Christian Devotionals

Characteristics of a Great Dad (1)
'...we loved you so much...' 1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV

Becoming a great dad calls for a man having a close relationship with his heavenly Father. Applying the principles Paul used when fathering his spiritual children can equip you to become a great dad. Speaking to his 'children', Paul demonstrates the warmth of a mother and the muscle of a father (see 1 Thessalonians 2:7-11). For the next few days, let's observe some of Paul's fathering principles: Making them feel loved. 'We loved you so much.' Paul chose a seldom-used Greek word for love, not the usual word for unconditional love or brotherly affection. The word he used meant a strong, warm, spontaneous magnetism-an endearing term used normally with a very young child. Why would Paul speak this way to adults? Because the need to be loved is one we never outgrow! He wanted them to feel loved. The Bible says: '...the greatest of these is love.' (1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV) Dad, more than anything else, that is what your children need from you and it doesn't have a thing to do with their age; they need it as much in adulthood as they did in childhood. Your adolescent will probably cringe if you're affectionate with them around their peers, but deep inside they'll appreciate it. And it has nothing to do with their gender. Both sexes need to feel loved. Your teenage daughter is likely to return your hugs and words, while your teenage son will probably roll his eyes and grunt inarticulately. Love them anyhow, until they're old enough to tell you how good it felt!

Characteristics of a Great Dad (2)
'...we loved you so much...' 1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV

Sharing your life with them. 'We were delighted to share with you...our lives.' How can your daughter learn healthy relations with men, or your son develop a healthy male identity, unless you share your life with them? Today's mother-led family is largely the creation of the absentee father. Dad, you share your life with your kids by: (1) Sharing your values. They need to know what's important to you and where your priorities lie, what you stand for and truly believe. (2) Sharing how they can live by Biblical principles. Life will throw obstacles in their pathway, confusing them. They need to know God's ways and God's Word when making tough, crucial decisions. (3) Sharing moments of laughter and fun. When you come home do your kids scatter or gather around you? Are you fun to be with? Teach them that Christianity is something to be enjoyed, not endured. They say: 'The family that prays together stays together.' So does the family that plays together! (4) Sharing with them the finer interests of life. Criticising their interests only strengthens their commitment to them. Instead of condemning their music, dress, TV shows and internet use, introduce them to better alternatives. (5) Telling them how valuable they are to you. Don't assume they know. Researchers say that most kids, particularly boys, feel like nuisances to their dads. 'We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you...our had become so dear to us.' Tell them again and again!

Characteristics of a Great Dad (3)
'...we loved you so much...' 1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV

Hard work. 'Surely you remember...we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone.' (v9) If the church had been an army, Paul would have been a commanding general. He could easily have given orders to be provided for to whatever extent he chose, and been obeyed. But he didn't do that. What he did was work hard, beyond the requirements of his ministry, to alleviate the financial burden others would have had on his behalf. Dad, your kids need to see you do the same, because: (1) By seeing you work hard it elevates the importance of work and helps them discover dignity in it. 'Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.' (Proverbs 10:4 NIV) (2) By allowing them to share work with you around the home, you prepare them for success on the job by imparting to them much-needed work principles and skills. 'Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.' (Proverbs 22:29 NIV) You'll be preparing them to be recognised for excellence and promoted because of their outstanding work ethic and skills. In a time of economic trouble when only the strong survive the competition, prepare your children to be the best they can be. The attitudes and abilities you nurture in them will benefit them all their lives.

Characteristics of a Great Dad (4)
'...we loved you so much...' 1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV

Spiritual leadership. 'Surely you remember...we preached the you.' (v9) A recent survey of Christian families shows that one in ten fathers pray with their children, and one in 25 fathers read the Bible to them. Many of us remember being raised by godly mothers (thank God for them!) while our fathers were either marginally involved, or totally uninvolved with the family's spiritual life. Though Mum is leading the spiritual charge, God still holds Dad accountable to do it (see Ephesians 6:4). Mum may take the kids to church, pray with them and teach them Biblical principles, but kids have a core need only a father can meet. So model for them the life-shaping, loving character of their heavenly Father. Adults reared without the influence of a godly father frequently report something missing in themselves, preventing their feeling comfortable and intimate with their heavenly Father. He seems inaccessible, unaffectionate, judgmental, conditionally accepting, grudgingly forgiving, and predominantly punitive. They pray infrequently because prayer feels awkward, like 'bothering God' who's 'way too busy to listen to my needs'. Feeling this, many kids reject God altogether. On the other hand, adults whose dads were involved in leading the family spiritually seem relatively free from these problems. Dad, God has appointed you His representative in your kids' lives, and there's no substitute for you. It's time to take the wheel, whatever age your kids are, so that you, like Paul, can say, 'Surely you remember...while [I] preached the you!'

Characteristics of a Great Dad (5)
'...we loved you so much...' 1 Thessalonians 2:8 NIV

The example of a godly lifestyle. 'You are witnesses, and so is God, of how...we were among you...' (1 Thessalonians 2:10 NIV) Paul's audience could judge his claims because they witnessed his lifestyle. Dad, it's pointless to 'talk the talk' if there's no audience, and you can only 'talk what you walk' if there is. And at home, there is always an audience. If you're not consistent there, they won't buy it. Demonstrating a godly lifestyle requires two qualities: () Honesty. Your kids don't need perfect parents, they need honest ones. If you're wrong, admit it. Many kids never hear a parent say, 'I'm sorry, I was wrong.' So they either perceive honesty and humility as weakness, or their parents as inconsistent. Either sets them up for a life of arrogance and trouble. () Being positive. Surveys show that most parents' feedback to their kids is ten-to-one negative. 'You'll never amount to...Why do you always?...You never use your head.' Statistically, fathers are more apt to make such statements. Dad, shift the balance to the positive! How did Paul do it? 'We dealt with each of you as a father deals...encouraging, comforting and urging you.' (vv11-12) It takes encouragement: inspiring, strengthening and stretching them to realise their potential. It takes comfort: life's tough; boost their spirit, don't break it. It takes urging: developing their perseverance by saying, 'Don't quit, you can do it!' Did it work for Paul? Yes! 'You received the Word of God...from us...which is at work in you.' (v13) Will it work for you and your kids? Yes!

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