail to develop good communication patterns with their parents are more likely to succumb to drugs or other social compensations than those who have a good healthy relationship.
Proverbs 22:6 urges on parents the role of child training. And Solomon says knowingly, that these early imprinted patterns will be with us until our dying days.
4. WIELD DIVINE INFLUENCE
In Isaiah 54:13, the prophet declares, "All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the prosperity of your children" (NRSV).
Parents open the door to Divine influence. He teaches in our teaching. As fathers show an interest in their children, especially godly fathers, there is an unmistaking connection to the interest of God Himself. He is seen in their example. His values reflect those of the God they love. Thy unconsciously adopt his habits.
There are sobering consequences for our children if we fail to be godly. Jeremiah 32:18 declares that God shows his love "to thousands." But he "brings the punishment for the fathers' sins into the laps of their children after them." The idea is not that God punishes the children for what the fathers did; rather, that the sins of the fathers created patterns of behavior that the children do not discern as deadly. After all, this is what trusted fathers and mothers did, how they lived, how they acted and reacted--and with such behaviors they were comfortable--but God was not. Now, like arrows whose direction is determined by the fathers, the moral trajectory is one that destines them to certain calamity, either in their time or that of a subsequent generation.
As fathers overcome sin or openly confess sin, they recalibrate generational values. Otherwise, their sinful habits are replicated by their children.
5. WORDS MATTER
Children need to hear certain things--words do matter. They need to hear the Bible read. They need to hear their parents effortlessly talk about the Lord. They need to see examples of loving and gracious speech in the face of hostility. They should hear encouraging and kind words. A critical spirit is catching. They need to hear, "I Love You."
They not only need to hear 'holy talk,' they need to hear clear standards for righteous living articulated.
6. WEALTH IS FOUND IN LEGACY
Proverbs 22:1 says, "A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." All the material wealth in the world without moral integrity is poverty. A 'good name'--a godly heritage may be the finest gift you can leave your children.
Rare now, are marriages that last to the golden years, where fidelity has been maintained. Increasingly rare are Christian leaders who have not been tainted by some scandal. Dishonesty abounds. Fathers are needed who are rich in righteousness, men with Biblical convictions, who at the same time are loaded with mercy and compassion. Such fathers are especially sensitive to the needs of their children.
Jesus notes in Matthew 7:9-11, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" Fathers are not only to be generous with their children, meeting their needs, but in doing so they model the grace of God, the heavenly Father. Good fathers give good gifts; and the heavenly Father, more so.
7. MAKE A WISH COME TRUE
At the end of life, it is relationships that matter most--not work, not career, not over-time. Invest in those who will be with you in the end. Slow down. Don't spend your life on the trivial. Be best at the thing you will be noted for in eternity, and for the memories that will outlive you.
Jesus asked, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and yet loses his own soul?" In a similar vein, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own children?" (Luke 9:25).
A nationwide survey indicated that the average father spends some twelve minutes a day in interaction with his children. Twelve-minute dads, someone has observed, are producing a crop of thirteen year old delinquents.
8. WRAP YOUR WIFE AND CHILDREN IN LOVE
The palmist noted, "As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him" (103:13). The Lord is compassionate. And it is primary duty of the Father to act in compassionate ways toward his children.
A father's love is arguably more important than that of the mother. A mother's love is more easily discerned, a father more often has to declare his love openly. And as important as his expressed love to his children may be, his obvious love for their mother is even more critical. Nothing is more settling for our children, than to know that their parents love one another. The way a man treats his wife, with singular attention and esteem, sends a strong signal to the children. And it translates into stability in their own marital relationships.
Good wives love their husbands and the partnership helps both to become better parents.
9. WRESTLE FOR THE SOULS OF YOUR CHILDREN IN PRAYER
Paul told the Romans, "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved..." (10:1, 2). If Paul prayed for his 'family' it is certainly appropriate for us to pray for our children. They need to hear you praying for them.
Pray for them and pray with them.
Dr. Ray H. Hughes, three-time General Overseer of the Church of God, head of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, Pentecostal ambassador to the White House, and one of the greatest preachers and intellectuals of our time recalled that he came home as boy, threw his books down and grabbed his ball glove and was headed out the back door, when he heard his mother upstairs, in his room, praying, "God save my boy Ray!" He would play ball that day, but he would do so with the arrow of God's conviction in his heart.
10. WALL YOUR CHILDREN IN WITH PRAYER
There are things fathers cannot do for their children, and that includes, make the decision to follow Christ. But a father can consecrate his children to God He has that right. And by consecration, he draws a circle around his children. He walls them in and unto God. They can certainly violate such a hedge. But the hedge is an invitation to God to work in the circle, to change their heads and hearts. It invites God's protective grace and His Presence.