How to Be a Powered-up Dad 6/20/99

Ephesians 6:1-3

JESUS CHRIST had an earthly dad who obviously impacted his life constructively. Joseph is an unsung hero in the family of Jesus and His brothers and sisters.

Two stories regarding Joseph let us see two sides of fatherhood.

It was the day of the final rehearsal for the Christmas pageant when a mother called the teacher to report her child who was to play the role of Joseph was sick and would not be able to be in the play. The teacher knowing it was too late to get a replacement said, “That’s OK we’ll just write Joseph out of the script.” They did and no one noticed.

There are some dads who feel they won’t be missed if they don’t function, but they are.

A major problem in America today isn’t there are too many dad’s with children, but that there are too many children without dads.

A second story regarding Joseph comes from a plantation home near Thomaston in South Georgia. Tours of the home are accompanied by hosts or hostesses. Occasionally the number of tourists requires more than are available. There is an old butler in the home that fills in and perhaps does the best job of all. He always stops before a large painting of the Nativity. Diligently he identifies and explains the role of every figure. There is the unbiblical donkey everyone assumes brought Mary to Bethlehem, the shepherds, and the wise men are even included. He talks about Mary and the infant Jesus and explains their roles. Then he points out Joseph and says, “There is ole Joe, he’s just there.”

In doing so he identifies for us one of the most strategic roles of a dad. He’s just there. Being there is critically important to the role of dad. The absentee father is one of the most detrimental things in American life.

It is a matter of poor spelling. Love as spelled by children is T-I-M-E.

Dads often spell it M-O-N-E-Y!

I saw this misspelling dramatized in a family. The child had been stealing money from his dad. He would get it out of his wallet during the night. If any was left on a dresser he would pick it up. The professional counselor explained it. The dad spent all of his time making money. To the child time equaled money. The parent wasn’t giving the time so the child took the symbol of time, the money.

The saying “time is money” has never been more true. Many people are living a life of time- depravity. Many time-challenged Americans are evidencing a willingness to cut corners to scale down their lives.

Nearly 1/3 of all Americans get by on less than 6 hours of sleep.

An estimated 81% of employed Americans feel the need to simplify their lives and create more time for home and family.

Managing your time is managing your life. Managing your calendar is managing your life.

Keeping up with your child is more important than keeping up with the Joneses. Work for too many dads is their priority, not the family. Our government boasts of creating thousands of new jobs. One dad said, “Yeah, I know they have because I have four of them.”

Consider this: “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own child?”

We must learn to balance the material wonders of technology with the spiritual demands of our human nature. (John Naisbitt)

Developing into a dad is a delightful challenge. It is delightful but it is challenging in light of where we come from. Differences in males and females is observable at young ages. Watch little girls at play they are talking and sharing. Their sounds are for communicating.

Observe and listen to little boys at play. Their sounds are not for communication. They are simply sounds: crash, boom, smack, yow, ugh. Moving from that level of communication to learning to be expressive to a wife and children is a task.

Failing to do it leads to failure.

For the longest time the children in the family had pleaded for a hamster. They made all the promises regarding care and feeding. Finally, the parents weakened and bought one. With excitement the children named it Danny. Soon the care of Danny became the sole responsibility of mom. Creative mom soon found a new home for Danny and told the children Danny was on the way out. They took it well but one child exclaimed, “He’s been around here a long time and we are going to miss him.”

“Yes,” said mom, “but he is too much work for one person, and since I am that one person, I say Danny goes.”

Another more compassionate child pleaded, “Well, maybe if he wouldn’t eat so much and wouldn’t be so messy, we could keep him.”

Mom was firm. “It’s time to take Danny to his new home,” she insisted. “Go get his cage.”

In one voice and in tears the children exclaimed, “Danny? Oh, no! We thought you said daddy!”

Dad are you so endeared to the family that your departure would be met with more resistance than that of a hamster?

The Bible gives insight into how to function as a dad in a constructive way that is sure to be endearing.

It begins with your love for your wife. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church…” Put her interest first.

