June 16, 2021
By David VanEpps
Of all the blessings in the world, I love my role as husband and father more than anything. What an amazing honor. I’m proud to be the husband of a wonderful wife, who makes me smile and laugh and who treats me with the utmost love and respect. I’m also proud to be the father of two daughters and a few amazing bonus (step) children. Leading your family, however, comes with its share of challenges and with great responsibility. Fortunately, there’s a manual we can all count on.
As I was transitioning into married life and fatherhood, the two most well-known pop culture dads were Homer Simpson and Al Bundy. Neither did much for the reputation of fathers and husbands everywhere. The worldly view of the father was that of an uninvolved couch potato, who was virtually absent from the family.
Unfortunately, there’s an abundance of data that supports the impact on families where the father isn’t present. Most notably, children who never had a father living with them have been found to have the highest incarceration rates, and are at higher risk for early-age use of illicit substances. Children without involved fathers also have a greater likelihood of gang involvement, mental health issues, and substance abuse. The role of an engaged, loving father can not be overstated, but it also comes with great responsibility. Our children’s futures and eternities are at stake.
It’s hard to believe a book written nearly 2,000 years ago is still the most practical, useful set of instructions for husbands and fathers alike. The Bible is filled with marriage and parenting wisdom that applies to husbands and fathers today as much as it did then. God’s formula is simple, and it stands on the principle of love.
Consider some of this Biblical advice (all scripture from ESV):
- “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
- “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
- “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
- “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
- “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
- “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14).
- “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior” (Ephesians 5:22-23).
- “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25)
- “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself” (Ephesians 5:28)
- “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
- “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
- “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity” (Titus 2:7)
- “Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3)
Several themes resonate throughout these verses, and they are the best advice for leading our families. Love God above all else. Love others. Be patient and kind. Don’t be envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, self-centered, irritable, or resentful. Focus on truth, hope, and faithful endurance. Build others up. Husbands, lead and love your family the way Christ leads and loves the church. Teach your children in love, loving discipline and Godly instruction. Be a role model and show integrity and dignity. Don’t dominate your family, but rather be an example.
Leading a family is a blessing in so many ways. It’s an opportunity to love, to serve, and to live as the image of God. It’s so simple, yet we make it so hard.
Love God first. Everything revolves around love, and it’s not the casual word “love” that’s so often thrown around. Love, in this sense, is a deep-seated, true love. Love God, then love others. God is the head of everything. The husband is the head of the wife. That’s a powerful statement, but it’s not a statement of power, it’s a statement of love, responsibility, and leadership, as that love is then paralleled to how Christ is the head of the church. The children come after the marital relationship. Too many parents “worship” their children and place them above the marriage or even above God, but that’s not how God calls us to lead our families.
Husbands and fathers, I implore you to carve five minutes out of your day today. Re-read the scripture above. Think about what it means to be a husband and a father. Think about the responsibility with which God has entrusted you. Maybe you’re not happy with how you’ve handled this responsibility in the past, but the good news is that you have control over every minute of the rest of your life. Start now and become the best husband and father you can be. Lead your family the way God intended. The instructions are right there at your fingertips.
Photo Credit: Sebastián León Prado