Yesterday I wrote about REAL heroes vs. fantasy heroes. Today, with Father’s Day just around the corner, I’m encouraging dads and grandpas to be REAL heroes. Don’t point your children to ungodly sports figures, politicians, movie stars, singers, or comic book type figures to have as heroes. Be The Dad—may I say Super Dad?—be a hero to your own child/grandchild!
What is a hero?
One writer put it this way: “A hero is someone who puts their own well being and comfort aside in order to help someone else. This is the definition of love! Shouldn’t YOU be the hero in your child’s life—a real (true), living, breathing, flesh-and-blood, day-in/day-out hero? ... Your child needs you to be his or her daily present hero, as you lead them to the Ultimate Hero who will never leave them or forsake them.”
To be a real hero takes time and commitment. Many dads come home tired after a hard day at work; they’re either physically beat or mentally exhausted—sometimes both. Unfortunately, that’s when a dad’s real work begins. Mustering up the strength to spend time with his family and pulling together the mental acuity to deal with questions pouring out of a young child’s mouth while discerning the emotional and spiritual needs of wife and children is the real work of fatherhood. Yes, “This looks like a job for Super Dad!”
Younger children are easily enthralled with their dads—God gave us that easy start. What will you do with it from there? It takes time; it takes work; and it takes real commitment to keep their heart into the teen and adult years. Rules without relationship breeds rebellion and relationship without rules eventually breeds contempt. It’s up to us to be there in the moment—not easily sidetracked with cell phones and other things—keeping their hearts and constantly pointing them to the Father’s loving grace and the atoning work of Christ.
I have one daughter who regularly asks me what I want for my birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc. She has come to expect this answer before she even asks—“I want all my children to love Jesus and walk in His ways.” Yes, it’s borrowed from 3 John 1:4; but it’s the truth and puts before her mind my real desire and expectation. So, the question is: How badly do I want that? What am I willing to put into “my own present?”
During today’s The Briefing program, Al Mohler had a 10 minute segment called “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and the role of parents & churches in America's teenage spiritual crisis.” It’s a very important 10 minutes and I urge you to listen to it (click here). This segment talks about the current crisis of children growing out of their belief in God and distancing themselves from the community of faith in which they were raised. Perhaps this segment is best summed up by this statement from Mohler:
“It becomes increasingly clear that the majority of American teenagers are not rejecting doctrines they have been taught; rather, they’ve never been taught these doctrines at all. What they are doing is absorbing from the larger culture the doctrines of a secular age. The doctrines that come from moralism: the belief that all God really wants is that we behave, that we be nice. And therapeutic—meaning that we understand our problems primarily in therapeutic categories. We believe that there may be a problem with us but it’s something that can be resolved by feeling better about ourselves or coming to a more satisfactory self-identity. And then deism. Let’s be very clear, deism is a persistent heresy. It is the belief that there is some kind of god but not a god who is sovereign, ruling over the universe; not a god who cares particularly about me; not a god who desires a personal relationship with me; but rather just a generalized deity who probably created the world and has some relationship to it but only in the most distant and abstract sense.”
How devastating! This research shows a very real and present danger for my children and yours. Again, listen to this segment; read the companion article which Mohler wrote in 2005; then realize that we—as dads—have a vitally important role to play in the lives of our children. We have a responsibility to the God of heaven, to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to our children (and society) to live out real, Biblical Christianity.
It’s not enough to wish that our children will love Jesus and walk in His ways. It’s not enough to just take them to church and expect them to catch true Christianity; actually, that is more likely to act as an inoculation.
So, what’s a dad to do? Following the example of our Heavenly Father, let’s be super-dads.
Live a holy life as an example to follow; leading our wife and children in the way they should go.
Build a relationship with your children and explain very plainly what you expect from them (expect no less from yourself); “charge” them to a life of holiness.: "For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory." 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
Of course, a passionate family devotional life is vital. Include special, regular times of individual training and study as well. It’s exciting to see a child/teen’s reaction to a truth they hadn’t realized before. Building spiritual memories is just as important—if not more important—as fun family memories. By the way, fun and spiritual do not have to be, nor should they be, mutually exclusive.
Pray with and for your children. Pray for their future spouse and your grandchildren (should the Lord tarry). Prayer is a vital part of a personal relationship with God.
Dads, we can’t just assume because we love God that our children will. Neither can we just assume that they know we love them. It’s up to us to spend time with them—showing and telling them that we love them. It’s up to us to point them to the God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son in our place. It’s up to us to show them we believe—belief is an action word—and point them to this atoning Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Even in all of this, there are no guarantees. We are only planting, watering, and fertilizing; it is God who gives the increase. After all, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast!
I am well-acquainted with a grandfather who is burdened to be this kind of “hero” to his grandson. I see him do these very things and expect that God will honor his faithfulness. Listen, this is not only a war for this present generation; this is a generational battle that will reach far into the future. The effects of our actions today will long be felt when even our names are no longer remembered.
We can’t do this in our own power; to be a super dad we must rely on the super power of God. Here’s my desire for Father’s Day: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4) What’s yours?
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