Parents play a crucial role in humanity, with a strong impact on society’s future structure.
Prudent parents can affect the emotional and social stability of their children, with profound positive effects on their communities. While there are different roles for the mother and father figures in a child’s life – each with their own individual importance, the combined effort is necessary for proper upbringing. The absence of one parental role model in upbringing often leaves the child deficient. There is a definite need for both parents in a child’s life. On this past Sunday, we celebrated fatherhood, with many of us remembering the men in our lives who raised and provided for us as we grew.
My childhood and much of my adult life were filled with many memories of my father. We often spent many summer days at my aunt’s house in the country. He would take us down to the catfish pond to pop water moccasins out of existence with a .22 rifle. I never got to shoot the gun myself because I was too young, but my brother and I would stand at his side and relish that smile of satisfaction that came to Daddy’s face when those snakes would go belly up in the water. Later on, when I was about 15, post tables would turn. My dad bought a 410 shotgun for me and took me out to teach me to shoot it for the first and last time. He handed it to me loaded, and as I look at it, I said I wonder if the safety is working. I wasn’t looking at where I was shooting and pulled the trigger. Needless to say, I did not get that shotgun for my 15th birthday. It waited until I was 21.
Daddy worked doggedly, as long as I can remember, to provide for his family while finding opportunities to spend quality time with us. We played together. We wrestled on the floor and went camping. We went to church every Sunday, even when he worked long hours on the other six days. Daddy’s faith supplemented the spiritual upbringing I experienced from other members of my family. He was my role model for how I would face the challenges my own faith later in life. He taught my brothers and I to mow a yard to make spending money. I developed my work ethics from his inspiration. You work for what you receive in life – it’s not meant to be a free-for-all. I still do not know how he could make so little money, yet still provide for a family of eight.
Daddy was not perfect either. He had a short temper and harbored prejudice against certain peoples. He often cussed when he was angry, and would throw hammers across the yard, but he never hurt any of his children. In fact, the harshest punishment I ever received from him were well-deserved paddlings or harsh scoldings, without which I might have turned out a much different person. Discipline is imperative in a young person’s life – as evidenced by the degradation of the morals and respect of many of today’s young people.
Girls and boys need the strength and stability of an upright father figure in their home life, as much as a mother figure.
God willed it that way, and it behooves us to adhere to that plan eons in the making. However, there are times when the father figure is not present or appropriate. Yahweh appropriates godly men and women filled with the Holy Spirit to step up and be the role model children desperately need in their lives.
Paul referred to this type of man when he addressed his second letter to Timothy, a young man he held high hopes for.
Spiritual fatherhood takes on various duties in the modern church, from teaching a Sunday School class to leading a congregation in worship. It is one of the greater, unspoken fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 2:22-23, stemming from the greatest gift of love, against which there is no law. Paul cared deeply for Timothy, empathizing with the trouble the young man experienced to maintain his faith in Christ as he grew in spiritual wisdom. While he was blessed by the teachings from deeply devoted followers of Yahweh in his mother and grandmother, his mentor made no mention of paternal figures in Timothy’s life.
1 Timothy 1:1-8
(1) This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I have been sent out to tell others about the life He has promised through faith in Christ Jesus. (2) I am writing to Timothy, my dear beloved son. May God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord, give you grace, mercy, and peace. (3) Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. (4) I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again. (5) I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. (6) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands upon you. (7) For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (8) So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News.
Beginning with verse 1, the Apostle Paul acknowledged his complete faith in Christ as the Messiah.
He explained the commission with which God charged him to declare the Gospel to as many other people as the Holy Spirit would draw unto him. He addressed the letter to Timothy, whom he considered his spiritual “child”. This is an indication that their relationship went much farther than teacher and student. Paul had a vested interest in the spiritual growth of the young man as a leader and fellow missionary.
Paul considered himself a spiritual father to Timothy, especially in the noted absence of a godly paternal influence in the young man’s home life. The Apostle also expressed this care to a lesser degree when he addressed the church at Corinth.
(1 Corinthians 4:15) For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you.
Paul acknowledged the true, genuine faith Timothy exhibited and kept the young man in constant prayer day and night.
In a similar manner to which a physical father showed concern for their child’s well-being, Paul expressed he knew Timothy suffered and endured trials that tested his Christian faith. He could not wait to express the joy of seeing him again, appreciative of the young man’s upbringing, which was blessed and overseen by God through the faith of his grandmother and mother.
Though Paul laid hands on Timothy to bless his ministry, it was the Holy Spirit that empowered the young man to act in service through his faith. The Holy Spirit empowers all Christians to be bold in our faith when we trust God, bestowing power, love, and self-discipline, among other gracious gifts.