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Father’s example has big impact

September 1, 2008

by Rev. Steve Olson, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Dassel

Some time back, a book came out with the title “I Speak to You Fathers.”

Speaking an uncomfortable truth in love, the author reported on a study, which stated that although women generally play the strongest role in the Christian education of our children, the father’s example had the strongest impact on their children’s adult life of faith.

When fathers were active in their own life of faith, their children tended to share the faith. When fathers were inactive in their faith life and stayed home from church, their children also were much more likely to drift away from the faith as adults.

Of course, it is not surprising to hear that our actions and example speak louder than our words. Yet, it was surprising for me to learn just how powerful a father’s example is when it comes to the faith life of their child.

This is why we cannot leave it to women, alone, to care for the faith life of our children. This is why fathers cannot assume it is good enough to leave their child’s religious education to mother or to a stranger. All the good that Sunday school or mother does can easily be undercut by the father’s example.

For this reason, I speak to you fathers: do not underestimate the importance of your example.

If we truly want to raise our children in the faith, if we want to be true to promises we, as fathers, made when our children were baptized or dedicated, we all need to get back in the game. We need to be with them in church. We need to be just as involved in their faith life as we are in their sports.

For some of us, that will mean being coaches serving as Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, and mentors. For others that will mean cheering our kids on at their big events like Youth Activities group, concerts, and Christmas programs.

This, of course, depends on our gifts, but the one thing we can all do is join the kids at worship each week. That one example can make all the difference in the world.

So, I speak to you fathers, remember the words of the proverb: “Raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)