John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and America’s second President, was the father of six children. During the War for Independence he spent much time in public service and away from his family. Not wanting to neglect his children, he and Abigail Adams wrote letters to each other about how the children’s education should proceed, including these suggestions:
“The education of our children is never out of my mind. Train them to virtue. Habituate them to industry [hard work], activity, and spirit [endurance]. Make them consider every vice as shameful and unmanly. Fire them with ambition to be useful. Make them disdain to be destitute of any useful or ornamental knowledge or accomplishment. Fix their ambition upon great and solid objects, and their contempt upon little, frivolous, and useless ones. (August 1774)
It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to a excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep in infancy, they will grovel all their lives.”(October 1775)
John Quincy Adams grew up under this instruction. He became our nation’s sixth President, and was the father of four children. In his many years of public service, he would often spend extended periods away from his family. Wanting to encourage and advise his children during these times, especially on growing strong spiritually, he wrote a series of letters giving his son advice on how to read and study the Bible. (Get the ebook of these letters from WallBuilders.) In one of these letters, he said:
“I advise you, my son, in whatever you read, and most of all in reading the Bible, to remember that it is for the purpose of making you wiser and more virtuous. I have myself, for many years, made it a practice to read through the Bible once every year. I have always endeavored to read it with the same spirit and temper of mind, which I now recommend to you: that is, with the intention and desire that it may contribute to my advancement in wisdom and virtue.” —from Wallbuilders
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Eph. 6:4
“…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:15-17
We learn a lot from our fathers, even when (and if) we don’t think so. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have a father who cared for us and loved us are blessed. Sometimes there is an uncle or a grandfather or a friend who stood in the gap of a missing dad, and for those people we are thankful.
We have a Heavenly Father who has promised to never leave us or forsake us, but he won’t force Himself into our life. Yet as soon as we ask Him, He will be there.
Fathers Day can be tough for some people; this year it’s particularly tough for me. I have a prodigal son. (Luke 15) But I cling to the Hope that God will continue His work in me and in my children, leading, guiding, caring, protecting, encouraging as a Father does, in ways only He can. Where I fail as a father, God does not.
Galatians chapter 4 says Jesus came “5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship [to become His child]. 6 Because you are his [children], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave [to sin], but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!