Where Have All the Fathers Gone?

Matthew 4:19

This Father’s Day gives us an opportunity to speak specifically to the men and to the men and to the dads about what it means to live a legacy. So many talk about leaving a legacy, but I believe the emphasis of Scripture is living a legacy.

And if we’re going to pass our faith along, we must first possess our faith. And that’s what I want to talk to the dads, and all of us about this morning.

If you will turn with me in your Bibles to the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. 

“Where Have All the Fathers Gone?”

Now we know that there’s a problem in America, and the problem is absentee fathers. And we have to ask the question: Where are godly fathers today? Some studies indicate that the average dad in this country spends 8 minutes a day with his children. Guys, that’s just not enough. Our children are looking to us as godly men, as Christian men to set the example and to show the way to follow Christ.

Now this is a day in which we honor our dads and it’s good to honor dads, because so many dads and men really don’t know how to act. When it comes to being a father and being a friend to their family. One author wrote the following:

It’s Different for Fathers than for Mothers

Motherhood is honest and close to the surface. They don’t have to hide what they feel and they don’t have to pretend. And when a sound happens in the middle of the night downstairs, a mother is allowed to pull the covers over her head and hope it will go away. But a father is suppose to put on a robe and slippers and march boldly downstairs, even if he’s pretty sure it’s a leftover member of the Manson family waiting in the kitchen.

When road signs are confusing and scenery looks a little bit unfamiliar, it is natural for a mother to pull over and ask directions of the first person who comes alone. But a father is supposed to know exactly where he is going even if he has to drive 200 miles out of the way to prove it!

When the electricity goes off or a faucet leaks, no one expects more of a mother than to light a few candles and pick up a phone and wait on the repairman. But a father is expected to pick up a screwdriver, proceed to the basement and try to fix it even if he doesn’t know the difference between a fuse box and a sump pump.

Mothers can load a broken bicycle into a car and bring it home, but fathers are supposed to fix it on the side of the road and ride it home.

Mothers are allowed to go to a football game and cover their eyes, worried that their kid will be dragged out from the pile of players with arms broken in several places. Father’s however, are to pace the sidelines and shout, “Let’s hit somebody out there!” Never allowing anyone to know he holds his breath every time his kid is under that pile.

Mothers can admit to the real estate agent that they don’t know a thing about variable interest rates, second mortgages and balloon payments but father’s are suppose to nod their heads and pretend it makes all perfect sense. Mothers can bang a new jar of peanut butter on the counter until it’s loose enough to open, but a father is suppose to twist it off with his bare hands without getting red in the face.

Mothers who lose their jobs are unfortunate but fathers who lose theirs are failures. And when a mother gets hurt, she may want to swear but is only allowed to cry, but fathers may want to cry but only swear.


We’re told today that what we need to do is to lead. Leadership is at a premium; we know that. And we’ve been called upon as men to lead, to lead our families, to lead in the community, to lead in our churches. And I’m speaking to many future leaders here as I speak to young men and women who are willing to take the responsibility of leadership, the stewardship of leadership.

Some well-worn axioms on leadership I could remind you this morning: “Everything rises and falls with leadership.” Or this one, “A leader is someone who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way.” Or this one, “The way to get to the top is to get off your bottom.” That’s a good one. Or how about this one? “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

We’ve all heard these. We’re all challenged to lead. And much is being said about the dad being the leader of the home and setting the post, and I agree; but in today’s message I want to take a different point of view.

I want to talk about fathers who follow. Specifically, fathers who follow Jesus Christ. Because no matter where all the fathers have gone, I challenge you today to get in line in following Jesus Christ as His servant. And if you’re a follower of Christ, I believe you’ll be the right kind of leader in your home, in your family, with your kids, and in the community and church.

Jesus said in Matthew chapter 4 and verse 19:

Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.

Now what does that mean when we say follow Jesus Christ? When Jesus says, “Come after Me and follow after Me” what exactly does that mean?

Well, first of all, it means a change in your direction. It is a call, a challenge to change your direction in life. Not to go your own way, and choosing your own path, but rather now to come under the Lordship of Christ, to follow Him.

