Leadership is critical to achieving our goals in athletics. The same is true for any organization or nation. But we don’t simply need leadership. To achieve our greatest potential, we need effective leadership.
Descriptions of effective leadership in the Scriptures can be seen through fatherhood. Through God’s design, fathers are to serve as the primary leaders in each of our lives. How do the Scriptures display effective leadership through fatherhood?
- Fathers Lead Through Words — “And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy.” —1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NLT)
- Fathers Lead Through Training — “For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?” — Hebrews 12:6-7 (NLT)
- Fathers Lead Through Love — “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” — Psalm 103:13 (ESV)
The massive importance of fatherhood is evident from these passages, and research continues to remind us of a father’s value (Meeker 2006, 22-25).
Here are a few observations from the research:
- When children are blessed with fathers who are present and active in their lives, they demonstrate fewer instances of body dissatisfaction, depression, substance use and unhealthy weight gain.
- When fathers are involved in their children’s lives, they experience less anxiety and withdrawn behaviors. Daughters are more assertive and less likely to flaunt themselves seeking male attention. A father’s active presence in the home has a tremendous impact on his child’s decision-making in sexual activity and self-esteem.
- Children with a father in the home have a great advantage in succeeding academically, managing school stress and solving problems.
- Daughters who feel connected to their father are considerably less likely to consider suicide, and they demonstrate a stronger sense of right and wrong.
Each individual’s success, and the success of a nation, is seriously affected by our fathers. We must elevate this critical leadership role and urge fathers everywhere to live up to their calling.
But, what if we are missing a father in our lives? What if we didn’t have a man who positively embodied the effectiveness of this role? Just like any great leader, great fathers do not point children to themselves. They must point higher. They must point to the ultimate Father we all need. The great leader of Israel reminded them of this fact:
“Is not He your Father, who created you, who made you and established you?” — Deuteronomy 32:6
How do we experience this kind of relationship with God? Jesus came to make this relationship possible. Those who accept God’s Son are given His Spirit so they too can call God their Father (Galatians 4:5-7). This relationship enables His children to live their true purpose — through His Words, His training and His love.
- How have you experienced God’s leadership through a human father’s words, training or love?
- Which one of these categories of leadership has been most effective in your life?
- Which category has been missing through human leadership?
- How has Jesus enabled you to experience a relationship with God that you craved?
- How do these thoughts challenge you to encourage human fathers and/or live more like an effective leader?
2006. American Journal of Preventative Medicine 1. January 30: 59-66.
Coley, Rebekah Levine. 1998. “Children’s Socialization Experiences and Functioning in Single-Mother Households: The Importance of Fathers and Other Men.” Child Development. 69: 219-30.
Easterbrooks, M and Goldberg, W. 1984. “Toddler Development in the Family: Impact of Father Involvement and Parenting Characteristics.” Child Development. 55: 740-52.
Heatherington, E.M. and Martin, B. 1979. “Family Interaction.” Psychopathological Disorders of Childhood. 247-302.
Meeker, Meg. 2006. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. New York: Ballantine.
Morcoen, A and Verschuren, K. 1999. “Representation of Self and Socioemotional Competence in Kindergartners: Differential and Combined Effects of Attachment to Mother and Father.” Child Development. 70: 183-201.
Wassil-Grimm, Claudette. 1994. Where’s Daddy? How Divorced, Single and Widowed Mothers Can Provide What’s Missing When Dad’s Missing. New York: Overlook Press.