“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

As a child, I was captured by the stories that my grandfather told about life on the farm in Oklahoma in the early 1900s. The images I’ve held are not those of pleasant surroundings and ideal conditions; they are impressions of twelve-hour days spent working the land, dust storms that could devastate a crop, blistered and sunburned skin, and poverty unlike most Americans know today. Life, in general, was harder then, but interestingly enough, character seemed much stronger—it was a time when commitment, integrity, and honesty stood in place of contracts, disclosures, and bylaws. A handshake and a man’s word were generally good enough. I’m not suggesting that we return to that time in history, but that we learn from the past and strongly encourage those same character traits today.

To carry the weight of responsibility as husbands, leaders and fathers we must continually focus on building and strengthening our relationship with Christ. Unmistakably, the foundation we build today provides the strength that weathers the storm tomorrow.

It’s unfortunate that today’s society focuses largely on external factors such as money, position, status, and recognition. These superficial values have left our nation in a moral, as well as a spiritual crisis. We’ve become a society focused on prosperity instead of provision, we value wealth instead of wisdom and we are drawn to charisma instead of character. Our foundation as a nation, and as individuals, has slowly deteriorated, but that can be changed if we once again focus on God’s Word and biblical principles.

We are in desperate need of broken, humble men—men who are not afraid to admit that they need God; men who are more worried about prayer than about status and recognition; men who petition God rather than position themselves. While we may want recognition, respect, and honor, God first wants brokenness, humility, and a servant’s heart. Many men want the recognition, but not the brokenness; the honor, but not the humility.

The state of the family today is disheartening. Men have largely forsaken their God-given role as spiritual leaders in their homes…that, no one can deny. For example:

· Daily Bible reading and prayer is called fanatical while working twelve hours a day is called success.

· We build our career and neglect our marriage.

· Corporate executives are praised and family men frowned upon.

· We’ve increased our wealth, but decreased our values.

· We search the heavens for answers and turn from the One who created them.

· Pride is considered an asset and humility a liability.

· We know more about our favorite athletes than our wives and our children.

· We’d rather be seen leaving a bar than leaving a church.

· We raise our hands and praise our favorite team, yet fall asleep in church.

While dads jockey for position, build reputations, chase careers, and so on, it’s often mothers who pray, petition, nurture, care for, and lead.

Granted, there are men who, through no fault of their own, experience failure in their home, but for the large majority, there is a critical need for spiritual leadership.
Men, this father’s day, begin leading your family in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You’re not called to be a passive, weak, indecisive partner—you’re called to protect, lead, and guard your family.

You are to initiate prayer, defend your wife, shepherd your children, make your home a holy sanctuary. You’re called to fight the enemy, not flee from him. I’m tired of weak, passive men who never contend, stand, or fight for anything worth dying for.

Our nation is looking for character, our wives are looking for leaders, our kids are looking for fathers. Dads…wake up. Life is a battleground, not a playground!

As a word of encouragement to those who have failed: if you feel discouraged, don’t be! You can get back on track. Often, you’ll have two choices: to fall backward or to fall forward. If you choose to fall forward into God’s forgiveness, in time God’s grace will heal and restore you.

As a word of encouragement to single men: develop humility and godly character now so they can strengthen your future.

As a word of encouragement to those whose fathers may have failed them: God has given us the freedom to choose, and, in relationships, the choices of one can greatly affect the life of the other. But God can honor and bless your circumstance if you trust Him and forgive others. He can rebuild your life and open doors you might not have thought possible. Meanwhile, continue to pray and contend for the restoration of the relationship.

God wants us to run to Him, not away. Which way will you run?