You know men have a great deal of trouble following directions. We’re just challenged in that way, especially when it comes to taking directions from our wives. Amen? Or oh me? I mean, I’ve determined in the past to go down the road in the direction that I have chosen when Deb has said, “No, it’s not this way, it’s the other way.” When I choose to go my way, sometimes she’ll just let me have it. Even fall asleep. And I find myself out of bounds, way out there somewhere, just praying to God that she won’t wake up until I can get this thing turned around and going in the right directions! We have trouble taking orders.

But there’s a principle in life, if you want to be over you must to be under! And it starts with being under the authority and the lordship of Jesus Christ. It begins with changed hearts and changed lives.

Now the question is, can a man, can a person really change? Some are saying no. The June 5th issue of Time Magazine featured an article entitled “A Changed Man?” and then answers, “No such animal.” And here’s the subtitle of this article in Time: “Evolution has made men who they are. Mid-life crisis don’t really transform them.” And then the author of this particular article a man by the name of Mark Laner, makes this statement and makes clear his opinion.

I don’t believe in epiphanies, personal growth, and mid-life crisis or deathbed conversions. Millions of years of Darwinian evolution has led to who I am, in addition to everything my parents did to mold me.

Laner is sure that people can’t really change their life. And he’s especially adamant about men. He says,

The typical man usually around adolescence invents a persona for himself. He establishes a personal brand identity and then struggles to maintain it with mind-numbing intransigence amid the fluctuations of the world around him.

Well, that’s a warm, happy Father’s day thought, isn’t it? But we’re just the product, the result of evolution, Darwinian evolution. And who we are, we are by nature; perhaps somewhat by nurture, environment and circumstance. But do you hear what he’s saying? “We can’t really change.”

Well, I’m going to listen to Jesus. Jesus said, “Men, women, you can change if you will allow Me to change your life.” What we are by nature can be transformed by the saving grace and power of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to be stuck in the past. You don’t have to be stuck in a lifestyle that doesn’t please God. But rather, if you will follow Christ, by repenting of your sin and receiving Jesus Christ into your life, the Scripture says anyone in Christ is a brand new creature! Old things are passed away and all things have become new. You can be transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. But you must be willing to repent.

You know what the word repentance means? It means that you’re going in one direction, away from God, out of the will of God, going your own way, doing your own thing. And then you come face to face with your sin, and the waste of life without God, without Christ; and then you look to Christ who died on the cross for your sins, who rose again on the third day. And having repented, that is turning from your sins, you trust in Jesus Christ, receiving Him into your life, and now you’re going in a brand new direction. That’s what the Bible calls repentance and faith.

And to follow Jesus Christ means becoming a Christian, in your heart, in your life. Not just adopting a religion, but receiving a Savior into your life. And that’s where it starts; by inviting Christ into your life.

Dad, so I ask you this morning to ask yourself, “Am I saved? Have I repented of my sin? Do I know Jesus Christ personally? Is there evidence in my life that I belong to Him? Do my children know that I belong to Christ?” It’s wonderful being a great dad, but are you a godly dad? Is Christ in your life?

Jesus said, “Follow Me.” It’s a call to change your direction.

I’ll tell you something else. This admonition is a call to trust in His navigation. Jesus said, “Follow Me.” In other words, walk in His steps.

This week with the US Open on, we’ve been reminded of Payne Stewart and the wonderful transformation that took place in the golfer’s life when he met Jesus Christ. And who can forget watching Payne Stewart win last year’s. The American title, the US Open, and giving credit to God, and looking on his wrist and seeing those words, those letters, WWJD. What would Jesus do? And Payne Stewart as a man determined not to be just a golfer, but God’s man, leading his family, and to being the kind of father that his family could love as a man and as a man of God.

And that’s what it means, it begins to live, to follow Christ, it means to live by His direction and His navigation. And God’s Word is our tool for the navigation of life. And if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, if you’re following Jesus Christ, you’re going to listen to His Word. You’re going to respond to His Word. This Book will no longer be a relic sitting on the coffee table, or a museum piece in your life, a family heirloom; but it will be the living, breathing word of God that will begin to direct your life. And you will begin living your life according to the pattern of Jesus Christ.

The Scripture says that we’re to walk in His steps. We should be asking ourselves in the power of God’s Spirit what would Jesus do in this situation? How would Jesus respond? What would Jesus say? How would Jesus live?

