SCRIPTURE: 2 Chronicles 29:1-2, NLT
If you do a study of the kings, you will notices something rather strange. There are no good kings back to back with one exception–Asa was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat and that is as close as we come to having two good kings in a row. Even more amazing: Hezekiah and Josiah, the best two morally [David was the greatest but not necessarily the best] had evil fathers. Actually the best two had the worse two fathers. Hezekiah’s father was Ahaz, a vile man who was dedicated to the worship of Baal. He had his sons and daughters sacrificed the Molech and eventually closed the door of the Temple, outlawing Yahweh worship.
Josiah succeeded his father Amon who was so bad that he was assassinated by his own cabinet after serving less than two years. So you could say, Josiah followed his grand father Manasseh who has always held the distinction as being the worse of all of Judah kings. Manasseh was a cruel man, prone to violence and he filled the streets of Jerusalem with the blood of the innocent. He had the prophet Isaiah sawn into: put him in a hollow log and then sawed him into.
So the question I pose this morning is: How did these two good kings come from such sorry father’s. It doesn’t make sense until you study the habits of ancient Eastern kings.
- First of all, these kings had harems. They did not have one wife, they had wives. King David had 8 listed in scripture but everyone believes there were more. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son had 18 wives and 60 concubines. Rehoboam’s son Abijah had fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. If my math is right, that is 38 children. Fathers, it stands to reason, if you have 38 children, you are not going to be able to spend a lot of time with each individually.
- The mother and the children lived in a separate dwelling. The children we either in the harem or in school until of course they were grown.
- So, the mothers had more time with the children than the fathers. Why did two of the sorriest kings produce two of the best? The answer is, they had good mothers and the fathers spent so little time with their sons, the mother’s influence was dominant. For example: Abijah, Hezekiah’s mom was the daughter of a priest and no doubt, she is the one who instilled Yahweh faith in Hezekiah.
I know what you are thinking…“Here he goes again, lambasting fathers on father’s day.” Guys, I am going to ask you to do me a favor, bear with me, hear me out before you jump to conclusions. My purpose today is not to demean the roll of the father but to show you how important it is for men to be good fathers. Judah had five good kings and the best two were probably raised godly mothers but how many good kings would Judah have had if the good kings had mentored their sons? You think about that question for a moment. How many good kings would we have if the good ones had spent time with their sons and mentored them? It would be more than two. So my point today is…women are great at raising children but how much better would it be if we men did our part.
So Fathers, in a few brief moments, I want to challenge you and encourage you.
I. FATHERS, YOU ARE NOT JUST IMPORTANT, YOU ARE VITAL
Let me share with you some facts about the fatherless…
- About 40 percent of children in the western world will go to sleep in homes tonight in which their fathers do not live.
- Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers.
- Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers.
- Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation.
There are two kinds of absent fathers:  Those who are absent physically  Those who are present but emotionally unavailable.
I don’t know how credible these statistics are but they are worth mentioning…Children with absent fathers are…
- Five times more likely to commit suicide
- They have higher rates of depression and anxiety.
- They are thirty-two times more likely to be incarcerated
- Five times more likely to drop out of school
- More likely to encounter relationship problems themselves
- Substance abuse is substantially more likely
- Behavioural problems more likely
Men, the women can give the children nurture but you and I, the father’s give them their identity. You recognize me today as a Bailey. My mother gave me birth but my father gave me my identity and that is an important piece of the puzzle. I’ve always known who I was, I am Eugene Bailey’s Son, I am Joe David Bailey’s grandson and Joe Bailey’s great-grandson. I am a Bailey.
Look, I am not a child pschologist nor the son of one, but I know that a child’s identity is very important to them. Every child wants to know who their father is and every child wants to know their father.
ALL I AM SAYING IS: FATHER’S YOU ARE IMPORTANT
II. FATHERS, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT BUT YOU NEED TO BE PRESENT
If you followed the last presidential election, you heard the name Ben Carson. Ben grew up in the inner city of Detroit. His fathers abandoned, he, his brother and mother when he was 8 years old. During the campaign, Ben talks a lot about his mom but he never mentions his father. My question is WHY? I would suppose that the main reason Carson didn’t mention his father was because he didn’t really know him. He left them when Ben was eight years old. Basically, Ben grew up without a father. There is no doubt that he suffered due to the absence of his father.
Ben Carson had an absent father, Ronald Wilson Reagan has an emotionally unavailable father. His father was a drunk who couldn’t keep a job. He wasn’t absent physically but he was emotionally. I don’t know which is worse, the absent father or the emotionally unavailable father.
Men we are the PROVIDERS, PROTECTOR and the PRIEST of the home. The one thing that is required in all three is time. We do pretty good at providing but there is more to it than providing. We are also the Priest, the spiritual leader, the intercessor, the instructor. I always found my responsibilities to nurture my children spiritually was the most difficult part of being a father and I didn’t do a very good job.
I have two primary goals for all my children and grandchildren: To love Jesus with all their heart and to love their neighbor as they love themselves. They don’t have to make a lot of money to please me; they don’t have to win any awards. They don’t have to be the best at anything. My hearts desire and prayer to God is that they love Jesus.
I will not lie, my goals have changed over the years. I one time, I dreamed of my son being a professional athlete and I admit that I was disappointed when he decided not to play college basketball. Sad to say, I was even disappointed when he told me the LORD was calling him to preach. But I was wrong on both counts and there is nothing he can do to make me prouder than his love for Jesus.
You have heard me tell the story about the young seminary graduate that had a sermon intitled “Ten Ways To Raise Children.” Then he had children and before they all got in school, he changed his sermon to “Ten Suggestions For Raising Children.” And then his children became teenagers and he changed the sermon again, “Ten Things Not To Do Raising Children.“
Fatherhood is much harder than it looks but here are some suggestions:
- Pray for your children. You are their priest and they need your prayers.
- Build relationships. The fact that you are biologically linked doesn’t insure a relationship. You build a relationship by spending time with your children and you start when they are young. If you wait till they get to be teenagers, you are in trouble. Relationship building takes time and energy.
- Repair fractured relationships. Fathers: you are the one to initiate reconciliation for broken relationships. For Pete’s sake, don’t blame your children. You are the father. Take responsibility and work for a fix.
- Don’t act like a tough guy all the time. Be real, be gentle and convey your love verbally. Don’t give me that “My kids know I love them.” Are you sure they know. How many times have you told them. A dozen times, twice, once, never. I don’t care how well you provide or how much you give your children, they will doubt your love if you don’t reassure them. There may come a time when they will figure it out for themselves but you will probably been gone by the time they do.
- Be an Example: if you want them to be good to their mother, then you be good to their mother. If you want them to love Jesus, then you love Jesus. If you want them to put Christ’s Kingdom first, then you put it first.