When God instituted the family (cf. Gen. 2:18-25), he gave the responsibility for leadership to the father. Dads are to be the spiritual leaders and nurturers in the home, according to God’s ideal (cf. Eph. 5:22-33; 6:1-4). Dads are also imperfect, however. The Bible is literally filled with men who seemed to have their heart in the right place at times, and yet were spectacular failures when it came to being Godly dads. What does the Bible say about how NOT to be a dad?
Show favoritism toward one or more of your children — Isaac was the father of twin boys, but he seemed to prefer the rugged Esau to Jacob the “home body.” As a result, a Isaac’s family was torn apart when Jacob deceived his father and brother (cf. Gen. 27:5-17). The tragic lessons of family favoritism were lost on Jacob, however, who clearly preferred his sons Joseph and Benjamin over the other ten (cf. Gen. 37:18-20). Both Isaac and Jacob learned too late that a father cannot afford to have his “favorites” where children are concerned. Genuine love does not seek its own or play favorites (1 Cor. 13:5). Such behavior will assuredly lead to strife and division in the home.
Fail to discipline your children — Many fathers seem afraid that discipline will somehow cause their child to love them less. Others seem to have “rose tinted glasses” where their kids’ behavior is concerned. Eli the High Priest was one such man. His sons, the Bible says, were corrupt (1 Samuel 2:12-17). They defiled themselves and the Lord’s tabernacle by their wickedness, and for some reason, Eli did not restrain them (1 Samuel 3:13). Fathers everywhere need to hear this warning: we cannot really love our kids the way we ought unless we are willing to discipline them in a godly way (cf. Hebrews 12:5-11).
Behave immorally in your own life — David was a man after God’s own heart in many ways (Acts 13:22), but it seems he failed miserably where his kids were concerned. One of his sons, Amnon, raped his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-22). Amnon was subsequently killed by Absalom, another of David’s sons (2 Sam. 13:23-33). Later, Absalom also became rebellious and sought to usurp his father’s throne (2 Sam. 15:1-12). Where did so many of his sons and daughters go wrong? They saw immorality in their father’s life. David’s sin with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah her husband must have made a tremendous impression on his older sons and daughters (2 Sam. 11-12). Even though David was forgiven by God, he still suffered the consequences of his terrible sins. Fathers, do not be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows in his life, that shall he also reap (Gal. 6:7)! Our kids desperately need to see Godliness in us.
Provoke your children to wrath — Heavy-handed discipline, an unChristlike spirit, and a lack of interest in our kids may all spell trouble ahead. Dads provoke their children to wrath when they are harsh and critical. Matthew 7:1-6 commands us to examine ourselves before we offer criticism to others — such a principle, properly applied, would squash all ungodly criticism! Dads can provoke their kids to wrath by ignoring them. In a world that demands more and more of our time, serious thought and meditation should be given to the priority of families. To paraphrase Jesus’ words, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own family?” We provoke our kids to wrath when we demand that they compete with our jobs and recreational activities for time and love. May God help us NOT to be fathers apart from His will! — JB