Fathers are naturally acknowledged as heads of the family. They are looked upon as provider, protector and priest of the family. This is so because God himself had ordained it. And because of the special role that fathers do, God enshrined in the Ten Commandments the need for us to esteem them. He commanded, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). This becomes more significant when we see how our fathers discharge their roles as head of the family with much love and sacrifices.
One of the best ways to honour our fathers is to acknowledge the work that they do, and to be grateful. To do so develops deeper relationship with them and becomes very rewarding in the end. This can be gleaned from the Lord Jesus’ relationship with God. When he needed to perform one of the greatest miracles he had ever performed (the raising of Lazarus from the dead), he prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me” (John 11:41-42). He thanked the Father in advance even as he acknowledged that the Father always hear his prayer.
It is a fact that fathers carry a heavy load as they attend to the needs of their family. In spite of their efforts, they seem to be not well appreciated especially by their own children. In carrying out their primary roles as provider, protector and priest of the family, they are often misunderstood in these three areas:
Discipline. Fathers are known to be disciplinarians. This is part of their role as the protector of the family. They keep a watchful eye on their children to ensure that they are always out of harm’s way. But because of the sinful nature of children, they tend to drift from their father’s instructions. Being good and caring fathers, they would use the rod of discipline to bring their children back on track. Even King Solomon had said, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15). While the use of the rod might seem to be a cruel act, we are nevertheless told: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Prov. 13:24). A father’s discipline is akin to the Lord’s discipline which is grounded on love. Again, King Solomon said, “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.” (Prov. 3:11-12)
Advice. Fathers tend to give advice, albeit unsolicited, to ensure that their children are guided in the right path. Since they know their children’s strengths and weaknesses, having watched them grow up, they are quick to give advice when they see dangers coming. Often, children resent their fathers’ advice because they thought that their father’s advice is self-serving. But King Solomon said, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15). Children need to know that they are not all-knowing. They need the advice of others, especially their dad’s, because “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov. 15:22). No father would want to see their children fail. They always hope and pray that their children will succeed. Indeed, there is no better way to success than to listen to advice.
Dogma or doctrine. More often than not, fathers are looked upon by their children as too conservative in their belief system and in their conviction. And because they tend to be strict, they are resented by their own children. However, the fathers’ convictions are based largely on their own vast experiences and the delicate responsibility of ensuring their children’s emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Because the fathers themselves are limited in many ways, they would seek the guidance of the Lord. In teaching their children, they would rely on the Scriptures because, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Their motivation in being persistent in instructing their children was King Solomon’s admonition: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Prov. 22:6).
Difficult as it might seem to fully understand our fathers, they still deserve our respect, honor and love. Therefore, it is but appropriate for us to acknowledge them and say, “Thanks Dad!’ Hallelujah!