By Randy Nabors
I think a lot about being a father, the joy of having children, my failures to fulfill that role well, the importance for my sons to be good dads, and the importance for all children to have in their life a protecting, loving, and nurturing dad. There are many things I learned the hard way, and some things I am still learning by reflection on my experience and as I watch others in that Father-Child relationship. What a wonderful, impactful, mysterious, sometimes painful and heart rending thing it is to be as a dad. Surely it is a reflection of the Eternal Father, Everlasting Father, Almighty Father, Loving Father, and our Heavenly Father who created this generationally repetitive and continuous relationship for the evolving of human history.
The book of Proverbs has helped me in many ways, and as it speaks to sons it continues to speak to dads. “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction…” (Proverbs 1.8) “My son, if you accept my words…” (2:1) “My son, do not forget my teaching…” (3:1) “Listen, my son, to a father’s instruction…” (4:1) “Listen, my son, accept what I say…” (4:10) “My son, pay attention to what I say…” (4:20) “My son, pay attention to my wisdom…” (5:1) “Now then, my sons, listen to me…” (5:7) “My son, keep your father’s commands…” (6:20) “My son, keep my words…” (7:1)
This continual refrain from a father to a son at the beginning of this wonderful book of wisdom gives us a scenario for the dynamics of a father-son relationship. There are certain presuppositions here. One is that there is a father, who actually communicates with his son. Another is that the father has something worth saying (he has words, teaching, instruction, wisdom, commands). Another necessity is that a son might listen (accept, not forget, pay attention, and keep), but the prevailing evidence from these first chapters is that the son has to constantly be called to the task. There is of course another obvious possibility and that is that the son will not listen, and there is a choice as seen in 2:1 with the word “if.”
In one famous passage about adultery it says, “At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent. You will say, ‘How I hated discipline! How my heart spurned correction! I would not obey my teachers or listen to my instructors.” (5:11-13) Here a father tries to teach his son to be faithful to his own wife, and not to mess with the wife of another. Faithfulness in marriage is modeled by dads, but also taught. Dads teach consequences, and this is so important for sons to learn.
One of the best consequences of an impactful fatherhood is a wise son. “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.” (10:1) “The father of a righteous man has great joy; he who has a wise son delights in him. May your father and mother be glad; may she who gave you birth rejoice!” (23:24-25)
However, the sins of sons and daughters are not always the fault of their parents. “a wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker dos not listen to rebuke.” (13:1) Sadly, sometimes sons and daughters don’t listen, and this results in grief as we read in 5:11 and 10:1.
WHAT IS ESSENTIAL
So, since the consequences are so great the necessity of fathers being there to say something is essential, for the father to realize that he must speak and that he does speak is essential, the necessity of them having biblical truth and wisdom to speak is essential, the necessity of them having the love and connection with their children so as to get and hold the attention of their children so they would listen and accept their teaching is essential. These things follow the one after the other and every single one of them can be problematic, or resisted, or hard, or frustrating. I know one perfect father, and it is certainly not me.
Here is a great resource that all fathers have, all things being normal, children naturally want their dads in their lives, and they want to hear their voice and feel their presence. They need and want to know that their dads care about their lives and their future. How the drama will play out of course is the great adventure of family. May God make us great dads and give us all wise sons!