Proverbs 17:6 – “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.”
With every title we inherit comes a Biblical job description complete with God’s blessing. Immediately after creating Adam and Eve, God commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). One God’s purposes for marriage was offspring who would fill the earth with God’s praise and glory. Here are ten characteristics of a Godly father:
1. A Godly father knows God. Many men want their children to have a relationship with God lack it themselves. Children model what they see. If Dad does not consider obedience to God important, why should they? So, godly fatherhood begins within the heart of a man. He considers his own relationship with God the most important one in his life and models that godliness for his children (Jude 1:20).
2. A Godly father loves and honors his wife. It has been said that the best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother. When children grow up watching healthy, loving interactions between their parents, they naturally seek to imitate that in their own marriages. Even if a man is divorced or single, he can still model respectful behavior toward his child’s mother (Ephesians 5:25, 28).
3. A Godly father accepts responsibility for his children’s spiritual training. While providing financially for a family is an important responsibility for fathers (1 Timothy 5:8), it is not their only responsibility. While he may delegate much of the day-to-day teaching to his wife, a godly father still bears responsibility. He should pray with his children, talk about what the Bible teaches thereby encouraging Christian character and setting expectations of behavior for his children.
4. A Godly father is continually aware of his influence. “Do what I say, not what I do” has been the unfortunate attitude of many fathers. Little eyes observe and learn from watching Dad’s behavior, regardless of what he says he believes. Sons, in particular, need male role models to show them how to become men. As God leads dads (Psalm 32:8) so dads lead and influence their children.
5. A Godly father models selfless service. Much of Jesus’ earthly life was given to serving others. As followers of Jesus, we are to imitate that service (Matthew 20:28). Godly fathers figure out ways to involve their little ones in that service. When children grow up watching Dad quietly serve the Lord without expectation of reward, they internalize those values.
6. A Godly father is consistent. Nothing confuses children more than inconsistency, either in discipline or example. Godly fathers are not overcome with anger, but practice forgiveness (Proverbs 10:12). If Dad says he is going to do something, do it. Children need to know what to expect from their fathers as well as how to live their own lives.
7. A Godly father disciplines his children appropriately. Hebrews 12:9–10 reminds us that earthly fathers discipline us for our own good and our heavenly Father does the same. Wise discipline helps children learn to control themselves and keeps them out of serious trouble (Proverbs 13:24; 18:19). Correct discipline is not abusive, vengeful, or sporadic. A child should know where the boundary lines are, and he should also know with absolute certainty what happens when he crosses those lines.
8. A Godly father does not allow himself to be controlled by outside influences. Addictions, such as alcohol, drugs, or pornography, often create a home environment marked by insecurity, fear, and depression. Fathers who display addictive behaviors often teach their children to do the same. Godly fathers are controlled only by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Children tend to adopt whatever gods their parents consistently worshiped; thus, alcohol and drug abuse is passed from generation to generation (see Exodus 20:4–5). However, children who watch their fathers run to Jesus with their problems can learn to imitate that healthy behavior.
9. A Godly father is a man under authority. Due to his sinful nature, a man will fight to be his own boss. However, Jesus demonstrated that He was a Man under the authority of His heavenly Father (John 5:19; 12:49). He readily gave credit to God for His successes and submitted Himself fully to the will of God (John 8:29). A godly father will live as a man under God’s authority and that of God-given earthly institutions, such as employment, church, and government (1 Peter 2:18; Romans 13:1–2; Hebrews 13:17).
10. A Godly father will lead. The world is in desperate need of men who will lead wisely. Leadership is not domination or control, but setting the pace for the family; on the lookout for dangers; taking initiative to protect his family. He meets first with God (Psalm 32:8) so that the family has confidence that he is following the direction of God.
Regardless of a man’s past or his own parentage, he has the potential to be a godly father. If he seeks the Lord with all his heart (Proverbs 3:5–6), strives to keep his priorities straight and lets love and humility define him, any Christian father can become a man that his children are honored to call “Dad.”
Men: what do your children call you? Consistently putting God first, in the short and the long-term of life, impacts your children well beyond your own years.