by Greg Smalley
Many people in our culture believe that fatherhood isn’t important or is obsolete. But a husband and a father can make a great difference in their family by using the strengths and skills God has given them.
It was a Father’s Day call I’ll never forget. I was co-hosting “Everyday Relationships,” a daily call-in program for Focus on the Family. My wife, Erin, surprised me by setting up a phone call from my son, Garrison. Garrison was just 10 years old and nervous about speaking on the radio. But he finally opened up enough to say — on live radio — “Happy Father’s Day. You make plenty of mistakes … well, I love you.”
How’s that for a surprise? I can chuckle because I know Garrison meant well and loves that I’m his dad. Unfortunately, not every guy hears “I love you.” Many men will only hear, “You make plenty of mistakes.” It’s the message our culture pounds into the hearts of husbands and fathers. And that’s not the only message today’s culture shouts. Men are also told that they aren’t really all that important to the well-being of today’s family.
A decade ago, The Atlantic published the article “Are Fathers Necessary?” In it, the author summed up fatherhood with this disparaging opinion: “The bad news for Dad is that despite common perception, there’s nothing objectively essential about his contribution. The good news is, we’ve gotten used to him.”
Many people in our culture believe that fatherhood is unimportant or obsolete. Even our churches may unintentionally contribute to this message. While Mother’s Day sermons extol the value of a mother, Father’s Day sermons often preach that men aren’t measuring up and need to improve their performance as husbands and fathers. While I’m not suggesting that husbands and dads are perfect or don’t have room to grow, I’m pointing out that these subtle messages discourage many fathers and make us wonder if we are necessary.
Here’s the truth: Dad, you are necessary. You are valuable. God made you. He loves you. He treasures you. You have a purpose. You have a God-given role in your family. And God gives you the strength to fulfill your role as a husband and father.
Speaking of your role, we’re used to hearing about what a dad contributes to his kids’ lives. But I want to talk about something different. I want to talk about the role dad plays in his wife’s life — not just from the usual parenting perspective — but also to show the difference dads can make when they value and encourage their wives.
So, let’s take a look at what the Bible says about your role. Let’s focus on the many strengths God highlights and then celebrate these God-given strengths that make you indispensable.
Your Strength: Cherishing
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church” (Ephesians 5:29). When you “cherish” someone or something, you treat it as something of great value. God has given husbands the command — and strength — to cherish their wives. Your wife wants desperately to know that you see her value and she wants to be reminded of it often.
Your Strength: Encouraging
“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13, NIV). Life is difficult. It’s easy to lose heart and get discouraged. When you encourage your wife, you give her courage and determination. Your encouragement affirms your spouse and helps her say, “I can do this!” despite the challenges.
God the Father knew the power of encouragement. He publicly praised His Son, Jesus, at the start of Jesus’ public ministry. Mark 1:11 tells us, “A voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’ ” Imagine the difference it would make in your family if each person knew how much you loved and appreciated them.
Your Strength: Protecting
Husbands protect their families from bugs, rodents, noises at night, angry family members, spiritual attacks — everything that is a threat. The biblical story of Ruth introduces us to a man named Boaz. Boaz is a shining example of protecting Ruth even before she became his wife. “Then Boaz said to Ruth, ‘Now, listen, my daughter, do not go to glean in another field or leave this one, but keep close to my young women. Let your eyes be on the field that they are reaping, and go after them. Have I not charged the young men not to touch you?’ ” (Ruth 2:8-9) God has uniquely created men to be a successful protector of his family.
A protector uses his strength to honor his wife. First Peter 3:7 says, “…showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel.” Was Peter just suggesting that women are the weaker gender? Absolutely not! He isn’t saying that women are “less than” men or that they’re emotionally, intellectually or spiritually weaker. He’s talking to men, reminding them that women are generally physically weaker than men, so husbands need to protect their wife and treat her with honor.
Your Strength: Provider
Another strength God has placed within the hearts of men is to provide for his family. Again Boaz shows this trait: “And at mealtime Boaz said to her, ‘Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.’ So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over” (Ruth 2:14).
Most men have an innate desire to work hard to support the financial needs of their families. But this doesn’t mean that they should focus exclusively on building a career. Sure, God wants men to provide financially for their family, but He also wants them to provide spiritually and emotionally — to love their wife unconditionally and be fully present. Paul underscores the importance of this in his instructions to Timothy: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Dad, You Really Do Matter
Men matter — as fathers, husbands and individuals created by a loving God. You are the only person on the planet who can love your wife the ways she deeply desires to be loved — fully and completely with all of your heart. Your work — cherishing, sacrificing and encouraging — makes a difference. Want to know how big of a difference it makes? Over the years, I’ve collected quotes from people who have attended the seminars my wife Erin and I lead and from comments sent to us. This quote explains it best: “My husband has made me laugh. Wiped my tears. Hugged me tight. Watched me succeed. Seen me fail. Cheered me on. Kept me going strong.”
No matter what our culture says, you are not “unnecessary” or a “failure.” God sees you – and your role as husband and father — as vitally important. Use the gifts and strengths he has given you and cheer on your wife. Make her laugh. Wipe her tears. Hug her tight. Encourage her to succeed and keep going strong.
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