We have a lot of roles as dads.
Depending on your child, and depending on their age, you might find yourself as a coach, a tutor, or a counselor. You might be a career coach, a protector, or a driving instructor. And on many days, you will find yourself doing all of the above and more. This is who we are. This is what God has called us to be. And all these roles fit under the great and glorious umbrella term of “dad.”
As Christian fathers, though, there is an even greater calling God has given to us – a calling that runs through all these individual roles. God has given us these children not only to protect, provide for, and teach – He has given us these children for us to be a shadow of their greater Father. I am, as their father, a visible portrait of an invisible reality. In other words, both when I do the right thing and when I come up short as a dad, I am but a shadow of who God is. By God’s grace, I pray that when my children encounter God they might say over and over again something like this: “He’s like Daddy, but better.”
- God loves me like Daddy does… only better.
- God provides for me like Daddy does… only better.
- God disciplines me like Daddy does… only better.
- God takes care of me like Daddy does… only better.
We are the first and most influential introduction our kids have to what “father” means – and we are meant to point their eyes upward through our character and interactions. This is indeed a high calling. It’s often an intimidating one. And it’s certainly one we fall short of on a regular basis. Yet we get up, day after day, bolstered by God’s grace, to try again.
Have you considered today how the way you speak to your children models God’s fatherhood? Have you thought today how your forgiveness models God’s fatherhood? Have you dwelled today on how your patience models God’s fatherhood? These are good questions to ask. These are good thoughts to keep in mind. But perhaps there is one other way—an even simpler way—to model God’s character in your home. It’s a way so simple it often goes overlooked.
Your steadiness as a father shows the steadiness of God to your family.
I love the many uses of “always” and “never” in the Bible as they describe the Lord:
- Lord, you do not withhold your compassion from me. Your constant love and truth will always guard me (Ps. 40:11).
- God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble (Ps. 46:1).
- Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken (Ps. 55:22).
- Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6).
The list could go on, but all these statements are meant to assure us of the steadiness of God. God is “always” and “never” a lot of things, and all of that steadiness ought to have a generally calming and peaceful effect on us as Christians. But as Christian fathers? It ought to do something in addition to that.
It ought to make us want to model that steadiness in our homes. Of course, you might look at this kind of steadiness and think it amounts to boredom. Maybe it does. But it also brings a sense of security and safety within our homes – that in many ways, our kids know what they get with us as fathers. We are the ones to be counted on, because we are the men who are solid and steady.
Men, there are moments to be “fun dad.” And there are moments to be “discipline dad.” But in all moments, there is the opportunity to be a steady father. Just as our heavenly Father is steady with us.
Michael Kelley lives in Nashville, Tenn., with his wife, Jana, and three children: Joshua, Andi, and Christian. He serves as the Sr. Vice President of Church Ministries for Lifeway Christian Resources. He is the author of Growing Down: Unlearning the Patterns of Adulthood that Keep Us from Jesus, Wednesdays Were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, and God; Transformational Discipleship; and Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life.
This post originally appeared on michaelkelley.co.