Barbara Walters did a story on gender roles in Kuwait several years before the Gulf War, and noticed women customarily walked about ten feet behind their husbands. She returned to Kuwait after the war and noticed the men now walking several yards behind their wives.

Perceiving this to be progress she exclaimed to a wife, “This is marvelous. What enabled women here to achieve this reversal of roles?”

The Kuwaiti woman replied, “Land mines.”

Husbands don’t wait for some upheaval to cause you to consider the welfare of your wife. Above all remember she is still an admirable bit like she was as a little girl. She still wants to use words to communicate.

The Bible identifies three things a dad should do in Ephesians 6:1-3.


“Do not provoke your children to wrath…”

How is this done?
1. Saying one thing and doing another.
2. Showing favoritism.
3. Making promises and not keeping them
4. Constantly finding fault.
5. Dishing out harsh criticism.

Let’s turn this negative, “don’t provoke your children to wrath,” into a positive as expressed in Colossians 3:21: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Encourage them.

Standing by the pool suddenly a cousin screamed, “Where is Jamie?” Jamie’s dad looked around in horror and there in the bottom of the deep water of the pool on the bottom was Jamie. He rushed to pull the little fellow out screaming and spewing water, crying, “I wanna go home.”

Instinctively the dad held Jamie close as he walked in the pool with himself shaking more than the child. He walked and talked reassuringly until finally, both were more calm. Soon little Jamie, reassured, began to splash around and play in the shallow water.

Jamie’s dad finally settled down but was about to drown in self-pity thinking no good dad lets his child nearly drown. Cousin Lee Ann walked by and said, “You are a terrific dad and I really admire the way you handled that. He will never be afraid of water again.”

Is your child drowning in a different kind of pool? Do you need to encourage your child?


To insure you know what you intend to do to achieve this write yourself a “Mission Statement.” What is your mission? Not having one would be like a CEO without a strategic plan. It will help set priorities and direct decisions.

GET INVOLVED. A statement isn’t enough. There must be a plan of action. If you make your family a priority you will make time for the family. Be attentive to their needs and observant of their emotions. Tune in.

EXPRESS AFFECTION. Released love registers on a child’s emotions. One young adult said, “As a child whenever I said, ‘I love you dad,’ he would always reply, ‘I love you ALL.’” I wanted him to say, “I love you,” and make it personal.

LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD. Pay attention to what is meant by what is said. If a child knows he or she is understood the conversation will continue. If not there is no need to talk.

One little child crawled up in his glassy eyed dad’s lap and said, “Dad, listen to me! You’re not inside your eyes.”

BE A ROLE MODEL. Father power is much more impressive if we change ourselves before we try to change our children.

I am going to make a harsh statement that will apply to some dads. I don’t know to which ones it applies but I know it applies to some. Dads, some of you are hard to love. Do you want to change that? You can by loving on a personal level.

EQUIP YOUR CHILDREN SPIRITUALLY. Establish the discipline of regular home Bible reading and prayer, and public worship. Be prepared to integrate these into teachable moments.

Doing these things can help you become a powered-up dad.

Gayle Erwin wrote his personal testimony of his dad in the book “The Jesus Style.” He tells of his dad’s airplane accident that left him paralyzed and brain damaged. His mom had to become the bread winner and wasn’t at home. Dad was at home but not functioning. The stage was set for family failure. They did not fail. Through good and bad times, they prayed together, shared love and were faithful to God. When their dad died Gayle and his two brothers stood by the casket and publicly make this commitment:

“Our father did not leave a financial empire for us to carry on. Many things that a dad normally does with his sons, ours was unable to do. He was unable to teach us many things that a dad normally teaches. But he did leave us something he had. He left us with a love of God, a love for the Bible, a love for people, and understanding of worship and an inability to hate. We feel that he has left us only those things that last. So we stand here before you as his sons to declare publically that we will follow his God.” What a legacy!


Admonish means to correct if necessary as well as to encourage if opportunity presents itself. Both are vital. To fail to do either is to fail to properly do the other.

What are the values in which you want your child to believe?

Will your children follow your God?