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FIRST-PERSON: The calling of fatherhood


My adult life has been committed to teaching and cultivating the lives of people, formerly as a college football coach and collegiate sports chaplain to now as a pastor and college professor. I have joyfully dedicated my life to investing in others, especially in the discipleship of their faith in Christ.

While teaching is my life’s passion and calling, one of my greatest joys in my life besides being a husband is being the father of two sons. As a father, I am in a transition season with one son in college and the other approaching his senior year in high school. As I reflect on my years as a father, I find myself pondering how my role has changed yet remaining the same through their and my ever-changing seasons of life. Through it all, I see fatherhood as a vocation and a lifelong calling and gift that God gives to and for our children. While the seasons of life and the manner in which we parent change, the vocation of fatherhood does not.

Scripture has a lot to say about fatherhood and the roles and responsibilities of a father because fatherhood, rightly lived out, should embody the love of God the Father. Fathers are called to encourage, comfort, and implore their children to live rightly before the Lord (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). This lifelong process charges fathers with the responsibility not only to capture the hearts of their children but also to cultivate them.

I have learned that as my sons become older, reflected in our conversations that demonstrate mutual growth and maturity, my duty to shape their hearts towards the Lord becomes even more important as they enter into manhood. The world tries to catechize them with their definition of what the good life is and what it means to live according to “their truth,” but in reality, the world is working to take their affections away from the Lord.

Every father needs to understand that if our children are a gift from God – and they are, based on Psalm 127:3 – then we have a responsibility to teach them that their authentic selves can only be found in Christ. When we understand that to be our responsibility, then how we model Christ to our children will either draw them to or repel them from the Lord. It starts when they are born and it will continue the rest of our lives.

Capturing the hearts of our children is a two-part work according to Ephesians 6:4 – we are to “not stir up anger in our children” and to “bring them up in training and instruction in the Lord.” In other words, fathers should both nurture and admonish our children. Nurturing is cultivating, encouraging, comforting, training, and instructing our children. It is the positive activity of raising our children in Christ.

However, the second part is just as important, which is admonishing them in the Lord. The term admonishing doesn’t always have positive connotations, but as a former coach, it is important because this is where discipline and correction is instilled for their good. As fathers, we have to correct our children when correction is necessary. But it is important to remember that our motivation for nurturing and admonishing our children is love. Our children will accept our correction when they know it comes from a heart of love.

One of the guiding principles for the Christian is the Great Commandment (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:29–31; Luke 10:27). Our role as fathers is not only to live out a love of God and love of neighbor, but also to teach it to our children.

We need to remember that how we parent says a lot about how we relate to God as our heavenly Father, and how we think about our closest neighbors – our family. Our children know the real us and if we will display the love, affection, strength, thoughtfulness, courage and humility that we want to see in our children.

The responsibility of being a father is great, but so is the reward. Fatherhood is a great calling, and as we contemplate the gravity of this responsibility, we should also have fun and find joy in it. The days may be long, but the years are short, and our kids grow up before our eyes and prayerfully we will grow old before theirs. Treasure every moment of it and enjoy the calling, work and gift of fatherhood. Because fatherhood matters for the glory of God and the good of our families and society.

RaShan Frost is the lead pastor of The Bridge Church in North Charleston, S.C., an adjunct professor of Christian Studies at Charleston Southern University and an Ethics & Religious Liberty senior fellow with a focus on human dignity.

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  • RaShan A. Frost