Summary: Paul outlines important principles of Christian leadership and the job description of every godly father.
Just Like A Dad
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: Today we honor our dads and by extension all of the men who play such important roles in the lives of our church and families. Being a dad has its challenges. As one cynic noted, children go through four stages. First they call you DaDa. Then they call you Daddy. As they mature they call you Dad. Finally they call you collect.
Our text today is a continuation of the one we read a few weeks ago when we launched this year’s Season of the Family. The passage uses both the metaphor of mother and father to illustrate the Apostle Paul’s attitude toward the young Christians he had helped introduce to Christ a few months before. Like a mother, the missionary had demonstrated gentle strength, genuine affection, and generous sacrifice. Then he turns the word-picture ever so slightly. He was also like a father to them, he says. Our text is really about Christian leadership. But in describing that, it also outlines a godly father’s job description. Note three qualities that we appreciate in the men and fathers in this church:
First, our men and dads set an example. Most men are doers. They prefer action. They would rather work than talk about it. Psychologists point to this as one of the real differences between men and women. Most of you know from magazine articles or television reports that males and females differ in more ways than the obvious. Scientists say it has to do with brain chemistry, hormones, and the way the right and left halves of our brains function. All kinds of degrees of difference exist. But generally speaking, most men are less verbal than most women. Most women also tune into feelings and emotions much better than most men. Women pick up on things that go right over most men’s heads. The difference is real.
Both moms and dads, men and women, need to set an example for their young. But they do it in different ways. Dads set examples of hard work, courage, and initiative. From their dads, boys learn how to handle adversity, confront obstacles, and keep on going even when it’s hard. Boys and girls need to see that from both parents, especially dads.
Dads provide an important religious example as well. Kids will often model their moms’ attitudes toward church and the things of faith. But more often than not, boys follow their dad’s behavior. Note how Paul describes his example in our text. Verse 10, “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” Those three words—holy, righteous, and blameless describe things every kid needs to see in the men around them. The word for holy describes one’s duty toward God. It refers to commitment and spiritual discipline. Righteousness stresses a person’s relationship with other people. It refers to honesty, fairness, and integrity. Blameless doesn’t mean perfect or sinless. It describes a man whose conduct can stand the scrutiny of examination. His isn’t just a surface religion. Kids need to see that such men exist. Dads (and other men in the church) provide that example.
Dads provide an example of consistent conduct. They also provide words of encouragement. This is where the text zeroes in on the father idea. Note verses 11 and 12, “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.” Did you catch the three talk-terms—encouraging, comforting, and urging? Because most men tend toward quiet strength, their words become doubly important to their young.
All three of these terms are similar. But each carries a slightly different emphasis. The word translated as encouragement literally means to stand or come along side. The ancients used the term for everything from an army that came to the rescue of an embattled village to a friend who lifts the spirits of a downcast neighbor. Every child needs encouragement. They need to know their dads stand with them, that they believe in them, that they are there for them. Most moms do that more naturally than most dads. Guys have to try harder.
Author Dan Benson, in his book The Total Man observed that a lot of dads tend to say ten negative words to their children for every positive one. Benson writes, “Most fathers are really good at words like “Don’t,” “You can’t,” “Stop that,” or “No.” But they’re not nearly as good at the positive words.” Benson suggests that we could change the whole personality of our relationship with our children if we just learned to speak positively. Maybe that’s why the New Testament says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Col 3:21).