And the good news is the Spirit of Jesus is living in us and His word will enable us, because this Book is a Book of wisdom of the ways of God, the wisdom of God, the principles, the precepts, the promises of God. And this Book will give your life order and purpose. And you don’t have to make something of your life; you can allow Jesus Christ to make something out of your life, by putting your trust in Him.

Thomas Carlisle said, “What this country needs is a man who knows God other than by hearsay.” Do you know God? Personally, individually?

Jesus said in John chapter 10, verse 27: “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow Me.” To follow Christ means a close relationship. These men in the New Testament who began to follow Christ left their nets and left their tables of taxation and all the rest, and they began to follow in this close life-partnership with Christ.

Life becomes an adventure when you’re following Jesus Christ. You can trust Him. Don’t feel sorry for me or any other person who’s following Jesus Christ, because it’s the greatest adventure and joy in life!

“Follow Me,” Jesus said! It is a call to change your direction. It is a call to trust His navigation. And then, it is a call to obey His instruction.

The word here in the New Testament is a word “follow me”, which literally means fall in. It’s a picture of an officer calling his troops to fall in. And in that sense the Word of God gives us specific instructions as to how we are to follow Christ as men, as women, as believers.

Let me just mention a few commands of God. First of all, you are to confess your faith openly. That’s an instruction, a clear instruction from our Commander-in-Chief. Romans 10:9 and 10 says, “If we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved. For with the heart man believes in the righteousness, but with mouth confession is made unto salvation. Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

I want to challenge men today to step out and stand up for Jesus Christ, to confess your faith openly. There are no secret disciples! Jesus said in Mark chapter 8 and verse 38, “If you’re ashamed of Me in this sinful and adulterous generation, I’ll be ashamed of you when I come in great glory with my holy angels.”

Are you willing to openly identify with Christ? Do the men in your office and the women on your staff, or co-workers, do they know you to be a follower of Jesus Christ? Are you highly identified as a Christ follower in your family?

One way, the initial way that we identify with Christ is through believer’s baptism. I believe in the public invitation, and you’ll see that in just a moment, as we’re going to invite people to come forward and receive Christ as Lord and Savior. But in the days of the New Testament, the primary way of confessing faith in Christ was not signing a card or going forward, though they certainly must have separated the believers from the unbelievers on the day of Pentecost when so many came to Christ. There was some way of getting people separated. And yet the primary way that people identified with Christ in the New Testament was by believer’s baptism. To identify with Christ, following Christ in His death, His burial and His resurrection.

And how wonderful it is to see men and women, and boys and girls, week after week, service after service, identifying lovingly in obedience to Jesus Christ through believer’s baptism.

And I’m speaking to men today. Some of you need to take that stand for Christ and you need to be the next one in the water, following Christ in this way. To openly confess Him, to be a man in the power of God’s Spirit and to openly follow Christ. To stand with and say with Joshua of old, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

It’s not only a call to obey His instruction by confessing faith openly, but by living in purity and in integrity. Little eyes are watching you, Dad. And there’s no place in our lives for the stain of moral impurity or the lack of integrity. We need to be setting the highest possible standards for our lives. Not seeing how close to sin we can get without being burned, but rather, to separate ourselves from sin and the power of temptation upon our lives. We all face it; we all know the struggles. But keeping your heart right and keeping your heart pure, and living and walking in integrity is essential if you’re going to be God’s man and a dad that can lead your family. It begins by following Christ in His holiness and in His purity.

Also I would say it means loving your wife devotedly. One of the greatest things you can do for your family, for your kids, men, is to love your wife in front of your kids; to demonstrate it and to show it, to be enraptured with her, to be caught up with her, following Jesus Christ. To love your wife as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for it.

I’m going to tread into some water here and I want you to listen very carefully. Perhaps you read in the Dallas Morning News religion section yesterday the article concerning divorce in Christians, and divorce in the church. And I don’t know about the statistics and the surveys. I happen to believe that some of those numbers are inaccurate that were reported if you read the article, but I do know that it is a major problem in the church of Jesus Christ in this generation.

I do know the Bible says God hates divorce. It’s a difficult subject to deal with it, isn’t it? Because it’s sort of like a tightrope, and I see today dads and moms, and husbands and wives with their children on this tightrope called Life, and many winds are blowing and there are many difficulties. And frankly sometimes people fall off the tightrope. And we need to make sure that the church of Jesus Christ is underneath with a net to catch people when they fall; to show grace and mercy and love.

