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Opinion | Fatherhood: Three-point job description

As we approached the odometer turning over another year in our life, it is a reasonable response to review our notable benchmarks from last year and think about the challenges and summits to conquer in the upcoming year.  While there are innumerable final medals we hope to pin on our chest, when we exchange the temporal life for eternal life, our greatest legacy we leave behind is our children and our children’s children.  If you are not interested in a biblical order, then you will not find this article interesting or helpful, to the contrary this article is designed to inject the biblical role of a father’s job description.   

At the outset, man and woman after their creation in the Garden of Eden, were commanded by God to be fruitful and multiply, having children is obedience to God.  Children are defined in one illustration of scripture as arrows in our quiver.  By the age of eighteen, most children are thinking of higher learning and launching their life.  I have often said, whatever preparations and core values I wanted to impart, needed to be in place by the age of eighteen, even though I would always be a father to my children.  This moment is when the bow is drawn, and thearrows are launched into this world to make their mark.  My father was not a deeply spiritual man, but he was a Christian and like most of us, had his flaws.  By the age of eighteen, heprepared me for life and sealed within me all the ingredients necessary to reach my maximum potential.  As a side note, I was married three days after I turned eighteen and married my first and only wife Deborah of 47 years.  My father effortlessly fulfilled his three-point job description, while many fathers struggle to even know their role.  I recently discovered after taking it for granted observing my son and son in law applying these principles, only to find out that other fine fathers around me did not function in all three.  This discovery served as an inspiration for writing this article.  

In scripture, man was created before woman and so noted as the high priest in the home, not to reign supreme and lord over, but to out serve and bear the heaviest load.  If we all function humbly in our designated role, there is no power struggles or adversely take on what is not divinely designed in God’s structure that applies in the home, church or workplace.  I have always said to men under my watch, you make her queen and you automatically assume the title of king without the recognition, fanfare or the wheelless thrown (litter) designed to carry a king.  To the contrary, man was designed to be on the plow and manning the wheelbarrow load for the family.  Let’sget to the three-point job description, protect, provide and confirm.

Our first job foremost is the protector of the family.  Physically we are stronger, scripture mentions if you can bind the strong man in the house you can conquer that house.  With human trafficking and violent crimes hitting the exponential curve, now more than ever our families need protection.  It is true, never get between a mama bear and her cub, it’s a very dangerous place because she is going to protect with her babies risking her own life.  Men, our women always want and need to feel protected and safe.  Our job is to ascend to the watch tower of our homes protecting our family, looking for those security breaches in the wall, obvious exposures and inoculate these threats in advance.  Protection is job one.

We are designed to be providers for our home. When my son in law asked for my daughters hand in marriage, I vividly recall laying out four prerequisites; divorce is not in your vocabulary, get compressive premarital counseling and go through a vigorous Christian based home budgeting and financial training.  The final note I told him if my daughter wanted to work, that was between them, but if she decided one day to come home, have his financial house in order so she could do so.  By the way, he exceeded well in all these assignments, he makes a sound living, my daughter is at home and they have 9 children. While being a provider is a very high priority, it is a delicate balance to not sacrifice your presence in the home all in the name of being a great provider.  Provider is job two.

As a precursor to confirming our children, let us pause for a minute and look some biblical examples.  Jacob had twelve sons, which became the twelve tribes of Israel.  Each of his sons had their distinct gifts, callings, assignments and were not in competition with each other.  On his deathbed, Jacob raised up in the bed and called his sons together. He blessed each one of them verbally and noted their gifts, strengths and calling.  He also in a fatherly loving manner, warned them of their weaknesses.  He sealed and confirmed them in this final blessing, equipping each one of them for their station in life.  Jacob wanted his sons to far exceed what he had accomplished in life, he was not in competition with his boys, but more of the role of high priest, mentor, coach, expediter, facilitator cheerleader.  One of Jacob’s flaws of fatherhood was having a favorite son, Joseph.  Enraged from jealousy, Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill him and ultimately sold him off into slavery to the Egyptians.  One of my father’s flaws was allowing his sons to compete, which even today has consequences of strained relationships.  Having favorites and allowing siblings to compete inside the family will yield life scarring results.  Scripture teaches our posterity will be sevenfold the blessing or sevenfold the curse in the next generation.  Some men however have the notion they need to compete and outperform their sons which negates any confirmation.  We should strive to help our children exceed sevenfold beyond our highest benchmark.  

In a practical sense, our confirmation job as fathers is so simple, yet has far reaching complex outcomes with the blessing in place or with the absence of the blessing.  Depending on your data source, generally 85 percent of those incarcerated were raised in a home without their father.  Many adults in society today, struggle with their identity, wrestle with insecurities and wander around rudderless because of the absence of the blessing or what is labeled in this article as confirmation.    

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On the other hand, be that father that finds their children doing something right and praises them.  Recognizing their gifts, talents and championing the advancement of these God given traits.  Let your children know they are handsome – pretty, they are going to make it and you are okay, even when the world is pounding them with the contrary.  Gently guiding them to overcome their flaws and providing them with caution signs along life’s way neutralizing negative consequences derived from unchecked needed calibrations.   

Scripture tells us that the woman is to guide the house. She is the natural nester, comforter, nurturer, healer and so much more.  Even her physical make up by God’s design of her body allows her to conceive, carry, give birth and nurse her newborn child, man is not designed in this way.  What I do graphically remember though is my father had the final word, I feared him coming home on the day I misbehaved or disobeyed my mother.  While he had the final word in the house on our well-deserveddiscipline, he also had the final words to seal me.  I recall at age twelve on his lap one day telling me how talented I was and that I could accomplish anything in life.  All my life, even after becoming an adult, he was the tireless encourager who gave me his blessings, confirmed and sealed me for life.  

My father even with his flaws, did a masterful job to protect, provide and confirm all of us.  As I watch my son and son in law fulfilling these three job descriptions, it comforts me to know what will be handed down for generations to come.  

If your children are still at home, it is never too late to prepare them for being launched.  If your children are adults, you will always be their father and your words of blessing, confirmation and sealing them never have an expiration date.

George William Childs once said, “I would rather have a plain coffin without a flower, a funeral without a eulogy, than a life without the sweetness of love and sympathy.  Let us learn to anoint our friends beforehand, before their burial, post-mortem kindness does not cheer the burdened spirit and flowers on a coffin cast no fragrance backward over the weary way.”

I have had friends and acquaintances throughout my life who longed to hear, even up to their father’s deathbed those powerful words of blessing and confirmation.  Let us not be counted among those lowered into the grave with empty children left behind.

Protect, provide and confirm.

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John W. Giles is former President of the Christian Coalition of Alabama. He served as Small Business Advocate for the State of Alabama during Governor Guy Hunt's Administration. He was also a member of Governor Fob James Cabinet.

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