MATTHEW 6:31–33; PROVERBS 22:6
Being a father is hard work. You must be tough, gentle, smart, and you must provide. In 2018 when my first child was born, I was confronted with the question, “What is a father who ‘provides’?” It was clear to both my wife and I that I should be a stay-at-home dad. Her career was on the rise, and with the cost of childcare going up every day, it made sense for me to stay home. But how could I stay home with children and be the provider people thought I should be?
What does it mean to provide for our children?
There is so much pressure on men and fathers to provide. Making the decision to stay at home and be the primary caretaker for the children weighed heavy. Although I had support, all I could hear was “the man is supposed to provide.” All I could see were faces of disapproval and confusion when people would ask my occupation.
According to Merriam-Webster.com, provide means “to supply or make available (something wanted or needed).” Providing for children is both necessary and responsible. But I have learned that my children need so much more from me than financial provision. As Christians we are called
to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Our children have real physical needs. Food, clothes, and a place to live are all vital, but it doesn’t stop there. One of the main goals of being a provider is found in Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go” (ESV). Which way is that? And how do we do it? If we are seeking God first, He will give us the tools and equip us to raise our children in the way they should go.
What do our children need?
What are practical things we can provide for our children? They need us to be present. Our children need our time. They need patience, kindness, compassion, direction, discipline, and affection from us. They need safety: physically, mentally, and emotionally. They need our love. At times, this type of provision is often more challenging than financial provision. What is worth more to a two- year-old, more money or me helping her put on her princess dress, throwing on some old school Donnie McClurkin, and jamming out? Financial provision is important, but we must not let it be at the expense of emotional and spiritual provision.
We can only give what we have received. Biblical provision cannot be done in our own strength.
As our children grow through the different phases of life, our provision must change and grow with them. Because of this we are to seek God first and continually! To all my fellow fathers: take heart, your provision matters, your family needs you, and the Father is with you. Let us lean into the Father and embrace our role as fathers who are providers.