FATHER'S LEGACY-FIVE VIRTUES TO PASS-ON TO YOUR CHILDREN THAT DEFINE A TRUE FATHER
On Sunday, June 16, 2013, millions of children, families and friends will celebrate Father’s Day. Father’s Day was established in the later part of 19th century to complement Mother’s Day, which began in 1830’s. Both events were designed to celebrate, cherish and honor parenting, which is a divine duty and mandate according to the biblical writings of Moses in Exodus 20:12, which states, “Honor your father ad your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”
Even though Father’s Day is a secular holiday today, the first modern Father’s Day was celebrated as a church service at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, Fairmont, West Virginia on July 1908. Since then both of these events are celebrated around the world in a variety of dates and ways.
And so, this coming Sunday, fathers will be celebrated around the U.S and most of the globe. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day celebrations are huge commercial sales period. Although Father’s Day celebration is not as noisy and popular as Mother’s Day celebration, yet notwithstanding, the malls, stores and shops across the nation are already inundated with electronic gadgets, sleek handsets, designer sport wears, cars, books, and special gateways targeted for father’s day gift. Many families are absolutely going crazy in their shopping spree to find that perfect gift for the dads.
However, the fundamental questions that occupies my mind during this period is whether Father’s Day celebration is supposed to be a time for eating, drinking and receiving this perfect gift, rather than a time to reflect, take a diagnostic assessment of today’s culture—the children, the home, family, society at large, and to ask some pertinent questions about fatherhood, such as: how has fathers performed in the home this year? What is fatherhood and what does it really mean to be a father? Who’s a father? What is the purpose of fathers? What are the duties of fathers in the home? What are the roles of the fathers in the family and society? How can fathers fulfill their call as the headship in the home, as leaders, mentors and motivators in the society? Do fathers understand their influence and leadership in the home? How can modern day fathers exercise influence and leadership in the home? Do husbands truly understand the true purpose of fatherhood? What is the greatest duty of fathers and how they can achieve it? When it is all said and done, what is the greatest legacy that a father can leave behind—for his family and society?
These and more, are some of the questions that occupy my mind as I think about the violence in the family and chaos in our society, and the liberal propagandistic agenda to destroy the family unit as we know it. I wonder whether today’s dads fully comprehend the divine obligations of fatherhood. Do fathers of this modern age understand the true purposes of fatherhood? Are today’s fathers courageously passing the touch of manhood and fatherhood to their children? Are we teaching our children godly wisdom, positively influencing and shaping their behavior and character in order to prepare them for a tough life and leadership in this corrupt, crazy and conspiratorial world? What type of leadership legacy are we passing on to our offspring?
If truth may be told, many of you will agree with me that our planet earth is in desperate need of courageous fathers and compassionate leaders. Our world and generation need fathers whose lives inspire and motivate young people to pursue their dreams and reach their potential. The men and husbands whose lives, vision, thinking, writing, actions, works, and leadership do inspire and empower millions to positive change, make significant impact and contribute immensely to world peace and prosperity.
Today’s generation lacks such fathers. What we have today are confused fathers and weak leaders. For Africa, it is even worse. Most of what we have in Africa today are visionless and incapable husbands and fathers as leaders. A cursory look at the continent reveals shocking atrocities of religious militancy and tribal conflict, moral decadence, political instability, corrupt rulers, violence, poverty, disease, and death. From Senegal to Sierra Leone, Nigeria to Sudan, Eritrea to Ethiopia, Uganda to Somalia, Tanzania to Congo, Mozambique and others, all you see is corrupt rulers, religious ignorance, militancy, conflict and wars.
Our generation has become a culture of impunity, callousness, selfishness, greed, monumental corruption, violence, disease, and death. Today, Africa and its people are global embarrassment and disgrace to mankind because of lack of true fathers and compassionate leaders. And yet, the truth is that Africa still remains the untapped and richest continent on planet with its vast natural and talented human resources. The African continent is desperately in need of economic revival and political emancipation by true men, husbands and fathers.
