The Fatherhood Example
The Apostle Paul the Pattern, Every Father the Mentor
Key Text: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
In the soon to be released book MANHOOD: Let the Truth Be Told, Promise Keepers President Dr. Thomas Fortson shares this story:
Modeling has the basic idea of a pattern or sample. I was observing some construction workers near our home, framing a new house. I noticed piles of short 2x4s in various lengths, ranging from less than two inches to about five inches. One worker ran a large radial arm saw, cutting a specified number of each of the sizes. At the conclusion of cutting a certain length stud, he would stop to reset the saw. I expected to see him take out a tape measure for the adjustment; instead he pulled up a 2x4 stud that was marked ‘model’ and the number of inches and fraction noted.
As he continued, I noticed that after running a batch through, cutting off a piece of each, the saw operator would pause momentarily and pull up the ‘model 2x4’ and check to see if the adjustment stop had slipped or had been bumped by the continued pushing in and pulling out of lumber.
He counted on this model stick to keep things accurate. It dawned on me that I was the ‘model stick’ for my son. Neither the model nor the fresh-cut stud were beautiful. Both were still a work in progress, but they represented adherence to the standard. Do we measure our young people against the standard frequently? Do they have the opportunity to see for themselves if they measure up?
Just as the model’s length was set, not by itself, but by a standard measured by a master builder, so we fathers are to be models who have been shaped by the Master Craftsman. Our children should be able to look at us to see what a devoted, godly man should be. The apostle Paul calls upon leaders – who father –to be the models.
The model helps keep the standard accurate. People (you and I) become the standard bearers. The Apostle fulfills his God given role by ‘being’ God’s man. His personal characteristics give an example to mothers and fathers that is strategic to accomplish the task. 2 Timothy 2:2 gives the biblical pattern of transference and multiplication. A paraphrase of this text could be: “Truth from and about Christ, publicly proclaimed by me, heard or read by you, shared with others who get it clearly and kept straight and taught to yet additional learners.”
Paul acknowledges that both the people and God are witnesses to the way he lives. Talk about a transparent life; here it is! It’s especially important for our discussion today because we’ll be observing applications for fathers in relation to their children.
There is a story of a man walking through deep snow during a winter storm. He became aware of some noise behind him, and looking over his shoulder saw his very young son hopping from one footprint in the snow to the next. He not only was watching his father, but imitating him by stepping exactly into each footprint. There was no ‘do as I say but not as I do’ for Paul, nor should there be for us either. The style of Paul’s everyday life showed diligent work and open transparency to others.
What were those ‘footprints’ of the Apostle that we should follow?Three specific words describe them. Let me give them and explain them with a few phrases and comments.
- Holy – Now there’s a church word for sure! Think of it as a God-like characteristic, pure and unpolluted, consistently showing integrity, not limited to appearance or image but true, even in hidden motive. This is not surreal or other worldly. This in fact was lived out in a blatantly offensive, hostile and pagan culture.
- Righteous – In every day language it is doing what is right, even if it’s costly or hard. It is living out the standards of God even against all odds in a dishonest and often critical and hostile place. For Paul, it even resulted in his stoning and being left for dead. God raised him up through the prayers of other believers to go forward, focused on his mission and not holding anger against those who had harmed him. Dad, your right choices are often seen by your children in keeping your promises to them and your wife. they are seen as they see you carry out ministry to others in the Name of Jesus Christ. You may seldom hear someone call you a righteous person, but people who see spiritual consistency in your life may refer to you while talking to a fellow officemate as a “person with sterling character,” that is an A+ for the cause of Christ. The only thing better than that is to have your own children, when grown to young adulthood, view you with that honorific memory. If they do that, they will likely also be walking closely with the Lord themselves.
- Blameless – A less common expression, but holding the idea of one who could not be held guilty of causing shame to the cause of Christ. One whose careful and Godly (or Holy and Righteous) lifestyle was without justified criticism. Recall the instruction of the qualifications for the church office of overseer, or Elder. “Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to much wine, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2-3). That’s a tall order for any of us, but it is God’s will.
With the characteristics of holiness, righteousness and being blameless as our personal priorities, even if not perfectly practiced, we then should ask ourselves, “How can I pass them on?”
We have all heard the statement, “You can’t lead where you have not yet gone yourself.” You also will fail to be successful in sharing the values of your life if you fail to be connected to your children.
[Insert clip 1 here – Dennis Rainey – Protecting Your Children]
The text today shares three important verbs that can help us. They are not the content of our communication as much as the style of that transfer. Paul uses these terms of description of a Father to describe how we as Dads may interact with our young people. Here are his words:
- Encouraging – Everybody appreciates that style! In a normally negative culture where too much of the news is bad news; we can all use a big dose of encouragement. We each will have to choose our own words. It will be better if we can crack a smile! A bit of humor goes a long way as well. How will you know if you’re getting your point across? Look at the response. Is your son or daughter more courageous? Are they less afraid of the situations that their life is dishing up at school or in relationships with others? Encouragement is not focusing on what’s wrong but giving courage, literally to “take heart” that what’s right will move forward. That the good things, the discipline in school work, the reliability in their work is in fact paying off, not just in the eyes of their boss, but in their personal work ethic and character.
- Comforting – The soft voice of calm in a world of loud strident voices. The angry, harsh yelling of frustrated youth who want to find their way without wise adult guides to supply boundaries and a “North Star.” Your young people collect many times over the amount of critical comments and pressured expectations that you of their parents generation did. This does not even address the spillage of out of control kids who are just angry and snap at anything near by. Dad, please listen to me! Your young people need your words of comfort to bring the quiet sanctuary of calm as well as a spirit of hopefulness into their life. If your personal decibel dial needs to be turned down dad, do it before inflicting your frustration on your kids rather than calming some of theirs.
- Urging you to live lives worthy of God – That sounds good, but what does it mean? In a sentence it could be said this way: As a Father I will attempt to recruit my daughters and sons to join a life long journey as a Christ-follower. Christ will always out perform me, clearly has the advantage to out live me, and will by His Spirit go with my Children through every event in this life and the next.
Fatherhood is a powerful image. Fatherhood can be intimidating to a man. He has his wife, his job, his children, often his aging parents. The activities and hobbies of all of them compete for his attention. Beside all this, he is aware that spiritually, the picture that his children have of their Father God is strongly impacted by how well he as Daddy does his job as Father.
[Insert clip 2 here – Dennis Rainey - A Father Guides His Son]
It is never inappropriate to pray blessing and wisdom for ‘dear old Dad.’
Join me now to do just that.