If we did one of those word-association games with the word father, we’d hear different people blurt out lots of different things. Nobody would be silent, though. The title father immediately brings thoughts, emotions, and images to mind, whether they be good or bad. The very architecture of the family mandates this. If your father was present in your life, his presence impacted you deeply. If your father was absent from your life, his absence impacted you deeply.
Sitting as we are now two days from Father’s Day, it seems to be an appropriate time to consider the gravity of the title father. Those of us who are fathers simply cannot escape the tremendous responsibility associated with these six letters. And however cognizant we are of the relational gravity of being called a father, we must also recognize the theological gravity of being called a father.
Notice that Jesus repeatedly referred to the One who sent Him as “Father.” The rest of the New Testament writings use the title extensively as well. When we speak of the triune God, we refer to the persons of the Godhead as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
As we use biblical terminology to educate our children about God, then, they are constantly playing our hypothetical word-association game, in a sense. When they hear about the Heavenly Father, they instantly (and usually subconsciously) hear about Him through the headphones that our conduct and character mold for them day to day. They can’t think about their Heavenly Father without subtly imputing our characteristics to Him.
God is gracious, and He is more than willing and capable to overcome our inevitable weaknesses as fathers. The point here is not to beat ourselves up but to remind ourselves that one of the most impactful lessons our children will learn on the nature of God is embodied in us, Dads.
What an awesome calling!