What do you think of when I mention the word father? If you are like most people you think of the guy that has children. This definitely qualifies them as a father. Yet there is more to fathering then just producing offspring. The Bible mentioned three types of fathers, what type are you?
You know that this summer we have been doing a series of dramatic monologues based on the book of 1 Samuel. The opening chapters of Samuel offer a glimpse of two “godly” men who failed to impact their children. The two men are Eli and Samuel. The Bible makes passing comments on each of these men’s adult children that reminds us that it is possible to succeed in certain areas and fail in others. Eli was a high priest and a judge at the end of the period known as Judges. The text does not tell us much about Eli so I will refrain from commenting on him, but we do know more about Samuel. He was a man of spiritual conviction and a heart for the Lord. When Eli’s sons lost the Ark of the Covenant by treating it as a lucky rabbits foot, Samuel, when facing the same challenge guided the people to get right with the Lord. There are many other insights that stand out about him. We know that he was a man of prayer. He is also the one that set up an Ebenezer stone after the Lord gave them victory over the Philistines. Ebenezer means “a stone of help” and this one was a memorial to remind God’s people of His faithfulness. Samuel, like Eli was also a priest and judge. It is believed that he was the last judge of the period of Judges. It appears from these references and others that Samuel was a godly man and a successful leader.
So what does this have to do with the three types of fathers? Well the writer of Samuel makes this statement in passing, “Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:3) The lack of Samuel’s sons Godly character along with his age was a reason given by the leaders for seeking a king. It appeared to the crowd that a 65-70 year old man was not the best option for the future. They also recognized that Samuel’s sons were not fit for the position. These passing insights remind us that a father can be successful in certain areas, and if not careful, fail miserably in another. A great dad strives to succeed in the three areas of fathering. So what are the three types of fathering?
The first, that I already mentioned, is being a Biological Father. This simply means that a man is biologically capable of producing offspring. It does not say much about a man except that he able to be a father. I need to add, for those that are unable to have children biologically, that this does not exclude them from being a father as we will see in the next two types.
The second type of father is powerfully reflected in our culture and in many people’s definition of a father. It is the protector/provider. This is part of the Biblical role of a dad to provide for the needs and protection of his wife and children. This, at the core level, focuses on meeting the physical needs of the family. It also speaks to Dad meeting the emotional needs of the family too. Unfortunately, this second responsibility of fathering is being lost. A man that embraces this type of fathering is to be commended! Yet God desires more.
The third type of Father is the Spiritual Leader/Mentor. This is the dad that is not just content to see that the family attends church. He is also committed to being a living model of a Godly man. He is the one that takes responsibility for spiritually mentoring his children in the Lord. The Bibles says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
I have become a champion of fathers. There is very little appreciation for the important role of dad in God’s design of the family. The challenge for us dad’s is to make sure that we are investing not only in protecting and providing for our family but also functioning as the spiritual leader and mentor of our wife and children.