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The Powerful Influence of a Father

An old story tells us about a man who asked three stone masons what they were doing. The first man said he was laying bricks. The second man described his work as building a wall. But it was the third man who explained genuine concern for his work. He said, "I am raising a great cathedral." Ask this same question to a group of fathers concerning their role in the family, and you would get many contrasting answers. One father might say, "I am supporting my family." Another father might see his role differently and say, "I am raising children." One father sees his responsibility to put food on the table, while the other sees his responsibility as participating in the shaping of his child's life.

Fathers have great power to shape the emotional, psychological and spiritual health of their children. A recent Reader's Digest article called "Life without Father" shared some informing words on the lasting influence of a father on the lives of his children. The article explained, "In the early years more than two-thirds of all children prefer to play with their fathers. Playing with a father is very important in teaching children the importance of self-control. . . Children who roughhouse with their fathers quickly learn that biting, kicking and other forms of physical violence are not acceptable. . . Several studies have found that a father's presence is one of the determiners of girls' proficiency in mathematics. An astonishing 26-year study found that the most important childhood factor in developing empathy was the father's involvement in child care!"

Are you surprised that a father has such a powerful influence? God's Word has told us of a father's powerful influence long before our modern sociological psychological studies. "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. . . " (Psalm 127:4-5, NIV).

"When I was a boy in my father's house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, 'Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live'" (Prov. 4:3-4, NIV).

The Scripture also gives a clear warning to fathers about misusing this power of influence on their children. "Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged." (Col. 3:21, NKJ).

The Lord has given fathers the power to make a tremendous impact on their children. Fathers can use their powerful influence to either build or destroy their child's life. So dads, are you merely putting food on the table or are you participating in the shaping of your child's life?

Contributed by Doug Turney.