The late Dwight L. Moody told the story of a man whose small son was dying of an incurable illness. He held his father's hand, who asked him, "Son, you are not afraid of death, are you?" The son replied, "I hate to leave you, but when I die I will go to heaven where Jesus lives." "Yes, my son," said the heartbroken father. The glazing eyes of the dying child sparkled as he gripped the hand he was holding, and with his last breath murmured, "When I get to heaven, the first thing I will do will be to walk right up to Jesus, and tell him, 'I had the best daddy that ever lived.'"
A great father sets a godly example before his children. This provides a solid foundation for the child to emulate in his own life. He loves them with all his heart and shows it by spending time with them. He listens to them when they are young so they will talk to him when they are older. He establishes some reasonable and clearly defined guidelines and limitations so they will learn to respect all authority. Just as a mother bird pushes the young fledgling out of the nest that he may learn to fly, so a wise parent will prepare his child for the time in his life when he must stand on his own. It hurts to see our children experience the bumps and knocks of life without interfering, but it has to be done. It is necessary for their maturation. The ultimate goal of parents is to work themselves out of a job.
Perhaps the greatest and most difficult responsibility of fathers is that of leading their children. To the child, a parent is the greatest person in the world, and he will follow the parent in whatever direction he is led. A six-year-old child took a pair of scissors and cut off the hair on top of his head because he wanted a bald spot like his Daddy's. He was later disappointed when his hair grew back and his Daddy's didn't. Our children are wanting to follow our steps. Where are we leading them?