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Leading by Example-A Father of Faith

Let me begin this weeks blog by wishing all of the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. Now men understand, you will probably not get the recognition your wife received on Mother’s Day. It is important to remember that after all, they are moms and without them none of us would be here. So again, Happy Father’s Day, enjoy it while you can.

Sunday is your day and I hope for you one that will be a fond memory. Just to set the record straight today I will not be with our family. Actually, I am in Cody, WY with Elaine. If you follow me you know why we are here, but if not it is because we are celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary. We have traveled here with Yellowstone as our destination. We will begin the trip back home Monday morning.

God has blessed my life and I know it is because of Jesus and certainly nothing I have done. Well, actually, I did accept Jesus as my Savior, which is the one thing that we all must do but He did so much more. God made a way for me to be reconciled to Him even though I was and am a sinner.

When Elaine and I married that day in 1971 we knew and planned to have children. We did but we also had 2 miscarriages. We ended up with one of each. A beautiful and wonderful daughter in Lacey who with her amazing husband Bobby have given us a grandson Anthony and granddaughter Isabella. There is also a handsome and strong son Erik who with his unblieveably gifted wife Amanda have given us another granddaughter Emersyn. I am truly blessed of the Lord as I said earlier.

Being a father is something we learn on the go. Yes, there are books, but it is the actual practice each day that makes you a father. Some good days and some not so good. Decisions that seemed right at the time, but proved later to have required some additonal thought. We can’t change what we have done but we can use the experiences to adapt how we react in future situations.

Scripture tells us in Titus 2:7 that-

7 In all things show them how to live by your life and by right teaching. 

Fathers are to be leading by example as a father of faith. What does that mean? How can a father lead by example?

To be leading by example is to be a Christian.

James 4:8

8 Come close to God and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Clean up your hearts, you who want to follow the sinful ways of the world and God at the same time.

John 3:30

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Listen, if I had it to do over again as a father, there are things I would do and say differently. When we look back on our life, we are probably the most critical of ourselves. I know I made mistakes and at times was not the father I should have been or wanted to be. I was young and there was much I didn’t know or understand how to do or communicate. It does not mean I failed but it does mean I had to learn from experience. Remember that experience is the best teacher.

It was clear to my daughter and son that I was a Christian. They saw and heard me confess my God and Savior. As I learned more about Him, and worshipped Him. We did it as a family. Lacey made the decision as a child to accept Christ one evening on the carport. Riding her tricycle in circles as I was going over the gospel presentation I was learning. She was answering the questions I was asking. Then I realized what she was doing. I stopped and focused on her and she clearly accepted Christ that evening. Erik would later through going to church, VBS and other things make his decision to accept Christ as his Savior. So the first thing to be leading by example is to be a Christian.

To be leading by example is to be a Godly husband.

1 Peter 3:7

…husbands should understand and respect their wives,…

Ephesians 5:25-33

25 Husbands, love your wives. You must love them as Christ loved the church. He gave His life for it. 

26 Christ did this so He could set the church apart for Himself. He made it clean by the washing of water with the Word. 

27 Christ did this so the church might stand before Him in shining-greatness. There is to be no sin of any kind in it. It is to be holy and without blame. 

28 So men should love their wives as they love their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 

29 No man hates himself. He takes care of his own body. That is the way Christ does. He cares for His body which is the church. 

30 We are all a part of His body, the church. 

31 For this reason, a man must leave his father and mother when he gets married and be joined to his wife. The two become one. 

32 This is hard to understand, but it shows that the church is the body of Christ. 

33 So every man must love his wife as he loves himself. Every wife must respect her husband.

They saw their father from the beginning of their lives love their mother. I am certain there was never a doubt with Lacey or Erik that their father didn’t love them and their mother. We have always expressed our love in how we treat and act with one another and in what we say.

If you know me, you know how much I love Elaine. I tell her all the time and I will kiss her often as an expression of that love. The kids heard it and saw it everyday. They knew their Dad loved their Mom, no doubt.

They all so knew I loved them. I held them and I told them that I loved them. Even to this day if you were to hear me or them ending a conversation we will each acknowledge “I love you”.

It is also interesting to note that they are the same way with the spouses and their kids. It has been said that- …before we "step up," we need to take a step down and submit ourselves before God and our wives. So to be leading by example is to be a Christian and it is to be a Godly husband.

To be leading by example is to be a Godly father.

Ephesians 6:4 says-

4 Fathers, do not be too hard on your children so they will become angry. Teach them in their growing years with Christian teaching.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

6 Keep these words in your heart that I am telling you today. 

7 Do your best to teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.

So to be leading by example is to be a Christian and is to be a Godly husband and is to be a Godly father.

There is so much in being a father. You have the responsibility of caring for and protecting them. Being a father is a full time job and not one for the faint of heart. As Lacey and Erik were growing up, they needed, and I pray they got my full attention. I want them to know I tried, I really tried to be the best father in the world. I was limited in my abilities but God was and is gracious, and in spite of my shortcomings, I think I did a good job. I mean to my knowledge neither one robbed a bank. Now that doesn’t mean they didn’t try or do some things I would have preferred they not do. Yet, we all have been there and done that haven’t we?

To be leading by example is to be a Godly encourager.

James 1:19b-20

19b…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 

20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 4:29

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

As you get this one, we all have to admit this is probably our achilles heal. The encourager part is actually easy. It is the example and actions part that get us in trouble.

I have always been an encourager, it is one of my top 3 spiritual gifts. So encouraging our kids was something that comes naturally. The example and actions part, not so much. Listen, I know I made some bad decisions. I said and did the wrong things on more than one occasion. Do I regret it? Absolutely, and if I could do it over again I would try desperately to do or say the right thing.

Now this is where, for a father it can get to be very difficult. Did something I did or say cause my child to make the wrong or less desired decision? Did it cause them to say things that were hurtful or again wrong? We can certainly hope not but we will never know.

That is why this is so hard. We are dealing with life and all of the things that are a part of that life. The relationships, the decisions, the actions of what goes on daily.

We often will say “if I had it to do over again, I would...”. Now that statement is based upon knowing what we know now but we didn’t know that then. Is history a great teacher? Yes and it is from our past that we learn what to do now.

As I have gotten older I have changed in many ways. Elaine notices it and points it out to me on occasion. There are simply things that I used to do or say that I just don’t any more. There are things, that as important as they were earlier in my life, simply are of little to no interest to me.

However, I know this for sure, if I had it to do over again, based on what I know now I would be a better father and husband. We all know I can’t and neither can you. So we have to be the best we can be and pray for His grace to do and say the right things.

So to be leading by example is to be a Christian, a Godly husband, a Godly father and a Godly encourager. Seems like an awful lot of responsibility, does‘t it? It is but you can do it. Happy Father’s Day.

A thought to ponder,

Elbert Nasworthy

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