When working in our basement home office, I will occasionally flip through some photo albums of my childhood or look at pictures on the shelves when taking a writing or study break.
Some of my favorite pictures are of me with my wife when we were first dating, photos of my grandparents, and artwork of our three kids.
I hold a special, sentimental connection to some photos of me in my early youth, however. For starters, there is a striking resemblance between me and our eldest child (now aged seven). Fortunately, our son and I hold much more in common than simply our dashing good looks (okay, I’m biased).
The Father-Son Bond
When I look through family pictures of when I was young, I can’t help but recall a special relationship with my father growing up. I am then reminded of my great desire to have the same bond with both of our sons.
Don’t get me wrong – I love our daughter with all of my heart and I am deeply blessed to have her and be her daddy, as I recently shared. Yet, I also know from first-hand experience how important a strong father-son tie can be and I can only hope and pray that I may live in such a way that fosters that equally with our two boys.
Whether it’s playing catch in the backyard, singing songs while driving in the van, indoctrinating them with a passion for my favorite sports teams, or telling jokes that introduce them to my sense of pun-filled humor, there are so many golden opportunities to spend quality time with my boys. Reading together, helping them with their schooling, building Lego sets, having life chats, and going for bike rides are just some of the other bonding activities that we are fortunate to practice regularly.
Raising Men of God
However, a dad’s bond with his sons—much like with his daughter—extends far beyond simply doing activities together and having fun. I can never discount the immense responsibility that comes with growing our union. With this in mind, teaching and raising our boys so they will grow into godly men is paramount.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 NLT
Fathers in the Bible
Looking at the more notable father-son duos in the Bible, one cannot deny the effect of a healthy relationship with God in their lives. Whether Noah and his three sons, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and his 12 sons, or Jesse influencing David and, by extension, his grandson Solomon . . . all of these examples show what can happen when we live a life devoted to our Heavenly Father.
I was blessed to have my parents work together to teach my sisters and me so many wonderful and supportive lessons about life, always emphasizing God as our foundation. My wife and I are equally committed to doing the same for our children. The teachings we impart on our kids are most impactful if they are rooted in Jesus’ gospel messages.
My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. Proverbs 1:8 NLT
The Fatherhood of Joseph
Another exemplary model that inspires strong manhood and fatherhood comes courtesy of Jesus’ earthly guardian—Joseph. Dads looking to instill positive values in their sons would be wise to emulate him in their daily journey.
A man loyal in faith, Joseph is a beacon of virtue for fathers to introduce to their children, encouraging their boys to grow into strong men while presenting an ideal measure of future husband for their daughters to consider.
As detailed in a book about St. Joseph I read long ago but keep close by on my shelf, St. Joseph embodied many significant attributes. He was a man who displayed integrity and commitment, sensitivity and awareness, spiritual discipline, and righteousness.
The Measure of a Man
As husband to Mary, parent for Jesus, a carpenter in his community, and servant of the Lord, he humbly revealed how to live respectfully and honorably. The leader of the Holy Family and the patron saint of workers, St. Joseph’s qualities can be deemed the standard for fathers to illustrate to their sons, encouraging a path to a prosperous life promised by God.
I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble. Proverbs 4:11-12 NLT
Hall of Fame baseball player Ernie Banks once said, “The measure of a man is in the lives he’s touched.” When recognizing the value of a father—once a boy who later grew into form as a man—we can look more specifically to the words of author Brian Herbert, who stated, “How will I be remembered by my children? This is the true measure of a man.”
So as dads everywhere prepare to celebrate Father’s Day with their families, may each one enjoy the assortment of cards and crafts made by their kids, or their relaxing afternoon on the golf course, or a rare nap on the couch.
But may each dad also forever treasure the bond held with his children, and how his sons in particular watch him with admiring eyes. Just as our Heavenly Abba guides us dads everywhere in our vital role, may we always hold dear our great privilege in leading our sons along the course of becoming men.