And our church is committed. This is a grace place for all people who have been through the tragedies and the traumas of life, including divorce. And we believe very strongly that we ought to extend God’s grace and mercy. And I believe frankly that one of the reasons these statistics show that evangelical Christians, and Baptists in particular, have a high divorce rate in the church is because Christians who believe in the new birth experience and churches who teach it, often receive people who have been through a divorce, whose lives are brand new now in Christ. And that makes up some of the stats.

But having said all of that, I want you to listen to me, guys in particular. It’s time in the church to raise the standard for our marriages, for our relationships. And could it be in endeavoring to meet people at the point of their need and loving them in spite of failure in marriage, etc. that we have somehow in the minds of our young people and our young adults lowered the bar, lowered the standard? So that now it seems that we even applaud those who divorce?

There’s a well known minister who’s divorcing his wife, or his wife is divorcing him, and that’s a tragedy and we regret that very much, but when it was announced in his church, when the minister who announced it indicated he was going to stay on as pastor, though divorced, and he said, you know he’ll be a better pastor now because he understands what you’re going through. And the congregation stood and applauded. Chuck Colson in commenting on this said, “Have we come to the place in the American church that we now applaud divorce?” God says, “I hate it.”

And men I want to challenge you to love your wife. If you’re in a new marriage, in a new relationship, you can’t go back and unscramble eggs. You can’t change what is passed, but you can change today. You can live for Jesus and you can commit to your wife and to your kids and to your family.

But I challenge you, men and women, to love one another. Because one of the most often asked questions kids are asking today, according to evangelist and youth speaker, Jay Streak, is this question, “Dad, do you still love Mom?” “Dad, do you love Mom?” Follow Jesus Christ by obeying His instructions and live according to the Word of God!

Fourthly, by spending time with your children daily. Ephesians chapter 6 talks about embittered children, embattled children, exasperated children! Children who are angry and agitated because they’ve been neglected or the lack of attentiveness, or favoritism, or overprotectiveness, or discouragement, or lack of encouragement, and abuse and all the rest! Dads, spend time with your kids!

The only way to spend quality time with your kids is to spend quantity time with your kids. Have you ever noticed that the best times don’t happen when you set everybody down and say, “Okay, one, two, three, we’re going to have quality time!” No, quality time takes place in the midst of being together a lot of the time and those golden moments, those great moments come that mark us and make us.

But if we’re going to lead our families, we must follow Christ by obeying His instructions, because those little boys and little girls and those older boys and girls are watching us.

Joe Perry, our Sports and Fitness minister, gave a devotion to our church staff the other day and he read this poem, through tears, I might add. And I wanted to share it with you. It’s called My Little Boy’s Dad.


I may never be as clever

As my neighbor down the street.

I may never be as wealthy

As some of the other people I meet.

I may never have the fame that other men may have,

But I’ve just got to be successful as my little boy’s dad.

There are dreams that I cherish

That I’d like to see come true.

There are things that I’d like to accomplish

Before my life is through.

But the task of my heart is set on no mere passing fad.

I’ve just got to be successful as my little boy’s dad.

It’s the one job I dream of,

The task I think of most,

For if I fail my little boy,

I’ve nothing else to boast.

For all the wealth and fame I’ve gather

my fortune, it would be sad

If I failed to be successful as my little boy’s dad.

I may never come to glory,

I may never gather gold,

And men may count me as a failure

when my business life is told.

But if my little boy can just grow up godly then I’ll be glad.

And then I’ll know I’ve been successful as my little boy’s dad.


To follow Christ means a change in direction, it means to trust His navigation, it means to obey His instruction, it means to surrender your ambitions to follow Christ. To pick up your cross and to do what is necessary, again, not in our own strength because human strength will fail us, but in the power and the energy, the dynamic of the Spirit of Christ who lives in us.

Because you see, when you surrender your life and your will and your ambitions to Jesus Christ and you begin following Him, all the good things in life can follow. All the blessings, all the benefits, all the privileges of being a child of the Father and an example to our own children.

I challenge you today, men and women, to follow Jesus Christ.