By Chad Napier, Crosswalk.com
If your church is anything like mine, males between the ages of 18 and 50 are scarce.
We don’t have a large congregation, but this age group is so sparse that in past years a male over the age of 50 has won the “Youngest Father” in attendance on Father’s Day.
Another sad indictment is reflected on Youth Sunday when the youth of the congregation take over an entire service. They lead the congregation in songs and give a message through skits or a play. You can look out through the congregation and guess what? No fathers watching these 10-15 kids serve the Lord. Other than support from our Lord and the church congregation, the lack of presence from fathers is very discouraging.
Interestingly, fathers do not seem concerned that their young sons have no desire to regularly attend or participate in the work of the church. Young men use the excuses of work responsibilities, the recreation of their children, or being just too tired to make it for a Sunday service.
Look through your Facebook feed of friends who are dads. They laud their son scoring five points in an intermural basketball game, getting a lead part in the school play, or making the Honor Roll for the current reporting period. But is there any mention of God or any participation in local church body?
Some Christian fathers were once active in church until their son reached an age to participate in sports. It seems then that any regard for spiritual matters nearly disappears.
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The Future of the Church Depends on It
Fathers need to be proactive in the lives of their young sons because the future of the church depends on it. These young sons are to be the future deacons, ushers, Sunday School teachers, music leaders, and pastors of our churches.
In many senses, young men are the present church. They, however, are in need of examples for future conduct before future correction is necessary.
Fathers Are Spiritual Leaders
Fathers are to be the chief executive spiritual officer of the family. In Ephesians 5:22-24, we are reminded that the husband is to be head of the home as Christ is the “head of the church.”
If a father is neglectful to Christ, he is likewise guilty in the neglect of his son.
An interesting question can be posed to the spiritually neglectful father: would your son have a better chance of being saved or more active in the church if you were not his father?
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The Futures of Fathers Depends on It
Fathers need to be proactive in the lives of their sons because their own future depends upon it. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phineas, were harshly but rightly labeled as “worthless men.” They played the role as priests, but were “scoundrels” and “did not know the Lord” as reflected in 1 Samuel 2:12.
In verse 29, Eli was asked, “why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourself on the choice parts of every offering made?” Not only did the sons of Eli disregard the sanctity of the offerings, but also they prospered by them. Further, Eli himself was wrongfully nourished by the sins of his sons.
Compare Eli to the actions of today’s fathers who are attempting to live out their secular dreams through their young sons. Wrongful emphasis is placed on success in sports and even academics without any regard to spiritual successes or growth.
Fathers who are not proactive with their sons may have religious sons, but not spiritual sons. The Bible may be on the family’s coffee table, but not given a priority as to the affairs of the family.
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Fathers Need to Lead Selflessly
A father who is not proactive in the lives of their sons allows their own interests take priority. In Genesis 19:1-11, Lot was confronted by a mob of men attempting to engage with the two male angels. In response, Lot offered the visitors his two daughters in their stead. Fearing for his own safety, he attempted to lure the riotous men with his own family by enticing them further. He offered that his daughters “have not known any man.”
If Lot would have been proactive and heeded the warnings of God sooner, his family would not have been subjected to the progressive exertions of evil. When a father is not proactive, his sons and entire family are subjected to the influence of evil and spiritual corruption.
Sons Need to be Shown Mercy
A father should be proactive in fostering a household of mercy and forgiveness in anticipation of the mistakes of his son. In the story of the prodigal son at Luke 15:11-32, the father made no mention of the transgression of the son when he returned home. In contrast, his older brother “became angry and refused to go in” and join in on the celebration at the house after learning of the mercy projected by his father.
By being proactive in having a forgiving spirit, the earthly father recognizes that a child who is taught of spiritual authority will return one day to these teachings. We are given the promise that if the father “train[s] up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” in Proverbs 22:6.
Our Heavenly Father was proactive in providing a sacrifice for the remission our sins. God knew from the beginning that sin was going to separate man from having the desired relationship. In 1 Peter 1:19-20, we are informed and assured, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who very was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”
By “foreordaining” the necessity of the sacrifice of his son, God was proactive. Similarly, the actions and the means of the earthly father may not always be evidence. However, in perilous times, his proactivity will too “manifest.”
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Sons Become Spiritual Leaders
Fathers need to be proactive about their sons being in church because one day the son will provide the spiritual leadership of the church.
King Uzziah was a great and successful leader of Judah. However, becoming prideful and allowing the people to burn incense on the altar as evidenced in 2 Chronicles 26:16-20 compromised his faithfulness.
As punishment, he was struck leprosy and was forced to reside in “a separate house” until his death. His son Jotham took over the reign of the government. King Jotham followed in the successful footsteps of his father by winning many battles against the enemies of Judah.
Unfortunately, he also followed in the missteps of his father as well, by maintaining the practice of the people allowing sacrifices in the “high places” of the temple of the Lord.
Fathers set the example for their sons on how to lead in the home, in society, and within the church.
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God Calls Fathers to Be Proactive
It is important to consider the expectations that our Heavenly Father has of earthly fathers. In Colossians 3:21, a father is not to provoke anger. By not having spiritual expectations of their children, the earthly father is indirectly provoking anger and wrath upon the child.
Further, the earthly father is to be proactive in setting himself under the authority of Christ. The soldier in Luke 7:8 identifies as being under authority even though he had progressed through the ranks as a leader for others. When Jesus attempted to heal him, he proclaimed, “for I am also a man set under authority.”
In his book The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority, Adrian Rogers wrote that “fathers can have no authority in the home until they have surrendered to the headship of Jesus.” Thus, before a father can have influence on a young son, he must be proactive by “being fully broken and surrendered to the lordship of Christ.”
To have authority over the members of his household, a father is to accept and recognize he is “a man set under authority” of Christ.
Chad Napier is a believer in Christ, attorney at law, wannabe golfer, runner, dog lover, and writer. He enjoys serving his church as a deacon and Sunday School teacher. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and at his golf devotion par3sixteen.com. He and his wife Brandi reside in Tennessee with their canine son Alistair.
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