We see in Scripture and in the research, that because of the magnitude of his influence, the father—in one generation—will either significantly strengthen or deeply damaged almost every aspect of society through his direct impact on future generations. Every business is run by somebody who had a dad. Every ministry, every government, every church, every organization—where there’s somebody breathing—they had an earthly father.
We know the stats. Kids are more likely to abuse drugs, have depression, commit suicide, drop out of school, and struggle with anxiety—all because of fatherlessness. Earthly fathers have the power to affect how children think about God the Father. We think:
“If my earthly father loves and cares for me…then God loves and cares for me.”
“If my father means what he says, then God means what He says.”
“If my father would die for me, God would die for me.”
Sadly, this power earthly fathers have isn’t always on display in our homes. We need to set these roles in front of us as goals to model for our kids. Here are the 7 roles of a father.
Jesus taught us to pray…”Give us this day our daily bread.” The word “Father” means source. It’s about providing what your kids need to survive (food, clothing, shelter) and to SUCCEED. Jesus showed that the provision of an earthly father helps us to understand the provision of God.
For too many fathers, this is the primary extent of their fathering—providing for physical needs. They spend more time and energy on this than anything. But this isn’t all there is to be a father. Your kids need spiritual and emotional nourishment as well. They need your time, your attention, your love, your prayers.
It is a father’s job to give his children what they need to help them to survive and to succeed. But most importantly to know God, obey God, and do His will. An earthly father represents God our Father Who is a faithful PROVIDER.
The Bible calls God Jehovah Jireh, God my Provider. God has no problem supplying anything in any amount to anyone in any place at any time.
He fed the entire nation of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness.
He sent ravens to bring bread and meat to Elijah.
He fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish.
Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” In this time of social, political, and economic unrest, believers must remember that God will provide for them.
Role #2: A Strong Protector
Jesus said we should pray to the Father to “Deliver us from evil.” Matthew 2:13 says God wakes up Joseph and says, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”
A father is a strong protector. He protects what is priceless to Him. Think about it:
Football teams lose if they have no plan for defense.
Nations fall if they don’t have a national defense.
The point is: the father is the Head of the Department of Defense in his family.
Physically, we are to protect our kids from physical harm. Research shows that human trafficking is connected to fatherlessness. The majority of those in the porn industry have come from fatherless homes. We know from Scripture that Job got down on his knees and interceded on behalf of his children. It’s recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke that a man whose son was demon-possessed came up to Jesus and knelt down and interceded, begging Jesus to deliver his son from a demon.
We should be praying for our kids to deliver them from evil and lead them away from temptation.
A man has to step up and say, our family is not going to watch those kinds of shows or not visit those kinds of websites. We should be guarding the music they listen to, what friends they have, and what movies they watch. The father who protects says, “I love you too much, not to shield you and protect you.”
Men, are you stepping up as the PROTECTOR of your kids? Are you preparing them to trust God as their Heavenly Father who can deliver them from every kind of evil?
Role #3: A Loving Leader
When Jesus was baptized, He heard His Heavenly Father proclaim to the world, “This is my beloved son, my son whom I love. In whom I am well pleased.”
A father is to lead with love. Every one of your kids needs to know that you deeply love them. When a child has a dad who says, “I love you, I’m proud of you, and I’m going to stand with you and always be there for you,” it changes the life of that child forever.
You are also the captain of the OFFENSE in your family. You don’t need anyone’s permission to lead. You have God’s authority. Some of the greatest and most significant decisions of our lives happened because our dad gave us solid counsel and direction when we needed it most.
We are to do the WILL of our FATHER. That means He has a plan for our lives and is directing our steps. He is leading us. Consider the devil’s strategy: if you were on a battlefield, who would you shoot at? If you are playing chess, how do you win? If you want to keep a team out of the Superbowl, just put the quarterback out of commission.
When fathers are not leading, major consequences occur. The Book of James talks about people who live in affliction….you know who they are? The fatherless and widows. What do these people have in common? The male leadership role has been removed from their lives.
Fatherlessness is a big problem to God—whether dad is not present or simply not engaged with his family. David Blankenhorn said in his book, Fatherless America, “Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend in this generation. It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society. It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems. From crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse, to domestic violence against women.”
