The Model Father
Text: Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children (Eph 5:1 NIV)
· song: I want to be just like You, cause he wants to be like me.
- The TV show "60 Minutes" ran a segment that tells us something important about fatherlessness.
The park rangers at a South African wildlife preserve were concerned about the slaughter of 39 rare white rhinos in their park. It turned out that the rhinos were killed not by poachers but rather by juvenile delinquents—teen elephants.
The story began a decade ago when the park could no longer sustain the increasing population of elephants. They decided to kill many of the adult elephants whose young were old enough to survive without them. And so, the young elephants grew up fatherless.
As time went on, many of these young elephants roamed together in gangs and began to do things elephants normally don't do. They threw sticks and water at rhinos and acted like neighborhood bullies. Without dominant males, the young bulls became sexually active, producing excessive testosterone and exhibiting aggressive behavior. A few young males grew especially violent, knocking down rhinos and stepping or kneeling on them, crushing the life out of them. Mafuto the gang leader eventually had to be killed.
The park rangers theorized that these young teen-aged elephants were acting badly because they lacked role models. The solution was to bring in a large male to lead them and to counteract their bully behaviors. Soon the new male established dominance and put the young bulls in their places. The killing stopped. The young males were mentored—and saved.
Citation: Ken Sowers, Mentor, Ohio; "60 Minutes" (1-20-99)
- Girls without a father in their life are two and a half times as likely to get pregnant and 53 percent more likely to commit suicide. Boys without a father in their life are 63 percent more likely to run away and 37 percent more likely to abuse drugs. Both girls and boys without a father are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to end up in jail, and nearly four times as likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.
Source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services press release, "HHS Launches 'Be Their Dad' Parental Responsibility Campaign" (March 26, 1999)
Thematic Sentence: Fathers need to model themselves after their heavenly Father in order to be the kind of Father their children need.
I. The Model Father Understands His Children
· As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
(Ps 103:13-14 NIV)
A. An Understanding That is Accented with Compassion
B. An Understanding That Makes Allowance For Limitations
In his book, Connecting, Larry Crabb writes:
A friend of mine was raised in an angry family. Mealtimes were either silent or sarcastically noisy. Down the street was an old-fashioned house with a big porch where a happy family lived. My friend told me that when he was about ten, he began excusing himself from his dinner table as soon as he could without being yelled at, and walking to the old-fashioned house down the street. If he arrived during dinnertime, he would crawl under the porch and just sit there, listening to the sounds of laughter.
When he told me this story, I asked him to imagine what it would have been like if the father in the house somehow knew he was huddled beneath the porch and sent his son to invite him in. I asked him to envision what it would have meant to him to accept the invitation, to sit at the table, to accidentally spill his glass of water, and hear the father roar with delight, "Get him more water! And a dry shirt! I want him to enjoy the meal!"
Crabb goes on to say, "We need to hear the Father laugh. Change depends on experiencing the character of God."
Citation: David Slagle, Lawrenceville, Georgia; source: Larry Crabb, Connecting (Word, 1997)
II. The Model Father Loves His Children
· But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Ro 5:8 NIV)
· This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 Jn 4:9-10 NIV)
In his book The Wisdom of Tenderness, Brennan Manning tells the following story:
Several years ago, Edward Farrell of Detroit took his two-week vacation to Ireland to celebrate his favorite uncle's 80th birthday. On the morning of the great day, Ed and his uncle got up before dawn, dressed in silence, and went for a walk along the shores of Lake Killarney. Just as the sun rose, his uncle turned and stared straight at the rising orb. Ed stood beside him for 20 minutes with not a single word exchanged. Then the elderly uncle began to skip along the shoreline, a radiant smile on his face.
After catching up with him, Ed commented, "Uncle Seamus, you look very happy. Do you want to tell my why?"
"Yes, lad," the old man said, tears washing down his face. "You see, the Father is fond of me. Ah, me Father is so very fond of me."
Citation: Brennan Manning, The Wisdom of Tenderness (Harper San Francisco, 2002), pp. 25-26
A. Demonstrated Initially
B. Demonstrated Actively
C. Demonstrated Sacrificially
Forty-two-year-old David Saunders waited on the driveway of his Hanover, Michigan, home for his 4-year-old daughter, Danielle, to get off her school bus. A pickup truck was stopped behind the bus. Saunders crossed the street to meet Danielle at the bus and then the two crossed the street together and stood in the Saunders' driveway.
Suddenly he noticed that a car behind the bus was traveling too fast to stop safely before entering the crossing zone. The car swerved to avoid the pickup and went into the Saunders' driveway. Heading directly for them both, Saunders grabbed Danielle by the arm and flung her away from himself and into their front yard.
He was then struck by the car. Saunders was pronounced dead at the scene. Danielle was treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital and soon released. The 16-year-old driver and a 15-year-old passenger were not injured.
Sheriff's Captain Tony Philipps said, "It was a heroic act by a father to save his child. He did everything he could, and in the process, he lost his own life."
