Redeem Your Fathering

Written by Joseph Scarfone
Published on June 17, 2022

I was crying my eyes out with conviction—deep audible gasps for breath in between agonizing cries of repentance. I had just encountered a truth that had leveled me. I had been a Christian for six years, a husband for four years, and a father for two years when I read Donald Whitney’s, Family Worship. The truth I encountered transformed me as a man, as a husband, and mostly as a father.

The biblical truth that rocked me? I am supposed to be the spiritual leader of my family. I remember understanding for the first time that I was to shepherd my wife and children well and be the godly example for them. Whitney traced this truth through church history and observed that during the era of the Puritans, a man would be “suspended and debarred from the Lord’s supper” for not leading his family in family worship. I was guilty as charged, and the weight of neglect came rushing in as I begged God for forgiveness. How could I begin now?? I begged God to help me redeem my fathering.

In years since then, I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this ignorance of the biblical role as a father. I’ve talked with many men who have had similar revelations of their own lack of shepherding, especially with their children. Many men live with regret of missed opportunities because they never knew the truth. Unfortunately, the church has not done a stellar job of partnering with fathers and helping them to know what it means to be a godly father. However, it’s never too late to redeem your fathering.

The Calling To Father

Being a father is a high calling from God. It is an incredible privilege that many men just throw away. Mirroring Father God’s role to his children is a high calling of fathers that needs to be affirmed. In contrast to the culture that paints fathers as aloof, apathetic, and atrophied in their purpose, the biblical call to father is a beautiful honor. 

Fathers, stop believing the lies that you are only a paycheck or a provider. You are so much more. You are the shepherd of your child’s soul and the spiritual caregiver. You are the guide for their journey to and with Christ. You are the living example for your children to follow.

Four Ways To Redeem Your Fathering

1. Pray with Your Children

One of the most intimate ways to tune a child’s heart to the things of God is through prayer. When your child sees you praying and modeling a conversation with God, they will be able to understand and practice meaningful prayer. Fathers, when we bring our hearts before the Lord with our children, a unique bond is formed. Prayer is the glue that keeps relationships together. Pray for your kids, but also pray with your kids. Let your children hear your cries to God. May it be said of you that you “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17).

2. Read the Bible with Your Children

If prayer is the glue that holds relationships with our children together, reading the Bible is the substance. Everything we need for godliness and good living can be found in His Word (2 Pet 1:3). Proverbs 22:6 says, “train up a child in the way he should go.” That training is intended to come from Scripture. Fathers, take time to share from the Bible. You don’t need a forty-five minute sermon; you only need a nugget of truth. Start with a proverb or a line from a Psalm and give a simple explanation about how your child can apply it to life. Don’t be afraid to share what the Lord is doing in your life with your children while using his word as the foundation.

3. Sing with Your Children

Make a joyful noise with your children. Singing with your kids changes the environment of life toward one that is worshipful. All of life is to be an expression of God’s goodness and greatness, and what better way to proclaim his excellencies than through singing. Music is a powerful tool, and when you share songs with your kids, it draws you closer to God and each other. Find new music and artists that honor God and don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone. You may even want to dance, which is perfectly fine. Go and dance for Jesus.

4. Serve with Your Children

When we serve we grow. The same is true for our kids. Give your children age-appropriate opportunities to give back to the body of Christ. This is a great area to get creative—from bringing a single mom a meal to cleaning up the yard of a senior church member, there are many unique ways to serve with your children. One way that helps most churches is to adopt a classroom on Sunday morning. Children’s ministries are often looking for volunteers, and you can often bring your whole family to help out with two or three-year-olds. Ask your church where your family can get plugged in to serve, and then head to worship as a family (assuming your church has more than one hour for worship).

Just Do It

Nike has the best slogan, “Just Do It.” We are often afraid to try or start new things, but if we just do it, we will find that God meets us there in our availability. When it comes to fathering we have a lot to lose, so the reward is far greater than the fear. It’s never too late to redeem your fathering. You can start by implementing one of the four practical areas: pray, read, sing, or serve. When you make an intentional effort to invest in your children you will be building a legacy of faith. May Father God redeem your fathering.

 1 Donald Whitney, Family Worship, from The Directory for Family Worship (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 32.

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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.

Read more about Joseph

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