Keith Wishum: The heart of a father
At the heart of America’s failures is the failure of its fathers. Our test scores lag in school, not because of a faulty faculty, but because of unfaithful fathers. Our prisons overflow, not because of the neighborhood in which our children are raised, but because of the lack of fatherhood in which they are reared.
Check the research on every front and you will find agreement. The absence of a father in a home with children produces devastating results. Kids growing up in that environment are:
• More likely to struggle in school
• More likely to experiment with drugs
• More likely to commit suicide
• More likely to be sexually active before marriage
• More likely to commit crimes
That is no reflection on single mothers who valiantly provide for their children, often with excellent results. But it does validate what God has been trying to tell us all along. Children develop better when a loving father is present.
The Bible is not bashful about making what some would perceive to be a politically incorrect assertion. Proverbs 3 makes it clear that a child needs the discipline of a father. When God instructs a parent to provide training for children, it is to fathers that he speaks (Ephesians 6:4). Part of the mission of John the Baptizer was that he would “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children … to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
The Creator of children says they grow and function best when they have a father. The “traditional” family became a tradition for good reason. It works!
If you have fathered a child, be a father to that child. If you are a father, recognize the enormous value of the time you spend with your children. As Jean Paul Richter said, “What a father says to his children is not heard by the world; but it will be heard by posterity.”
If you aren’t a father, chances are you know one. Encourage him. You don’t have to wait till Father’s Day. Do it today. Thank him for the contribution he makes to the stability of his family and his community.
The Bible refers often to our Creator as “Father.” What that word means to a new generation depends largely upon how we earthly fathers fulfill our role. What a tremendous opportunity! What an awesome responsibility!
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.