Citation: "A Father's Love," Detroit Free Press (11-19-00); submitted by Clark Cothern, Tecumseh, Michigan
III. The Model Father Teaches His Children
· Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Dt 6:4-9 NIV)
· And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
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. (Heb 12:5-11 NIV)
Do you read the cartoon Nancy? She says, "Things will be different when I'm an adult. When I have kids of my own, I'm going to let them do whatever they want, whenever they want." The next frame shows her rethinking what she just said. In the last frame, she says, "As long as they do it my way."
Citation: John Maxwell, "What Children Owe Their Parents (and Themselves)," Preaching Today, Tape No. 140.
Pediatricians and psychologists are finding today's parents are too permissive. They are reluctant to set limits for their children. And this benign parental neglect is harming kids from the ages of nine months to adolescence.
Karen Stabiner writes in the New York Times: "It seems that the parents of today's parents, those strict disciplinarians of the 1950s and early '60s, may have been right all along: father and mother did know best…."
Nancy Samalin, a parent educator in New York City, sees both single- and two-parent families as overwhelmed. She says, "Parents want their children to love them, and it's harder to say no than yes, especially if you've been working all day and you're tired."
Telling a child no is essential to raising healthy kids, according to Linda Rubinowitz, psychologist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University in Chicago. "It gives the child a sense that you really understand what's going on. And it gives the child a way to deal with a problem in a social context. You can tell them, 'Say your mom and dad won't let you do it, and grumble if you want.' That's face saving for the child."
Revetta Bowers heads the Centre for Early Education in Los Angeles. She says schools are replacing parents. "Schools now make rules, which in many instances are the only rules that are not open to arbitration or negotiation. What children really need is guidance and love and support. We expect them to act more and more like adults, while we act more and more like children. Then, when we're ready to act like parents, they bristle at the retaking of authority."
In other words, you can't leave it to Beaver.
Citation: Karen Stabiner, "The Problem with Kids Today? Today's Parents, Some Say," New York Times (6-25-00); submitted by Jerry De Luca, Montreal West, Quebec
A. With the Aid of Instruction
B. With the Arm of Discipline
C. With The Aim of Training
IV. The Model Father Supports His Children
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (Jas 1:17 NIV)
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
(Lk 11:11-13 NIV)
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
(1 Ti 5:8 NIV)
A young woman brings home her fiancé to meet her parents. After dinner, her mother tells her father to find out more about the young man. The father invites the fiancé into his study. "So what are your plans?" the father asks the young man.
"I am a Bible scholar," he replies.
"A Bible scholar. Hmm," the father says. "Admirable, but what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in as she's accustomed to?"
"I will study," the young man replies, "and God will provide for us."
"And how will you buy her a beautiful engagement ring such as she deserves?" asks the father.
"I will concentrate on my studies," the young man replies, "and God will provide for us."
"And children?" asks the father. "How will you support children?"
"Don't worry, sir, God will provide," replies the fiancé.
The conversation proceeds like this, and each time the father questions, the young idealist insists that God will provide. Later the mother asks, "How did it go, honey?"
The father answers, "He has no job and no plans, but the good news is he thinks I'm God."
Citation: Brett Kays, Brownstown, Michigan, adapted from an e-mail
A. A Dependable Source of Support
B. A Discerning Source of Support
Ever wonder if the Lord really knows what you want and need?
David Smallbone felt God leading him to promote Christian concerts in his homeland, Australia, where only 5 percent of the people believed in Christ. When too few fans filled his seats during one major tour, however, David took a $250,000 bath in red ink.
Creditors repossessed his home, and the father of six looked for work elsewhere. A top artist offered him a job in Nashville, so the Smallbones sold their furniture and other possessions and purchased tickets to the United States.
A few weeks after they arrived, however, David was informed that his position was "no longer available." He literally could not get out of bed for several days. When he and his wife explained to their children what happened, they all got on their knees and asked God to help them.
Interesting things began to happen. God provided bags of groceries, a minivan, and odd jobs. Then the biggest surprise of all—a recording contract for David's oldest daughter, Rebecca, age 15. She recorded her first album using an old family name, St. James.
Flash forward to today. David promotes his own daughter's sold-out concerts. Rebecca St. James has become one of the hottest Christian artists in America. Christianity Today magazine has named her one of the top 50 up-and-coming evangelical leaders under age 40.
All along—no surprise—God knew what he was doing!
Citation: Christian Reader (January/February 2002), pp. 13-14; source: Luis Palau, It's a God Thing, www.palau.org/godthing
V. Conclusion: If our children are to have the role models in their fathers that they need, fathers will have to model themselves after their heavenly Father. Just as the Father above has an understanding and loving heart, and Just as He teaches and supports His children, so too must the earthly fathers provide love and understanding, always providing the security that comes with knowing you are provided for, and knowing your boundaries. Fathers must strive to supply the daily provisions of food and clothing, and the proper teaching of right and wrong, administered through a loving and understanding heart, Just as the true Model Father does for them.