Of all things in life I’ve had the privilege to be a part of, being a Father and working together with my wife to raise our three children is one of the greatest blessings I can imagine. I’m honored to have the opportunity to be a father. There are few higher honors and no more important calling than to raise up our children in the Lord. The responsibilities of both parents are very important, but the more neglected role in modern society is that of the father.
The National Center for Fathering offers up a powerful infographic that thoroughly describes the epidemic of Fatherlessness by summarizing some of the research in the field. At the time this was produced in 2015, it showed the following data for children without fathers in the home, which unfortunately has most likely increased in the majority of the cases:
- 20 Million children infected with Fatherlessness in the US alone
- They are 4X more likely to be raised in poverty
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children don’t have a father in the home
- They are 10X more likely to abuse chemical substances
- 80% of the adolescents in psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes
- They are 2X more likely to commit suicide
- They are 9X more likely to drop out of school
- They are 11X more likely to have violent behavior
- They are 20X more likely to face incarceration
- They are 9X more likely to be raped or sexually abused
Not all fathers are good fathers, but just the absence of a father has a tremendous impact. In a famous 2008 address, then Senator Barak Obama gave a talk on fatherhood at one of the largest churches in Chicago. Here are a few highlights from that speech:
- “Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation.”
- “if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are missing — missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”
- “We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child — it’s the courage to raise one.”
- “It’s a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don’t just sit in the house and watch “Sports Center” all weekend long. That’s why so many children are growing up in front of the television. As fathers and parents, we’ve got to spend more time with them, and help them with their homework, and replace the video game or the remote control with a book once in a while.”
- “That is our ultimate responsibility as fathers and parents. We try. We hope. We do what we can to build our house upon the sturdiest rock. And when the winds come, and the rains fall, and they beat upon that house, we keep faith that our Father will be there to guide us, and watch over us, and protect us, and lead His children through the darkest of storms into light of a better day.”
Whether you agree with his politics or not, at that time in history, he was willing to call on fathers to honor their responsibility to their children, which should be something we can all agree on. The two parent household is the foundation for a stable world and as believers we should do everything we can too support families staying together. We should lead the way by standing up and taking responsibility to be fully engaged in leading our families to walk with the Lord. The local church is vitally important, but faith begins in the home.
As the Bible rightly notes, “ Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Psalm 127:3–4 They are a blessing and a stewardship. Dads here are some specific commands from Scripture to encourage you in this vitally important role:
- “Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26 — As parents, living our lives in the fear of the Lord builds a secure framework for our children to flourish in.
- “The righteous lead blameless lives; blessed are their children after them.” Proverbs 20:7 — our children are blessed by our righteous, blameless lives. As we live according to the guidance of Scripture, not only are we blessed, but our children benefit as well.
- “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21 — Fathers, we specifically are given the command not to lead our children to bitterness. How many of the negative outcomes above are impacted by an absent (physically or emotionally) father who embitters their children.
- “These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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.” Deuteronomy 6:6–7 — We are to teach our children the truth
- “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” — Proverbs 13:24 — We show our love to our children by caring about their lives enough to correct them and steer them back on the right path when they veer away.
- “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” — 1. Thessalonians 2:11–12 — What a beautiful picture of a father’s role, encouraging, comforting and urging towards a life lived for God’s glory.
If you are father, take your calling and responsibility seriously. It is not too late to do the right thing with your kids. Much of what is wrong in modern societies is impacted by the epidemic. In your family, in your life, and in your community, take that seriously and do whatever you can to help families stay together and to call the men in our communities to step up and receive the great honor that it is to be a father.