A clipping from a Dutch magazine a number of years ago described a child's attitude toward his father as the years pass by. At age 4, the child says, "My daddy can do anything." At age 7, "My daddy knows a lot. A whole lot." At age 8 he says, "Well my father doesn't quite know everything." At 12 he says, "Naturally, my father doesn't know that either." At 14, "My dad is so hopelessly old-fashioned." Age 21, "That man is so out of date." At 25 years, "Dad knows a little, but not too much." At 30 years, "I must find out what Dad thinks about this." At 35 years, "Before we decide, let's get Dad's idea first." At 50, "What would Dad have thought about that?" At 60 years, "My Dad knew literally everything." At 65 years he says, "I wish I could talk it over with Dad one more time."
How important good and godly dads are. The father who faithfully stands beside his wife and children is becoming more and more of a rarity in our society. I believe America needs dads more than ever because of what we are facing today. While the Marine Corps slogan is, "Looking for a few good men," I think our country's new slogan ought to be: "Looking for a few godly men."
A few years ago, L. A. Times Magazine ran an article about the invisible dad. It pointed out, "Many American men are disconnecting from family life and society is paying the price. Consider two of the nation's most serious problems: crime and teenage pregnancy. Studies show that the most reliable predictor of these behaviors is not income. It's not race. It's family structure. Pregnant girls and criminal boys tend to come from fatherless families. An astonishing 70 percent of imprisoned minors have spent at least part of their lives without fathers."
This article went on to quote Father Gregory Boyle, a priest in East Los Angeles. He once wrote down the names of 100 gang members whom he knew personally, and next to their names, he wrote down their family history. He was shocked to realize that all but five on the list were not currently living with their biological fathers, if they ever had.
Fathers are so important because they are a visible link between their children and the Father in Heaven. Many of the attitudes children will develop toward God will be connected to the ones they have toward their fathers. The potential impact of a good and godly father is immeasurable. Don't believe it when people say children don't need a mom and a dad. They need both as much as possible.
Certainly, many pressures come with fatherhood. Some of us feel ill-equipped. But it's better to be a learning dad than an absent one.
A father's influence will not only impact his children, it will impact his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and his great-great-grandchildren. The values fathers pass on to their children today, whether sinful or godly, will be passed on to their children in the future.
Consider the impact of the life of one godly man, Jonathan Edwards. A great preacher in American history who lived at a time of great spiritual awakening, he was renowned for his message, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." In addition to being a pastor, he was the President of Princeton University, an author, and the father of 11 children.
Of Jonathan Edwards' known male descendants, more than 300 became pastors, missionaries, or theological professors. Another 120 descendants became college professors, 110 became attorneys, 60 were prominent authors, 30 became judges, and 14 served as presidents of universities or colleges. Three descendants served in the U. S. Congress, and one became the Vice President of the United States.
A very busy man who reputedly spent 13 hours each day in study, Jonathan Edwards still made a habit of spending an hour at home with his children every day. He took time to be with them, and what a legacy he left!
As C. H. Spurgeon said, "A good character is the best tombstone. Those who love you and were helped by you will remember you. So carve your name on hearts and not on marble."
If you're a father, are you carving your name on the hearts of your children right now? Are you leaving a godly legacy of good character? It's the greatest thing you can leave.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!