I blame African men, husbands and fathers for this total chaos and decadence in Africa. The reason we have corrupt rulers and wars in Africa is because fathers have not fathered their sons properly.
Before the coming of colonial masters, fatherhood in Africa was an honor and a cherished title. African fathers taught their children character, courage, integrity, honest, love and fear of God. Today they have relegated those divine duties and responsibilities for selfish and vain pursuits. Today, our children are raising themselves in front of a television set, or by their peers, or western culture and influence, while the dad is busy chasing wealth, position, power and illicit sex. No wonder, what we have nowadays are weak, corrupt and visionless rulers parading themselves as leaders in a rich and blessed African continent; men and women who are not patriotic, lacking self esteem and pride in the continent of their birth. These ugly trends and satanic influences in the continent of Africa can never be corrected if today’s fathers ignore and neglect to teach their children godly wisdom and shape their behavior and character in a positive manner.
These children will be leaders of tomorrow and if they are not properly and positively influenced in the virtues of life and morality, the future of Africa is doomed for generations to come. Fathers must understand that fathering is a divine duty and the greatest responsibility of man. The greatest legacy any father can leave behind is to teach his children to live right and do the right thing—in nutshell a passion and love for the Word of God.
Here are five things, I believe fathers of today can begin now to teach their children in order to prepare them to reclaim redeem, restore and emancipate Africa and her people from economic slavery, social decadence, religious violence, corruption and political instability. If they can inculcate these foundational virtues into their children, Africa will rise up again and stand strong among the comity of nations in less than no time. I am very hopeful and optimistic that our children are the ones who will have the courage to say enough is enough, let us reclaim our father-land from these myopic and visionless rulers that have decimated millions of innocent lives, wasted enormous natural and human potential and rubbished the continent of Africa.
1. Teach your children how to seek divine wisdom
The first thing fathers—especially African fathers can begin now to do in order to prepare their young ones for leadership is to teach them godly wisdom. One of the treasured gifts a child can receive from his or her father is godly wisdom. Young people will face challenges and enticement to sin in their early life. They will face peer pressure from their friends. And most of them will succumb to sinful pleasures in order to belong to their social group. However, if fathers will take the time to teach their children the Word of God and help them to develop close relationship with their creator, they will develop the capacity to resist such temptations when it comes knowing that compromise with evil and sinful pleasures will lead to heartache, distress, calamity, destruction and death.
King Solomon wrote these words about seven thousand years ago, “wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). Wisdom is one of the most important treasures of life. It is the spiritual capacity to see, evaluate and conduct life from God’s point of view. Godly wisdom involves making right choices and doing what is right according to God’s will and ways by the leading of the Holy Spirit. “Wisdom is more precious than rubies and nothing you desire can compare with her and how much to get wisdom than gold: to choose understanding rather silver” (Proverbs 8:11).
King Solomon did not only spend time writing about the wisdom that God gave to him, he taught his children to embrace wisdom, warned them against rejecting wisdom, against enticement to sin, against adultery, against folly, riches, possessions and material things. King Solomon warned all of us against those things that God detest such as pride, lying tongues, haughty eyes, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that is quick to rush into evil false witness and a man who stirs dissension among brothers. King Solomon wrote that riches, possessions and materials things are all vanity. And he encouraged his children to embrace wisdom, stating the moral, economic and political benefits of wisdom such as peace, favor, wealth, happiness, justice, power, safety, protection, blessing, and prosperity.
Apart from prayer, wisdom is the most treasured ingredient of leadership. No father can be a great leader and mentor or lead his family effectively and efficiently without godly wisdom and teaching his children divine wisdom. Godly wisdom is the ability and capacity to live and lead wisely, morally, courageously and compassionately. And that is what the young people need more than anything else from their dads, not even money or material possessions. Fathers must teach their children to treasure wisdom far more than silver, gold and precious jewels. They must also teach godly wisdom to their children.
