Faith Of Our Fathers
Fathers, do not provoke
your children to anger by
the way you treat them.
Rather, bring them up
with the discipline and
instruction that comes
from the Lord (v.4).
I was reading upstairs when my neighbor came to pick
up his son. The child must not have wanted to go yet,
for I heard his small voice declare, “Someone’s going
to die!” My neighbor did not correct his little boy, but
smiled sheepishly as he steered him toward the door.
This father is failing his son. As the God-appointed
authority in his child’s life, he is teaching his son that it’s
okay to disrespect all authority figures—including God.
Our experience with our earthly father inevitably forms
of our view of God. In his book Faith of the Fatherless,
Paul Vitz observes that many of the world’s leading
atheists—such as Nietzsche, Hume, Russell, Sartre, and
Camus—grew up without fathers. Could the absence of
their earthly fathers explain why it was so hard for them to
believe in the existence of a heavenly Father?
If you grew up with an absent or abusive father, you
will tend to project this bad experience upon God. But
if you realize this natural bent, you may be able to lay it
aside. Recognize that you’re the victim of bad parenting
and seek out a father figure who can restore your faith in
God. Above all, start with God, allowing His revelation
(rather than your difficult childhood) to define what it
means to be a father. Believe Jesus when He says that
“your heavenly Father already knows all your needs”
and is eager to “give good gifts to those who ask Him”
(Matthew 6:32; 7:11).
If you’re a father, know that how you love your children will determine their
perception of God. Being a good dad does not guarantee that your children will
love God, but a bad dad can certainly cause them to struggle in their relationship
with Him. Ninety percent of parenting is just showing up, but the other 10 percent
matters too. —Mike Wittmer
• Genesis 18:19
• Proverbs 23:22-25
• Hebrews 12:5-13
The one thing that most prisoners have in
common is absent or abusive fathers. Why? If
you are a single mother, what can you do to help
your children understand the love of their heavenly