Good and godly fathers are the unsung heroes of America today. They are greater than any athlete, rock star, or actor. They are more influential than any politician.
While a godly father can have such a significant influence on his children—and, as a result, on the next generation—tragically, the father that faithfully stands by his wife and children is becoming more of an oddity.
The absent father
Throughout history, men have been torn from their families by war, disease, and death. But in America now, men are choosing to disconnect from family life on a massive scale—and at far higher rates than other industrialized countries. Consequently, we are in danger of becoming a fatherless society.
Father Greg Boyle of Dolores Mission Church in East Los Angeles once listed the names of 100 gang members who came to mind and then jotted a family history next to each. All but five were no longer living with their biological fathers—if they ever had.
Without good and godly men around as role models, adolescent boys create their own rites of passage: perhaps getting a girl pregnant, dealing with drugs, or murdering a rival.
I believe the root of American’s problem with absent fathers can be traced to the same destructive cause of America’s marital problems: selfishness. When it gets a little bit hard, or you’re no longer happy, or a more attractive woman than your precious wife comes along, you walk away. Yet, if more men understood what God has to say about the difference a godly father can make in the lives of their children, they wouldn’t even entertain such thoughts.
The impact of a godly father
Fathers are the visible link children have to their Father in Heaven. In many ways, the viewpoint our children develop about God will come from us. The potential impact of a godly father is almost immeasurable.
Consider the impact of one godly father, Jonathan Edwards, This famous early American pastor, writer, and one-time president of Princeton University had 11 children. Of his known male descendants:
- More than 300 became pastors, missionaries or theological professors
- 120 were professors at various universities;
- 110 became attorneys;
- 60 were prominent authors;
- 30 were judges;
- 14 became presidents of universities or colleges;
- Three served in the U.S. Congress; and one became vice president of the United States.
In spite of Jonathan Edwards’ busy schedule of writing, teaching, and pastoring (he was known to have studied 13 hours a day), he made it a habit to come home and spend an hour each day with his children.
“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you, and were helped by you, will remember you. . .carve your name on hearts and not on marble.” —C.H. Spurgeon