Billy Graham once said: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”
There are many qualities of a good Christian father that we can find in the Bible. But we must start with the father simply being present. One statistic I read from the Department of Health and Human Services said that in 1996, 42% of single mother households lived below poverty level. Yet only 8% of households with married parents were considered poor. If the absence of a father from a home makes that drastic of a difference in the finances, surely his absence affects so many other areas. Fathers, for the sake of your children and their future, be there for them.
But there is much more to being a godly Christian father than simply living in the same house. Here are 11 characteristics from the Bible that every Christian father should have.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
The classic passage on training children starts with loving God above all else. Our Jewish friends call this passage Shema Yisrael (which means, “Hear, Israel”). It is the centerpiece of the Jewish prayer time. All Israel is instructed to love God above all others. Then parents are instructed to teach their children God’s law. The promise in verse 2 of this chapter is long life to those fathers and children who learn to obey and trust God.
This commandment is repeated in Mark 12:29 and 30. To be a good father you must learn to love God above all else.
Mark 12:31 “And the second [commandment] is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
The first commandment is to love God and the second is to love others. Without this you cannot be a good Christian and you cannot be a good father. To be a good Christian father you must have the characteristic of love for others. This is not just your own children, but a genuine love for people. If you do not have this, then it will show in your life and influence your children negatively.
Besides being a good Christian characteristic, it is a command from our Lord. This even includes our enemies as Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:43-48).
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
There is much discussion on this verse as to whether it is a promise or a principle. Regardless of your take on the topic, it should be clear what the command is. The command is to train children. That is something that I, as a father, can make a decision to do. But it is not just a command to train, because we are always modeling for our children how to live, it is a command to train them in the way they should go. Train them in a right way. Be a mentor to them.
Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Along with mentoring, it requires patience to train a child in the right way. Do not provoke, or frustrate, your children by unreasonable demands. Losing your patience with your children creates tension for everyone. It is very difficult for them to learn in such a caustic environment.
Genesis 2:15 “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
God put Adam in the garden and gave him instructions to work. This was before the fall of Adam and Eve. From the very beginning God planned that man would have a job to do. The difference after the fall is that work would become difficult.
Paul teaches in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 that men who are lazy and refuse to work should not be allowed to eat. Be careful with this passage. This does not say that people who can’t work shouldn’t eat. It says that those who “would not work,” meaning that they could, but they choose not to.
The next several characteristics are taken from the guidelines for pastors and deacons. While not all fathers need to be a pastor to be considered a godly father, it should be understood that only the best fathers with the best qualities would be qualified to be a pastor or deacon.
Sober – Self Controlled
1 Timothy 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;”
There are many things we can say from the following verses, but let’s pick out a few that are needed today in fathers.
Sober here is talking about being self controlled. Not flying off the handle at their children or at others.
One of the godliest examples in my life as a young man was my school principal. He was always very calm and even tempered. It was rare for him to raise his voice even when trying to get people’s attention. That didn’t mean things never bothered him, it is just that he did not show it outwardly by a display of extreme emotion. Any of his children would tell you that he was not afraid to dole out punishment when necessary, but it was never out of anger. When my classmates, his children, or I ever got punished we always felt it was because he loved us and he wanted us to turn out to be the best servants of God that we could be. Oh that I could be a father like him.
Sober – Not a Drunkard
1 Timothy 3:3 “Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;”
Paul says of deacons in verse 8, “not given to much wine.” Both these are talking about drunkenness. The Bible teaches that a wise man will avoid alcohol completely (Proverbs 23:29-35). A quality of a Christian father should be one who avoids alcohol. Certainly no drunk should be considered to be showing godly characteristics.
1 Timothy 3:2, 10 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;…And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.”
This does not mean that the person has never done wrong, but that he lives in such a way that when accusations come, people don’t immediately assume they are true. And I am not talking about politicians here who pay people to clean up their past messes and shift the blame to others. I am talking about a man who people can trust because they don’t see fault in this man and his character.
You know how you sometimes get a bad feeling about someone from meeting them for a few minutes? You begin to suspect they are hiding something? Try not to be that man. Live in such a way that people do not immediately jump to a guilty verdict when they hear a false accusation against you.
Worthy of Respect
1 Timothy 3:7 “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
This whole passage seems to be pointing to people you could respect. Of course children are supposed to obey and honor their parents (Ephesians 6:1, 2). The idea of honoring their parents is the idea of respect. However, 1 Timothy is talking about being a man that other people can respect.
A couple of years ago we began attending a church in a new town that we moved to. Within a few weeks a young couple left the church because of a job transfer. Everyone was sad to see Brian and his wife move. Though I had not met Brian at that point, I learned to respect him. Brian is about 15 years younger than I am. Yet, men who are 20 and 30 years older than me speak very highly and respectfully about Brian. Now when Brian and his wife visit the church, there is a crowd in the back of the auditorium gathered around them. I would dare say that if he ever entered the ministry, he would have a church ready to hire him because of the great reputation he has built among the people.
Not a Lover of Money
1 Timothy 6:6-11 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
The qualifications of a deacon or preacher say that he should not be a lover of money. The verses above, which come from later in 1 Timothy, say that a man of God is a man who is content with what he has. Of course we need money to live and care for our family, but that should not be the focus of our existence. Our focus should be on godliness and training our children to value the same.
Manifest the Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22, 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
There are characteristics in these two verses which were not mentioned previously. As a Christian father who is controlled by the Holy Spirit, you should manifest His work in your life by having these characteristics—and many more.
Take these 11 qualities of a Christian father and work on them. Maybe you do well in some areas but not in others. Make it a point to do better in these lacking areas. Comb the Bible for other attitudes and character traits that you can implement in your life so that you can lead your family well.
Take a look at this related article with tips for the Christian father:
Resource – The Holy Bible, King James Version