When “God Our Father” Is A Bad Thing

This month we’re celebrating Father’s Day. I grew up with a loving, supportive, godly dad, so I look forward to telling him (again) how much he means to me. That’s not true for everyone.

As I grew up and encountered more of the world, I discovered some troubling things. One of those was valid reasons to want nothing to do with fathers of any kind. I don’t need to go into details, as I’m sure you’re already thinking of at least one such story.

There may be valid reasons for this reaction. However, it may cause hurdles in a relationship with God.

Let’s explore the Bible’s definition of a godly father and some things to consider when discussing fathers at church, especially God our Father.

How did God design the role of a father?

Much has been written on the biblical role of a father, so I’ll only highlight a few. (These verses are from All Pro Dad.)

A godly father shows the character of God in all he says and does. “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Cor. 3:2-3 NIV

A godly father provides for his family. “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Tim. 5:8 NIV

A godly father trains and teaches his children. “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Prov. 22:6 NIV

A godly father spends time with his children, showing them how to honor God in everyday life. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deut. 6:6-9 NIV

A godly father has compassion for his children. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Ps. 103:13 NIV

A godly father corrects his children when they are wrong. “The one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Prov. 13:24b NIV

A godly father respects his children. “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4 NIV

Like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20-24), a godly father never gives up on his children.

Like King David, a godly father prays for his children. “And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” 1 Chron. 29:19 NIV

What should we expect from our earthly fathers?

God has set a high bar for a godly father. That is the goal for which godly fathers should strive, but all earthly fathers are fallen humans, just like the rest of us. Romans 3:23 reminds us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (NIV). Earthly fathers will make mistakes. Some will be small, some will be big, and some will be huge.

A godly father will confess his sins and ask for forgiveness (Jas. 1:6). Even if he doesn’t, it is not our place to judge. God is the only true and righteous judge (Rom. 2:1-4).

Side Note: If you are in an unsafe situation, please get to a safe place and find help. Here are some resources you may find helpful if you live in the USA. Here are some global resources.

2 Ways To Sensitively Talk About God As Father

1. Add the adjective “perfect.” God is our perfect Father. This one additional word sets God apart from our earthly fathers. It’s also biblical. God is holy (set apart and perfect). Why not include that in our description of God as our Father? I typically use the adjective “perfect” rather than “holy” because more people know what perfect means. “Good” is another alternative.

2. When making Father’s Day gifts and cards (especially in the children’s ministry), open it up to any father figures in their lives. You can explain the term “father figure” by saying it is a man who is older than you that you spend time with, someone you can go to for advice or help. It’s helpful for the teacher to know a bit about the family. If the child has a dad, stepdad, male caregiver, etc., the teacher can suggest this person as the father figure. Also, be open to kids making more than one card or gift.

For more ideas on ways to celebrate father figures this Father’s Day, grab the FREEBIE below (available seasonally).

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Nancy Ruth

Nancy Ruth is the Co-Founder and Primary Content Creator at Parent Road Ministries. Learn more at https://parentroadmin.com/about-us/

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