by Sean E. Brotherson
It is tragic when a father ignores or abuses this responsibility and instead is hurtful or uncaring toward his children. Fathers must learn that to exercise power in the lives of their children does not mean to control them, but rather to bless them.
It is not simply power that a father needs. It is the power to bless. It is what might be called "power in righteousness." Men do not bless by the mere exercise of power. They bless only by the exercise of power in righteousness.
To be a holy figure in the life of a child, and the life of a family, requires an association with the powers of heaven. A mere man, who becomes a father, must become a righteous man. A man who realizes and accepts that fatherhood is sacred.
Sacred fathering recognizes and accepts the sacredness of being a father. It means a father knows he can bring blessing or pain to his children and generations of his family yet unborn. May I suggest seven areas where a father's love, and his righteousness, can sacredly impact the lives of his children.
How do you cultivate beauty?
Because of their power, fathers have a great capacity to sow either beauty or ugliness in the lives of their children and family members. You begin by recognizing that to be the father of a child is, itself, a beautiful thing. A child is beautiful and even sacred, "for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
But beyond creating order and peace, beyond giving appreciation and recognition to each of your children, beyond acts of love and tenderness, and beyond creating an atmosphere of laughter and learning, the greatest thing you can do for your children is to love their mother.
You cultivate beauty in the life of your child only as you act with care and love toward the mother of your child. This is part of sacred fathering.
The degree of joy or sorrow in family life may be related to the manner in which fathers act with caring and compassion.
Fathers may bring sorrow by their absence and joy by their presence. I have talked with many little children who seldom see their fathers. This may be due to divorce. Or abuse. Or neglect. Or simply travel and "other" priorities. God sees the tears of children. He counts those tears.
Fathers should seek not only to be present in the lives of their children, but to live in a way that their presence is a joyful presence to their family.
I watched my son participate last year in a soccer game. I arrived a few minutes late to the game and he was not aware of my presence at first. Suddenly, toward the end of the game, he found himself near the goal and in scoring position. He hesitated and then took the ball, kicked it toward the goal, and then reacted with wonder when it bounced into the back of the net. Joy lit his face. And then he looked around. He looked to see if anyone was there to share this moment of triumph. And he saw me. He waved and jumped up and down with his teammates, and I cheered. And I will admit I shed a quiet tear of gratitude that I was there to participate in creating a memory like that.
Joy is most joyful when it is shared, especially between a father and a child.
Fathers can be a bit like bears. They can be gentle with their own, but they can also get mean and angry at times. Gentleness versus anger. How much does it matter?
As I noted earlier, fathers have power in the lives of their children. When fathers give themselves over to anger and they yell, rage, curse, or act cold and controlling toward a spouse or child, for a child that can be terrifying whether they are the object or it or not. Power unleashed in anger is frightening to a child.
Gentleness, by contrast, soothes and comforts and stills the feelings of a child who is sick, upset, or feeling hurt or afraid. Fathers have great power when they choose gentleness rather than anger.
Fathers have enormous capacity to direct their children in the paths of life.
When you train a horse, especially a young horse, you spend a lot of time training it by leading it. You must get out in front of it and show it which way to go and how to act. If a young horse becomes rowdy or upset, it is not uncommon to put it with an older, more mature horse that can teach it good habits and lead it in the right direction. However, if a young horse gets mixed in with older, rowdy horses it quickly learns bad habits and these can be very difficult to break.
Fathers play the powerful role model in the lives of their children that older, responsible horses play in the training of a younger horse. They provide a protective buffer between children and the world.
Children are seekers of truth. Children hold parents to the truth if parents have made a promise. Fathers must be careful that they not break promises to children. The trust of a child is a sacred thing.
It dangerously easy for a father to break a promise to a child. Why? Because fathers have greater power in the relationship. Children cannot revoke your allowance. Children cannot suspend your driving privileges.
But what is the consequence of a broken promise to a child? Mistrust. Lack of confidence. Disappointment. Even despair.
To father is a child is more than a biological act. It is more than a social role to fulfill. It is sacred work.
To truly father a child is to nurture the soul of a child. To truly father a child is to honor and respect womanhood and motherhood.
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