|A Father's Responsibility
By: Dick Karman
More than any other aspect of the Christian life, the goal of spirituality is often pursued but seldom obtained. Paul wrote about it in the third chapter of Philippians: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I remind myself that there are times when I don't even recognize the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, because there are so many things around me which distract my attention.
Look out for number one!
It's a piece of advice that you don't get in Christian circles very often, but fathers, I exhort you to make your main concern your own spirituality. I think of it like the emergency air masks in an airplane. The safety recitation tells those who are sitting next to smaller children to first secure the mask on your own face then see to the masks of children around you. Without air you won't last to be able to take care family members around you. The analogy holds for spiritual things.
God's word reminds us all to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33) Even in being a father, seeking His righteousness comes before fathering. As your children are growing up they'll need someone to help them secure their "spiritual oxygen mask" from time to time. If you don't have yours on, you will only be able to offer weak or non-existent support for their needs. Don't fall into the excuses of "I must take care of my wife's needs before my own." Don't say, "I don't get time for a Bible study because I have to earn a living to support my children." These sound great to the in-laws, or to folks at work, but what are they saying to your sons: "When I'm a father, I don't need Bible study or prayer time." Remember that you are the only example he has to follow here on earth. Give him the role model that boys need to have.
Take care of your family
Nearly a century ago a cute songwriter set words to music: "Who's taking care of the caretakers daughter while the caretaker busy taking care?" Who, as men in the Christian community, are we caring for? The support group? The local church? For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? (1 Timothy 3:5) Take the proper time to have your spiritual house in order! This doesn't mean having large bank accounts or worldly possessions. After all, what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36) Or loose the souls of his wife and children?
When we get all wrapped up in responsibilities, it's good to keep simple truths in mind: Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34) But you say "spirituality isn't simple. It has so many do's and don'ts."
Start simply with Micah 6:8: He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
When you accomplish just those three areas you have a good beginning. To do justly requires justice. To do justly requires the same type of knowledge of God's law (His word) as a judge has of the civil laws. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
But also like the judge it is important to know the intent of the law and the reasons behind it. This is part of what it means to love mercy. God's mercy is often depicted in His grace, and God's grace tempers His perfect righteousness. You say, "sometimes this isn't possible!" But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)
Probably the hardest of the original three is to walk humbly with your God. Humility is frequently the hardest character trait to teach young people (and older folks, too), because it is difficult to recognize the humble when you're being overpowered by the crass, arrogant, and self-centered folks all around us. It has been said that when walking with God humility comes naturally because you are walking with one who is perfect in every way, yet I submit to you that He expects us to walk humbly around all men and that is substantially more of a challenge.
Some of the best material written on humility comes from God's word: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
One of my favorites, which I have yet to come close to is in Philippians 2:1-3 If there be therefore any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compasion, make my joy complete by beind of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another s more important than himself.
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5:5-6)
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility. (Proverbs 15:33)
Once you have been striving for the high calling of Christ Jesus by doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly, remember what God reminded us to do in Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
This article is available for reprint in a "hard copy" publication by permission ONLY. To request permission to reprint A Father's Responsibility, please click here.