Role #4: A Willing Helper
God calls Himself a Helper to the Fatherless. Jesus said that the Father would send the Helper in the form of the Holy Spirit to assist us in our daily lives. Earthly fathers must view themselves as willing servant leaders to come alongside their children on a daily basis.
The willing helper is willing to get their hands dirty. He looks for ways to help his children get through each season of life to find God’s will and be found faithful to Him. Fathers have been given authority and placed in the driver’s seat and often don’t know it.
Role #5: A Truthful Teacher
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children…but bring them up in the instruction of the Lord.”A father is biblically supposed to be the head of a child’s Department of Education.
Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:1-4:
Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, And give attention that you may gain understanding, 2 For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction. 3 When I was a son to my father, Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, 4 Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live;
The Book of Proverbs is filled with what a Father should teach to his children.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall diligently teach them…” A father should teach the faith and practically how to do stuff:
Tie a shoe
Ride a Bike
Write a Check
Balance a Budget
Drive a Car
Survive this crazy world
You get the idea. But when do you do all of this teaching? Well, teach your kids around mealtime, travel time, and bedtime—these are all good times to teach things to your kids.
My dad, all growing up had us in church. He would talk to us about what He was learning at work. He would read the Bible out loud at home. He would buy us good books. He would send us audiotapes and say, “Listen to this powerful message.”
Listen and understand, when a father is speaking into the ears of his children, he is also speaking into the ears of his great, great, grandchildren. God our Father sends His Word to teach us, His Son to teach us, and His Spirit to teach us all things.
Role #6: A Hopeful Encourager
Hebrews 12 speaks of God encouraging us like a Father would his children. “When children feel the love of God flowing through your heart into theirs when they hear the Word of God boldly pouring from your lips, and when they see the power of God at work through your changed life and answered prayer, they will be drawn to know, love, and follow the God of their father.”
Now we could end this post here, and all feel bad about our lives. But, there is a problem. Dads hearing this can be overwhelmed with their failure. We can also look at our own fathers and feel like, “Man I wish my dad could have done these things.”
There is a theme throughout Scripture of the imperfection and the inadequacy of sinful, human fathers. They are sinful. They are evil. They are limited. They fail.
We see this theme throughout Scripture:
Acts 7:39 says, “Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient…”
Jesus said, “If you being evil…”
Psalms 78:1-8 says, “That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children…That they should put their confidence in God…and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
There is another theme throughout Scripture of the perfect nature and the unlimited nature of God as Father. We read about:
His NATURE: Matthew 5:48 says, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
HIS PROVISION: James 1:17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
His WILL: Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this (broken evil world), but be transformed, His will is described as good, pleasing, and perfect.”
God is the perfect Father that you have always longed for and wished for and never had. There is a biblical transition from us looking to our earthly fathers and looking to our Heavenly Father instead: God created father on earth to reflect his own nature as Father. God created the role of fatherhood with an eternal purpose: to reveal and represent Himself.
God wanted a man’s children to know Him as their Father, pray to Him as Father, trust Him as their Father, receive His teaching, discipline, and blessing as their Father, run to Him as their refuge and protection as our Father, receive His instruction as our Father, submit to Him as our Father, and become an intimate Friend of God…so God gave you to them on earth as their earthly father to prepare the way.
Role #7: A Compassionate Friend
Psalms 103:13-14 says, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”
Sometimes it is difficult to know when to show comfort and when to tell your kids to quit whining and grow up. Kids need both. The pivotal moment in the Prodigal Son story is when the father looks up and is moved with compassion and ran to his returning son. Second Corinthians 1 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.“
Compassion leads to friendship. Fathers are warned not to exasperate or embitter their kids. As they grow older into their teens and into adulthood, you will slowly become a more and more compassionate friend. Jesus said about friendship, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).There comes a day when we no longer call our kids servants, but friends.
Stephen Kendrick has dedicated his life to serving Jesus Christ and to making Him known around the world. He is a co-writer for the screenplays and books and the producer for Kendrick Brothers' films. Stephen has spoken to churches, conferences, and seminars around the nation, and has been interviewed by FOX and Friends, CNN, ABC World News Tonight, The Washington Post, and other media outlets. He is a co-founder and board member of the Fatherhood Commission. He graduated from Kennesaw State University and attended seminary before being ordained into ministry. Stephen and his wife, Jill, live in Albany, Georgia, with their six children. They are active members of Sherwood Church in Albany.