After Mother’s Day was officially recognized in 1914, a campaign was launched to have a day to honor Fathers. Sadly, it did not meet with as much success as Mother’s Day. One florist hilariously explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” It wasn’t until 58 years later in 1972 that Father’s Day was officially recognized. To save you time and energy in the future, there is only one thing Father’s want on Father’s Day…a nap! This Father’s Day let us praise God for Fathers and, like we did on Mother’s Day, encourage him to cultivate his most important relationships.
Relationship #1: With the Lord
The first relationship a father must cultivate is between him and the Lord. The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). You don’t have to be a perfect father, but you should want to be a good father. If you want to be a good father, become a godly father. Jesus calls you to “be born again” (John 3:3). You need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He must be your Lord and Savior. Dads, there is no higher priority or more important relationship than between you and the Lord.
Relationship #2: With Himself
The second relationship a father must cultivate is between him and himself. This is similar to what we told mothers on Mother’s Day. If this surprises you or you have trouble believing it, remember what Jesus said about the second greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Did you notice those two words at the end? The implication is that we take care of and love ourselves. Our love for others is to be modeled after our love for ourselves. Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus, “Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Eph 5:28). The implication is that you have a healthy relationship with yourself or as someone once said, “You feel comfortable in your own skin.” The reason I have listed this relationship second is because if this relationship is wrong, it will have a drastic effect on all other relationships. Loving yourself (in this context) does not mean you exalt yourself or love yourself first, but that you think of yourself and measure your worth through God’s eyes. When your first relationship is correct, you don’t think less of yourself than you ought or more of yourself than you ought but think of yourself as God does. With this relationship being healthy, you can follow the Golden Rule: “Just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31).
What does this mean for fathers? First, it helps you fight off hypocrisy. When you embrace God’s great love for you, you feel less of a need to project a false image of yourself. Dads, you do not have everything figured out and you do not have to burden yourself with the appearance of perfection. It’s okay to admit you don’t have all the answers and you need help. It doesn’t mean you are less of a man; it means you are human. This brings us to the next implication: it helps you remember that you must continue to grow. One of the worst things a father can do is “put it in neutral” and check out. Men need challenges for them to overcome. I love the story of Caleb who at 85 years of age told Joshua, “Give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim (giants) were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said” (Josh 14:12).
Relationship #3: With His Wife
The third relationship a father must cultivate is between him and his wife (if married). The New Testament makes it clear that husbands should love their wives (Eph 5:25, Col 3:19). Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” Your love for your wife is not just in word but in action. Indeed, it is to be demonstrated through sacrifice. Jesus loves the church sacrificially. He “nourishes and cherishes it” (Eph 5:29). How you treat your wife affects your relationship with God. Peter wrote that a husband should be understanding with his wife, honoring her “so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 12:4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.” Proverbs 19:14 says, “Health and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
Relationship #4: With His Family
The fourth relationship a father must cultivate is between him and his children. The husband is set up by God to be the head of the home with wives submitting to their husbands and helping him lead. Men, before you get a big head and start barking out orders, this means you are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the family. Your wife works to help and encourage you and you will be held accountable by God. Male headship has more to do with responsibility than authority. The Bible explicitly says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Fathers must be on guard against provoking their children. Be present in their lives and show them you care. Rarely has a child grown up with bitterness towards his/her father because they were around and loving.
Relationship #5: With the World
The last relationship a father must cultivate is between him and others. He must be committed to his God-given mission: The Great Commission. He desires to live his life as a living sacrifice and an instrument in God’s hands to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). It has been said that Edmund Burke said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Also, keep in mind what Dwight Moody once said, “A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian and most of all, his family ought to know.”