2. Teach your children godly character
The second thing fathers can teach their children is godly character. The Bible teaches that a good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1). Character equates to good name, credibility and reputation. Character is one of the special attributes of having a great life and successful leadership. No one can be great without a consistent genuine and credible character. Those aspiring to become great fathers and leaders must have Christ-like mind and exhibit godly character. They must endeavor to control their behavior and weaknesses through dependence upon the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches the qualities that constitute godly character are faith, goodness, knowledge self-control, perseverance, goodliness, brotherly kindness and love (Galatians 5:22). These godly virtues are lacking in people today and especially in fathers as leaders and mentors. Today’s fathers must do a better job to teach their children these essential virtues, which constitute godly character.
Godly character is also very important to the life of a father. A husband may have impressive skills, talents, and personality but without character. Godly character is not developed overnight. Teaching and building godly character takes time and requires a teachable spirit and mindset. It involves acquisition of godly wisdom, which I talked above. Deuteronomy 5:23-33 and Proverbs 2:1-11, teach us the discipline for developing godly character as well as the rewards of such discipline.
I encourage fathers of this generation to reflect on those qualities for teaching and developing godly character. God expects us as fathers to cultivate the virtues of godly character and teach them to our children. As we learn and cultivate these virtues, God will fill our minds and hearts with wisdom; our character will become solid and our children will delight and honor in us. When we build godly character, we partake in the divine nature of God as our ultimate heavenly and vain things such as stealing, selfishness, corruption, envy, bitterness, and greed etc. will become ineffective and unproductive in our lives. Without this quality of character and positive attitude, there cannot be true fathers and effective leaders.
3. Teach your children true integrity
The third virtue that fathers can impress upon their children is integrity. The Bible teaches that the integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity (Proverbs 11:3). Integrity is doing what you promised you would do. Integrity can be good or bad. Godly integrity is true ethical behavior, genuine morality and consistent honesty. Godly Integrity is one of the greatest characteristics of wise and godly leadership. Genuine fathers and leaders must cultivate godly integrity. Integrity means honesty, trust, good morals, sound ethical values and courageous character. Integrity and honesty are the most valued and admired traits of fathers and leaders. Our children and people generally value honesty and integrity more than anything else. Millions will follow a man and a leader who has godly integrity and can be trusted. Fathers will save our land and culture by teaching their children the value of integrity and honesty. Today, these virtues are lacking abundantly in our society.
4. Teach your children how to serve selflessly
The fourth skill fathers can teach their children is service—selfless service. Jesus Christ, the greatest teacher and leader who ever lived said these words to His disciples, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Leadership is about service and service is the essence of life. There cannot be successful leadership without service and stewardship. Today’s leaders want to be served rather than serve. Either they were not taught that to lead is to serve or they just ignore the most essential task of a leader.
However, there cannot be selfless service without patriotism. Service is driven by patriotism and patriotism is driven by well-defined set of core values that shape the lives and especially those who are called to lead. Core values are constant and passionate beliefs that drive people lives, business decisions or nation's priorities. Core values determine and shape daily actions of people, business or government leaders. They are hidden motivations that dictate every decision and determine life's priorities. Without core values or code of conduct, people, families, businesses and even nations will have a broken focus? Dr. Mike Murdock, one of the great wisdom teachers of our contemporary time always says, "The passion of our daily routine is the hidden secret for our success, people fail because of broken focus." Daily routines are core values or value systems that drive and determine life's success. Daily routines determine and shape our daily actions.
The same is true of a nation. Today, our nation’s value system is dominated by lust for power, sex and material possessions. Our leaders cruelly destroyed the moral value system of integrity, character, honesty and patriotism. Core values ask the question, why do I do what I do? Developing national core values and the passion for why we do what we do will be the secret to our nations success. Well-defined strong national core values will not only contribute to our nation's success but also will also inspire people to reach their fullest potential, embrace good change, communicate what is important and enhance credible leadership. Without a strong national value system no individual, business enterprise or even nations will be very successful. There has to be patriotic values and passionate actions that determine and drive our nation's priorities. And our children must be taught the power and rewards of patriotism and selfless service to the nation of their birth.
