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Core Christianity: Tough Questions Answered

From Wanting to Be a Good Dad to Just Being Dad

by Scott L. Keith posted September 21, 2017

I Never Knew My Father

My father died when I was two years old. I have no memories of him. As a result, I often have felt as though my entire life has been an attempt to fill the void that fatherlessness leaves in a mans heart. Consequently, I have always wanted to be a good dad.

When I became a father, I was a theology student at Concordia University in Irvine under the tutelage of Dr. Rod Rosenbladt (Dad-Rod). Beyond learning theology, Dad-Rod was also teaching me about fatherhood and being a dad.

Being Dad Father as a Picture of Gods Grace is my attempt to restate what I learned from Dad-Rod during those years.

First, a Dad is the Model of Grace in the Home

We need to know that God calls dads into the lives of their children so that through them children may experience Gods grace in a very personal way. The fathers vocation in the home is to point his children to the graciousness we have received because of Christ. A father is called to be a little Christ to his first neighbors: his family. Fathers teach grace and forgiveness to the family by being the voice of Gods grace in the home.

Second, and Correspondingly, a Dad is Not a Mom!

If you are a father, you are not a mother with bigger muscles and a deeper voice. Sure, Mom will need your help to discipline your children. But the temptation is to mistakenly believe that Dad's full-time calling is being the heavy hand in the family. Dad is not the bicep! The father is the head of the family, and thus as Christ is the head of the church, he is grace, forgiveness, and graciousness to his family. That is what God has called dads to be.

Third, On Compliance and Good Behavior

Most dads want compliant children. I pray that I have throttled that sinful desire enough to have raised gracious and kind children instead who know that they are forgiven because of Christ. Compliance is of the Law. The Law always condemns. Therefore, compliance equals condemnation. It is our sin that leads us to believe that adding more lawmore demand for complianceis the answer to every, or any, problem. How can a father be about grace and forgiveness if he is rather about compliance, which equals condemnation? He cant.

If we as dads want our children to be good, or gracious, or kind, first we need to try to preach, teach, and model to them the gospel of Christ, which is Gods grace and forgiveness.

Fourth, Fathers Need to be Masculine

Masculinity, in turn, does not need to be a bad thing, but rather like what a man was created to be: a man!

Sometimes men are coarse and gruff, and rough around the edges, and callous, and offensive, and brave, and daring, and careless, and quietly kind. A man will often say that he loves you as much with his gestures as with his words. A man, a dad, will encourage you to be adventurous while mom is telling you to be careful, and that is okay. Masculinity is about teaching the qualities of a man through being honorable, trustworthy, brave, and strong while being kind and forgiving all at the same time.

Lastly, Dads Need Forgiveness as Much as They Give It

Being the model of Gods grace in the home is not an easy position to take. I have lost my temper and been the heavy more than I have been this idealized model of grace. Too often I have praised the use of the Law in my house over and against the need for the Gospel. I am sorry for this and ask forgiveness from my entire family.

I need forgiveness because I am a dad. Having found perfect forgiveness in Christ, I am now set free from the Law that binds me. I am free to be forgiveness to those God has placed in my care. I am a dad!

Photo of Scott L. Keith

Scott L. Keith

Dr. Scott Keith is Director of Operations and Scholarship for 1517 The Legacy Project and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Concordia University, Irvine. He is a Contributor to The Jagged Word, 1517 The Legacy Project, and Christ Hold Fast. He is also the co-host of The Thinking Fellows podcast. He earned his doctorate from Foundation House Oxford, under the sponsorship of the Graduate Theological Foundation, studying under Dr. James A. Nestingen. Dr. Keiths research focused on the doctrine of good works in the writings of Philip Melanchthon. His recent book, Being Dad: Father as a Picture of Gods Grace, explains how the graciousness and forgiveness that a good father pronounces in the home serves as a picture of Gods grace to prodigals everywhere. He is married to his wife Joy for over twenty years and has three children and two grandchildren.

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