Skip to content

God-Pleasing Fatherhood

What is fatherhood? What does it mean to be a father? Those interested in learning the meaning of this important role in life would be well advised not to study the current examples of the unbelieving world.

By observing the practice of a growing number of men, we might be led to think that fatherhood involves no more than biologically fathering children. After fathering a child, heartless self-serving men cut and run, leaving mother and child to fend for themselves. Other proud and arrogant men think they are doing society a favor by donating to a sperm bank (believing that they are improving the gene pool).

Holy Scripture has long genealogical lists of so-and-so begetting so-and-so, but these lists are not recorded and preserved in order to teach that fatherhood involves only the begetting of children!


A Christian father will also serve as spiritual priest of the family. As such he is to nourish the souls of the children, teaching them about the Lord, His will for their lives, and about His loving, gracious, and merciful ways.

Oneof the most important purposes of Bible genealogies is to reveal the long family line of the promised Messiah. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born of flesh and blood so that through His redemptive work we could become a part of His eternal family. And in this very special family, the Lord enables Christian fathers to be a blessing to their children. Far from being a cut-and-run begetter, a Christian father makes a commitment to provide his children with a loving, healthy, stable, safe, and well-supplied family home.

Christian fatherhood goes beyond merely ensuring that children are well cared for and provided for. A Christian father will also be actively engaged in the rearing of his children. The apostle Paul gives divine counsel both on how to—and how not to—go about this parental function, when he exhorts, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NIV).

By addressing fathers here the apostle is not forgetting about the role of mothers in family life. What he says is intended to impress fathers with the responsibility of serving as the head of the family. They are to take a leading role in the children’s Christian upbringing.

To Guard Against…

When it comes to what to guard against in fatherhood, the apostle warns not to do or say things that would serve to exasperate, frustrate, or anger their children. The wide array of pitfalls includes being inconsistent, saying one thing and doing another, showing favoritism, yelling at the children, being harsh and oppressive in handing out discipline, being too lax and lenient, being overly protective, and being unrealistic in what is expected of the children according to their age maturity.

When and where we fathers have sinned against our children, let us in Christian humility apologize and seek their forgiveness. We want them to know how God wants fathers to

conduct themselves.

On the positive side, the apostle encourages fathers to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord. The root meaning of the word for “training” includes the sense of instruction, nurturing, discipline, and correction (the word translated as instruction can also have the meaning of warning).

A Christian father will also serve as spiritual priest of the family. As such he is to nourish the souls of the children, teaching them about the Lord, His will for their lives, and about His loving, gracious, and merciful ways.

In addition to using Holy Scripture, Martin Luther prepared the Small Catechism—a very helpful book for fathers in their instruction of the children. At the beginning of the Catechism, Luther wrote, “As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to those of his household.”

This small book, the Catechism, covers all the basic Christian teachings for the benefit of our children. Fathers,

how often do we make use of this handy book in the raising of our children?

When a child’s sinful nature kicks up, displaying a rebellious spirit, this is to be met with loving, measured discipline. On these occasions (as well as any other opportunity that presents itself), the Lord expects fathers to be diligent in correcting what is amiss, warning what is to be guarded against, all the while instructing the children what is good, right, and pleasing to their Savior God.

Christian fathers will want to keep in mind that the threats and demands of the Law can never transform a child’s attitude. Rather, we want them to be motivated by the love of Christ. We will teach and remind the children of their Lord’s redeeming love and His wonderful merciful kindness toward them and all sinners.

The primary goal in fatherhood is to help children grow in the Lord so that throughout their lives they will look to the Savior in faith and follow Him in Christian love. Our most fervent hope and prayer is that they will be and remain members of God’s eternal family.

May God bless our fathers in carrying out their crucial role in Christian fatherhood!