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Scripture is replete with good and bad examples of of fathers. In Judges, both Eli and Samuel were dedicated priests but defective parents. In contrast, we do find some outstanding examples of what a good father is like. Consider Zebedee whose two sons, James and John, became disciples and Apostles. What did he do that proved so constructive to his children? Consider these four characteristics.
First, he influenced his sons by his presence. Matthews' Gospel tells us that they worked together. Every child needs time with his or her father. We only influence people when we spend time with them. The idea that quality time is a legitimate substitute for quantity time is a myth. So, for you fathers, are you spending time with your kids? Remember, you only have a limited season to influence your kids, then the opportunity is gone.
Second, he imparted his values. He taught them how to work and how to work together. He taught them how to solve problems, plan, and make decisions. He showed them how to put God first in everything.
Third, he was involved in his sons' lives. By this, I mean more than just being present. He was so involved that his sons were known as "the sons of Zebedee." Also they were called "the sons of thunder" which for better or worse demonstrated his influence because of his involvement. In the words of Cat Stevens, "I want to be like you dad, I want to be just like you." My attitude was always if my kids turn out bad, it was because they spent too much time with me and not from a lack of time.
Finally, he taught his children to be independent. Our goal should be to lead each child from total dependence upon us to a total dependence upon the Lord. As we help them on the pathway to independence from us, we need to give them two things: roots and wings. "Roots" represent security, identity, and the sense that they belong. They are loved unconditionally. "Wings" say you can spread your wings and fly! You can become whatever God wants you to become. We will be there to help you, encourage you, and facilitate your pressing on to maturity.
What lessons have you learned about parenting from your parents or by being a parent yourself?