Characteristics of a godly father

June 16, 2023 • 7 min
Characteristics of a godly father

Where are all the fathers? 

Such a simple question with myriad results and one resounding answer: fathers are not here, and neither are they there. Given sociological implications suggesting fathers have left their children, or spiritual implications suggesting fathers who are present are not involved, the current state of fatherhood is dire (Tyson, 2021). Lack of father involvement and father absenteeism has pushed the modern family into a state of ruin (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). Consequently, the culture is in crisis, and long-term staples are collapsing. The fabric of society is quickly dissolving, and the institutions of society are failing under this fast-paced reconstruction and destruction of marriage and the family (Hardenbrook, 2021). Simply put, the fatherless factor is destroying fatherhood and the family.

Despite this, there are some fathers fighting against the culture and fulfilling their duty to honor God and shepherd their children well. These fathers stand against the cultural chaos and are living examples of right and godly fathering. Fathers like this are truly exemplary. These God-honoring fathers share some common characteristics worthy of imitation. These attributes work in concert with each other and make up the whole of a model father. 

What are the characteristics of a godly father?

1. A godly father knows he is to be the example. Being an example and showing how to be a lifelong learner of God is a key attribute. Exemplary fathers are aware of their responsibilities and know they are the example for their children. The awareness coupled with responsibility produces a sense of accountability toward God in the shepherding of their children. When the father knows his children are watching—and they always are—he lives differently. He begins to live up to his God-given calling as a father. 

2. A godly father is a man of the Word. Scripture is vitally important for the father. He ingests the Word of God frequently and ponders the truths of Scripture. He consistently reads, studies, meditates, and pours over the holy writings. Fathers teach their children from a place of personal devotion. 

3. A godly father is a man of prayer. Prayer is an essential part of the father’s life, both personally and parentally. Prayer is one of the key disciplines that drives the father and can be seen in his disciple-making practices. The father uses prayer as a key connection point to God and his children. A godly father lives a life saturated with prayer-.

4. A godly father is deeply devoted to the church. His commitment to the body of Christ is seen in every aspect. These combined efforts demonstrate fathers strongly devoted to the church.

5. A godly father also knows the importance of community. Although devotion to the church is a priority, it is nuanced to the importance of community and being in a relationship with people. It is often said, “the church is not the building, it’s the people.” While there is some truth to that, the church is also an institution one should be devoted to. The church is God’s program for his people. Yet, part of that program is the need for relationships and the opportunity to live life-on-life, experiencing fellowship and discipleship which only happens in a relationship.

6. A godly father is a leader. He leads his children in all facets of discipleship, discipline, and devotion to the church. As the example, he leads through his own model of Godward living. In this aspect, he physically, spiritually, and emotionally shows his children the way, and introduces them to “the way” Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The father is the epitome of servant leadership, willingly serving his children and hoping his efforts will one day be imitated. His leadership is infused with the lifestyle practice of disciple-making between him and his children.

7. A godly father is a teacher. The role of the father is loaded with responsibilities and privileges. However, one of the most important responsibilities is the work of a teacher. Exemplary fathers have taken on the Deuteronomy 6:6 lifestyle, and understand teaching is an “all the time and everywhere” endeavor. They look for and create ways to get biblical teaching into their children. The father uses many occasions to teach his children, and understands all of life is a classroom for discipleship. When fathers look at teaching this way, they have more opportunities to connect with their children and focus their teaching toward helping their children become more like Jesus.

8. A godly father solicits help. He knows he cannot teach his children on his own, so he seeks help elsewhere. He positions his family in places of strong teaching and community. From Sunday school teachers to pastors, another godly voice should be sought. He purposely seeks opportunities for his children to hear truths from Christ-followers outside the home. Camp experiences and mission trips are common ways children are able to hear from other godly influences. The father should be purposeful and intentional in seeking opportunities for his children to hear the truth from other Christians. Further, the father must look to create partners in discipleship. The godly father’s attitude reflects the African proverb: “it takes a village to raise a child” (Pride, 2020).

9. A godly father is intentional. The intentionality of the father carries into a discipleship lifestyle, where he provides  teachable moments (although some teachable moments are unplanned). Since the world is the classroom  and the father is the curriculum for discipleship, the father makes the most of teachable moments. 

• First, through the realization children are trying to discover their world, their identity, and their Creator. The father helps his children discover all around them, including God and his ways. 

• The father creates teachable moments for the purpose of discipleship. He positions his children in places and ways they can learn. 

• The father is purposeful with his time. He knows there is only so much time, and each moment is another tick closer to their departure into adulthood.

10. A godly father is teachable. He knows he is a student of the Lord Jesus Christ, and is constantly learning and growing. The father is not an expert, but an example who looks for ways to grow. He seeks time with the Lord through devotion and quiet time. Further, he knows the importance of discipleship and puts himself in relationships with older, more mature Christians so he can continue his own spiritual education journey, which goes on until his death. The father understands he is to carry an attitude that allows him to be teachable.

11. A godly father is a learner—a lifelong learner and student of the Word. From purposeful time learning from the Word of God, to time in prayer listening to the instruction of the Holy Spirit, the father is a learner. He may not be the expert, but he knows where to find answers. He seeks wise counsel for areas of concern, especially when it comes to the discipleship of his children.

12. A godly father is humble. He knows he cannot give his children spiritual life—he can only share Christ with them and direct them—but God must open their eyes, minds, and hearts to receive him. The father is completely dependent upon God and abased in humility. He knows the salvific works are God’s alone, and does all he can to point his children to God, which takes tremendous humility.

13. A godly father works in partnership with his wife. Just as the father is humble and dependent on God, he also knows he can’t do it alone. There is a partnership in discipleship between the father and the mother, and he knows this is critically important. Two working together in raising the next generation of disciples is better than one.

14. A godly father is consistent. Consistency is key, whereby a rhythm of discipleship should be established. The father looks for many opportunities throughout the week to connect with his children. He also looks for a varied approach to discipleship, allowing for a more consistent means of connection and relationship development which happens through touchpoints. From prayer and Bible reading, to serving and worship alongside his children, the exemplary father is consistent.

The current state of contemporary fatherhood is alarming, and the father, once considered the foundation of the family, is not only fighting for existence, but fumbling for relevance in the contemporary home (Tyson, 2021). Yet, there are fathers who are firm in their footing and are steadfastly fighting back. They are model fathers, exemplary fathers, who love their children and the Lord their God with all their hearts. They are men of God, they are godly fathers. May fathers understand the high and holy calling of fatherhood and live out the characteristics of a godly father.

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About the Author:

Joseph Scarfone

Joseph Scarfone is the Pastor of Adult Ministry and Small Groups at The Bible Chapel in Pittsburgh, PA. He has a Doctor of Education in Discipleship from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also holds a Master of Church Ministry and a Master of Divinity from Shepherds Theological Seminary. Joseph has served in children’s, student, adult, and family ministry. He is an intentional disciple-maker who seeks to invest in the next generation.

He is married to Jennifer and together they have six children (Jaxon (11), Patti Grace (9), Joy (7), Judah (5), Malachi (3), and Shepherd (18 mos). He is passionate about being in creation and enjoys all things outdoors.

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