5. Teach your children how to communicate with their creator
The last virtue and certainly not the least thing fathers must teach their children in order to prepare them for great life and leadership is prayer. In fact without prayer, none of the four virtues mentioned above will work. Prayer is the greatest ingredient of purposeful life and leadership. Prayer is a divine communication with your creator. It is the first act and true mark of a wise and fatherly leadership. Prayer must be the first priority of any father and leader who wants to achieve greatness. It is the key to successful fatherhood and leadership. Without persistent and passionate prayer life, no father can lead and mentor his children effectively.
For instance, Jesus, who is the model leader, did not do anything while on planet earth without praying to the heavenly father. While on earth, Jesus often looked for time to be alone with God in prayer especially during times of critical decision making (Luke 5:16). And His time alone with God produced tremendous results. Jesus had a lifestyle of prayer. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Jesus taught and talked about prayer and meditation on the Word of God as the only essential ingredients for spiritual life of man on planet earth.
Time alone with God is essential to the spiritual well being of everyone who aspires to lead. Prayer is the key to effective living and leadership. It is a necessary ingredient for tough times and difficult challenges that we will face in life. These times of prayer will strengthen and sustain us—perhaps more than any other help and assistance we may receive from our families and friends. A lifestyle of prayer prepares us to teach and lead others through difficult times and challenges in their own life.
As fathers and leaders, we must make prayer the first act and true mark of our lives. Prayer is the key to dynamic faith, strength, power, success, victory, great life and successful leadership. It is a noble act and a divine habit that must be cultivated in our lives. Cultivating the lifestyle of fervent prayer and teaching your children the act of divine communication with the heavenly Father will prepare them for a great life and courageous leadership.
The late William R. Bright, founder of the Campus Crusade for Christ said this on winning the Nobel Prize for Religion, “I believe that biblical prayer is the most enriching and energizing of all the Christian discipline and can accomplish more for the Glory of God and ensure blessing upon the people of the earth more than anything else we can do.”
Jesus, Moses, Daniel, Joseph, the apostle Peter, James, John, Paul and many great modern leaders achieved greatness because of their fervent and persistent prayer lifestyle.
In conclusion, I challenge all of us as fathers and who care for our country, Nigeria, and Africa, and the world to cultivate this lifestyle of prayer and make effort to teach it to our kids. When our children learn and master the act of communicating with their creator, the blessings of heaven will pour down upon our beloved land, Nigeria and continent of Africa. Let us also teach our young people how to lead with integrity and character; how to lead with honesty; how to selflessly serve and how to lead with vision that is embraced by all; with a focus on a mission that will provide a sense of momentum, rekindle the passion, and patriotism that will inspire all Africans to make impossibilities possible again, to establish the structure and implement the strategies that will shape the continent’s future and create leadership reservoir.
Mostly importantly I encourage you fathers to teach your children moral values irrespective of religious beliefs that will shape their daily routines, drive their lives, dictate every decision and determine their life's priorities. In so doing, we will create peaceful environment for good change with great opportunities for all Africans to live peacefully and responsibly in order to fulfill the potential that God has deposited inside each and every one of us. If we fail to teach our children these basic essential virtues, we have failed as fathers, our honor and dignity as fathers will be rubbish before humanity and the almighty God, our ultimate heavenly Father.
I wish all fathers, happy Father’s Day and heavenly Father’s best.
Note. The content of this essay was taken from my past writings on Fatherly Leadership and from my forth-coming book: Leadership Prayers—Daily Inspiration and Devotion for Leaders, to be published by Westbow Press, a Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, later this year. Copyright © 2013 All Rights Reserved. Leadership Wisdom Institute.
Written by C. K. Ekeke, Ph.D.