By Pastor Jeffery Archie
“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
1 Corinthians 4:15 (KJV)
I recently watched a portion of a sitcom where the role of the father reflected the societal norms of today. In the sitcom, the father was belittled by his children, berated by his wife, and in general displayed the mentality of a simpleton. In fact, what was thematic throughout the plot was that the parents were both out of touch with reality and needed the guidance of the children in order for the family unit to resolve its problems.
Our children are regularly being fed this stream of information through the classroom, the media, the internet, and other sources, that have too often become the foundation for teaching our children on a daily basis.
Nowadays, the idea of face to face communication is often lost to texting and other means of non-personal communication. Our ‘sources’ of information are often at the tip of our fingers and therefore, the art of engaging in actual conversation and teachable moments are lost.
In Deuteronomy 6, the Bible reminds fathers that it is their responsibility to instruct and lead their families. And, this was often done in communal settings that provided the counsel of those experienced in life and the issues that it can bring.
Additionally, the Bible admonishes us to seek the counsel of the elders for wisdom. As a matter of fact, much of my own teaching, as a youth, was done in this manner, as I was instructed in the home as well as the church. I spent many evenings with men of integrity who helped form my faith and gave me the guidance that I needed as a man for the raising of my own family.
Paul tells the Corinthians that as their ‘father’ who birthed them in the gospel, that he wasn’t there just to babysit them, but he had an accountability to them.
The word ‘instructors’ is the word paidagogos, which was a guardian (usually a slave), who conducted a boy to and from school. Their role was to maintain the general welfare and oversee the conduct of the child. There was no deep lifelong commitment to the boy under his charge.
However, Paul’s role as a father was much more emotional and loving. He presented himself as their ‘patera’; one responsible for guidance in faith and behavior. He wanted the Corinthians to understand that guardians were temporary, but a father’s role is permanent.
While you cannot depend upon a guardian to carefully watch over you, a true father does. While a guardian would only fulfill his responsibility because of the benefit he may derive from his actions, a father’s motivation centers on the true needs of his child.
God is often presented in scripture as a father. In fact, Jesus, when asked by his disciples about prayer, invited them to address God as “Abba” Father or “Daddy”. This was shocking to those who heard him because God was viewed as distant and not intimate. Only the actual children could address the father in this manner. The slave would never do this.
A recent statistic I read stated, that “Of about 94 million men in the United States….68 million don’t attend church…”
As a pastor, I am often confronted with this reality. I see almost daily the hunger for a father’s guidance. I often meet young men who because they didn’t have the presence of a positive male role model, ended up in trouble. Their ‘family’ becomes their peers and less positive influences who often point them in a negative direction.
We are built to seek the approval of those we value (whether we admit it or not). And, I have discovered over time that how we view fathers can determine how we view God. So, if we as fathers reflect more of God, then our children would perhaps see God as their father in a different light. Thus, as fathers we must stand in a time such as this and become the fathers that God wants us to be, which, requires wisdom that can only come from a committed walk with the Lord.