Our challenge and goal as fathers should be this simple: To be the best dads we can be for our kids, understanding that we are all “God’s work in progress" and that the results are ultimately His.
I’ll start off by saying what you already know. There is no silver bullet or magic potion when it comes to making great dads. I wish it were that easy, as it could have saved me from many painful fatherhood fiascos. Yet, we can gain great insights from Scripture and from gleaning from some godly fathers that have gone before us.
Over the past decade, I’ve been blessed to serve alongside men doing all they can to be the best dads they can be. While each one of these men have their unique styles, they definitely share some common traits or focus points that make them effective within their fatherhood roles. I have personally been blessed by being around these men and want to share some of the insights I’ve gained.
Some of these should be no-brainers. However, if you’re like me, we sometimes need reminded of the basics. My dad was great in driving this point home. He often related this truth to sports. However, the veracity of this maxim holds true in almost any area of life: If something isn’t going well, make sure the fundamentals or basics are getting done. Too often during life’s chaotic times, we forget the basics and pay the price. As a matter of fact, I’ll go ahead and include this fatherhood truism within our 10 Traits of Great Dads.
10 Traits of Effective Dads:
- They keep their lives de-compartmentalized. They are the same man, husband, and father regardless of where and when. This directly connects to the character of these men. None are perfect, but I would trust every one of them with my kids.
- They realize that their manhood and fatherhood is directly tied to their relationship with God. This means time in God’s Word, time in prayer, and time with God’s people is an essential part of their lives.
- If married, they uphold their wives as their number one friend and co-worker in life. They realize that loving their wives is one of the greatest things they could ever give their kids, and they protect their marriage like it’s their life.
- They practice the discipline of meekness. They exemplify the combination of humility and strength. Men need to be strong for their families not at their families. These great dads get this idea well. In these homes, yelling and abuse of any kind is never tolerated.
- They’ve tied their hearts to the hearts of their children. There is a very special God-given bond that they cherish and cultivate on a daily basis. This means they are always looking to create heart-moments with their kids, especially when it comes to sharing God’s love and truth with them.
- They honor their child’s gender and unique giftedness. They raise their sons to be men and their daughters to become women. There is a difference and a good father knows how to engage both his sons and daughters. When most dads pull back during the adolescent years, these astute men mentor and engage at an even deeper level.
- They are great listeners and make themselves available for those “by the way” teaching moments and conversations with their children (Deut. 6:5-7). This is one of those areas of life that needs to be constantly on my radar. As I've find out multiple times, these "heart-string" moments with my kids just often happen. Not to say we can't plan and be intentional with "one on one" time with our children. However, it never fails that our children want to be engaged at times when we were planning on doing something else, i.e. a needed house project or just needing to go to bed. I'll say this, dads that are nailing it in this area have never regretted the time they've taken to listen to the hearts of their kids. As a matter of fact, this is likely one of the biggest reasons they connect so well with their kids. These dads have invested the time to truly get to know the hearts and souls of their children.
- They make their children feel special and believe in them. I thought this quote by the late Jim Valvano is very fitting: “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” Great dads believe in their kids, and their kids know how special they are.
- Mercy and grace are a part of their households. As sinners, these men know that we will always be dealing with offenses and trip-ups. This makes mercy and grace two of their strongest relationship allies. A saying we often come back to is, “forgiven and forgiving.” In this regards, they take the lead in admitting when they are wrong and asking for forgiveness.
- They take care of the fundamentals or basics (the list above). If something seems out of place with your life and your family, there usually are some fundamentals in your life that are not getting done. That's why prayerful evaluation is a life-trait of successful dads. It's hard to re-calibrate your life if it is constantly in the hectic mode.
Many of us could likely keep this list going into the hundreds. Yet, if we take care of these basics, we will become better dads. That reminds me of one last “Great Dad Trait.” They get things done on a regular basis. They’re not ones to put off something that needs to get done. Procrastination is not in their life dictionary, and execution is their middle name.
Our challenge and goal as fathers should be this simple: To be the best dads we can be for our kids, understanding that we are all “God’s work in progress" and the results are ultimately His. Just like in sharing our faith, as dads, we "plant and water." God grows them (1 Cor. 3:6). As I submit my life and fatherhood role to God, my prayer is that He does His good work in and through me. Praise God for that.
“being confident of this, that He who begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
Written by JT Waresak