It was a quick trip to the park on a Saturday evening. Nothing major, just a few minutes with the family to get out the hyper-activity. I didn’t notice it right away, but once it sank in, there was not stopping the waves of sadness, frustration, and anger. It might not be a big deal to you, but it still stands out to me. It doesn’t have to do with what I saw, but rather, what I didn’t see! Out of all the families at the park that night, there was not another father with his child. Not one. Plenty of moms with their children, playing around the monkey bars, walking the track, throwing a Frisbee – but no dads.

There is a crisis of leadership among families – especially of godly, male leadership. Fathers are absent, too busy working to be present. Fathers are passive, too stressed and tired to be involved. Satan is attacking homes by attacking fathers… and it’s working! The US leads the world in fatherless families. Nearly 35% (over 1/3) of kids are without a father in their life. Twenty million children growing up in ‘head-less’ homes. The annual cost to the government due to fatherlessness: $100 billion.

STATS: Dads make a difference!
Dad, you might not feel like your presence is very important. You might not feel like you are making a difference, but you are. Fatherless kids are more likely to:
– Be convicted of a violent crime (2,000% more likely than those with fathers)
– Be involved in a teen / unwed pregnancy (700% more likely)
– Be involved in homosexuality, rape, sexual deviance (1,400% more likely)
– Be a high-school dropout (900%)
– Attempt suicide as a teenager (500%)
– Run away from home (3,200%)
– Abuse drugs / alcohol (1,000%)

The Kind of Dad who Makes the Difference
as seen in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 Text (v11): “as a father doth his children”

1.He is Gentle (v7) – he might be rough around the edges, he might have been a good candidate for the Hell’s Angels… but that doesn’t mean he can’t be gentle. Being gentle is being tender or mild. It is to interact with others through the grace of God. His tone (his words) should be gentle; his touch should be gentle (affectionately hugging his family).

2.He Gives of Himself (v8) – he is like a nursing mother who doesn’t want to give her baby anything but herself (no bottles, no formula). He bares himself in honesty and transparency with this family and lives sacrificially for them (Ephesians 5:25).

3.He is Gospel-Centered (v9) – not only is he a saved man, but he is familiar with the cross because he daily dies to himself. He knows God because he’s not afraid to be associated with Christ’s death, suffering and resurrection (Philippians 3:10). The Bible and the gospel aren’t separate from him, his life is lived for the glory of God.

4.He is Godly (v10) – he patterns his fathering after his Heavenly Father. Growing in holiness, dealing fairly with others, acting above board, without accusations. He seeks the Divine attributes as his own. He desires God’s presence and power upon Him (Matthew 6:33). He depends upon God more than he does himself or his work. He loves others more than they love in return. He is a good representative of God, the Father, to his children.

5.He Guides (v11) – he is actively building his family with spiritual coaching, emotional comfort, and Scriptural challenges. He is not a passive, ‘do as I say-not as I do’ kind of father. He is present and involved, walking with them over the mountains and through the dark valleys of life. It’s sad that many adolescent grow up without a guide to ‘forsake’ (Prov. 2:17) – even in so-called Christian homes.

6.He is Good at Reproducing Himself (v12) – whether consciously or not, he prepares another generation not only to fill his shoes, but also to surpass his spiritual devotion and to be great for God. He understands that his calling is far bigger than the here and now. He realizes that what he does (or doesn’t) affects eternity – and not just his eternity, either! Amazingly, he overcomes the enemies of pride, career-pressures, laziness, financial burdens, media bombardment, procrastination, sensual culture, selfishness, and more. His success isn’t measured during his lifetime, nor the next – his rewards will wait until all is tallied at the judgment (Matthew 25:23).