Fathering like the Father

Written by Joseph Scarfone
Published on June 14, 2022

“You’re a good, good father, it’s who you are…and I’m loved by you, it’s who I am” are the words to Chris Tomlin’s song, Good Good Father. These words sung to Father God are words that I personally hope I live up to in my fathering. I want to be a good good father to my children. I want to father like Father God. In fact, fathers are called to follow in the footsteps of their heavenly Father. 

Father God is loving, gracious, kind, merciful, and good—all the time, for all eternity. Unfortunately, in my fathering I fall short of his great example. Despite my failures, I still desire to father like Father God. It’s in those moments of failure that God meets us where we are, shows us his great love, and empowers us to father like him. Aren’t you grateful he doesn’t just leave us there in the muck and mire of life? I know I am. 

God’s character shines radiantly in his example to us, and he is worthy of our imitation in every area of life, especially in fathering. It’s no coincidence that God is affectionately and reverently titled, Father God. When we spend time and invest in our relationship with our heavenly Father, we become more like him. He shapes us when we intentionally pursue him, and his character begins to take shape in us. These qualities are known as communicable attributes, which mean the more time you spend with God, the more he grows his character in us. We should all aspire to father like Father God. Let’s look at ways in which we can father like the Father and have the greatest impact on our kids

One of the most powerful attributes of God is His love. It is often called the essence of his being, for “God is love” (1 John 4:19). All people desire love. We want to be loved, and as fathers, we should be a conduit of God’s great love toward our children. Fathers are ambassadors of love and the living example of a life of love. The way we talk to our wife and children should be seasoned in love. The way we conduct our lives must be saturated in love. Let everything you do be done in love (1 Cor 16:14). 

Dad, make love deposits into the bank of your child’s soul every day. Never lose a moment to work or hobbies that could be better spent loving your child. May your child overwhelmingly feel the presence of God through your personal fathering. What a glorious testimony for your child to say, “I know my dad loved the Lord with all he had (Deut 6:5) because he loved me with an indescribable love.” Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). May your love burst forth from an overflowing heart that is filled with God’s love toward you. Remember, you can’t give what you don’t have, and true love comes from God. Spend close, personal, and intimate time with God, so that you can give that which you receive from him to your children.

Mercy is defined as not getting something we deserve. Each of us deserves the consequence for our sin, yet God is merciful toward us. Shouldn’t we extend that same mercy to our children? Despite our children being “little sinners” (smaller versions of ourselves), we would do well to replicate the mercy that is shown to us. When we father from a position of mercy, we offer our children a prelude to the abundant mercy that God offers. Merciful fathering foreshadows the radical mercy of God. Our children should be no strangers to mercy;they should receive it from us often. 

In the heat of life and the trials of fathering, it is extremely challenging to offer mercy. So often we are quick to lay down the law. Perhaps we should look for opportunities to extend mercy, just like Father God does for us. Psalm 103:8 reminds us, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.“ His mercy is often coupled with His grace.

“Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin” are the words from a beloved hymn that should be the anthem for every father. Yes, our children will rebel. Yes, our children will disobey. Of course they are going to sin. However, fathers must be gracious and let their love cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8). When fathers practice grace-based parenting they will have more opportunities for gospel conversations. 

What better way to display the grace of Christ than to extend “undeserved favor” (the definition of grace) to our children. When they sin, and they will (far more often than we would ever want), we can offer grace and point our children to true forgiveness that can only come from the loving arms of God.

Father Like Him

When we as fathers are aware of the fathering character of our heavenly father, we can switch our perspective more toward his character and begin our own fatherly journey to Father like him. Love will burst forth from us as we are filled to overflowing with the incredible love of God. Mercy and grace will be our common practice as we remember how God father’s us. When we intimately know Father God, our greatest desire will be to reveal his character to our children through our fathering.May it be said of you that you pointed your children toward God and modeled his character in your fathering. He is a Good Good Father.

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Joseph Scarfone

Joseph Scarfone is the Pastor of Discipleship at Christ Community Church in Ames, IA. He has a Master of Church Ministry and a Master of Divinity from Shepherds Theological Seminary. He is currently finishing up his Doctor of Education in Discipleship from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Joseph has served in children’s, student 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 (10), Patti Grace (8), Joy (6), Judah (4), Malachi (2) and Shepherd (3 mos). He is passionate about being in creation and enjoys all things outdoors.

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