The Lord blessed my wife and me with three amazing children. I jokingly say, “They are all girls except two!” Like most dads, I understand my sons; how they think, what they mean, and how to sharpen them as iron sharpens iron. After all, they are my own kind. How to equip them mentally, physically and spiritually came more natural to me. But a precious little girl?
Since that hot July afternoon in 1984, when I became a dad to a little girl named Katie, I have been on a mission. I came to realize that my daughter doesn’t simply need a role model; she needs a champion, a hero, a hand to hold and a heart to trust.
While I know I made many mistakes and there were many teachable moments I missed, I am thankful that all three of our children love the Lord and are serving Him today. Katie recently said that my greatest gift to her was “giving a little girl the priceless gift of a healthy foundation and framework for how she views God, herself, and others.”
I’d like to unpack her words on how these three things can be transferred from a father to a daughter and then share how the biblical manhood of a father helps shape biblical womanhood in our daughters.
Her View of God
A healthy framework for how they view God begins with a deep appreciation and understanding of God’s grace. Scripture describes God’s grace as “varied” (1 Pet 4:10), and grace in our homes should be varied too.
Grace and Forgiveness
For our daughters to have a healthy view of God’s grace, our homes should be a place where love and affection are freely expressed and where forgiveness and grace are extended quickly and often. “Daddy wounds” are something that drives little girls to look for love and acceptance in the wrong places. Therefore, saying “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” should be commonplace.
It has been said, “anger (which is usually rooted in male self-centeredness) gets you into trouble and pride keeps you there.” I am reminded from Scripture that selfishness and pride are enemies of my heart and my walk with Jesus. Humbling ourselves, asking forgiveness, and living lives that consider our girls as more important than ourselves will, by God’s grace, help protect them from being drawn to arrogant, self-centered men.
Joy and Delight
I wanted our children to love coming home and to remember their childhood with great joy and fondness. We’re reminded of the faithful servant who is told to “Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:23). The joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh 9:10), and it is our calling. If we want to have our daughters see a clear view of God, they must see in us the joy the Lord.
Purposefully providing an atmosphere of joy, laughter, fun, and delight causes our children to want to return home and be in our presence. May it never be that a Christian home is seen as harsh, judgmental, legalistic, and absent of joy. When our daughters find joy in time with us, it keeps them from hungering for it from somewhere else.
To raise daughters that delight in God, they must see us delight in Him first. As they see in our lives that in His presence is “fullness of joy,” and at His right hand are “pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11), they will find that the secret to the satisfaction of their heart’s desire is truly realized in Christ.
You see, none of this is overly complicated. Anyone can do the things that give a daughter security and stability. You must be present. You must be connected. You must be all there for her.
Her View of Others
As dads respond to the gospel with their lives, they not only show their daughters a biblical view of God but also a biblical view of others.
I made a commitment early in my ministry that I would never offer my family as a sacrifice on the altar of success. But ministry was and is demanding. Being a pastor, my prayer was that my children would never resent that I was “on call” 24/7. Katie could have resented church members demanding my time, calling me home from family vacations with deaths, tragedies, etc.
Biblical priorities bring a father to a place of putting God first, family second, ministry/career third. Believe me when I say, your children know what you put first and second in your life. They will tell you because they have to live with your choices each day.
At the same time, your children need to see you pouring your life out for the gospel. They need to see you love others as you love yourself. They need to see you give and go and serve and share and sacrifice for the sake of Christ.
As fathers, we need to be leading our daughters into service of our Lord and Master. Katie grew up going with me to nursing homes, hospitals, and home visits. I wanted her to see her dad visit the widow and give to the orphan. Your daughter needs to see you do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with God (Mic 6:8). Discipling her is not just in the hearing but in the doing.
Her View of Herself
Finally, a dad must also help a daughter learn how to view herself. Much of a girl’s self-image comes from her dad.
Regardless of who you are or what you do, your daughter cares about how she feels when she is with you. She needs to know that you love her deeply and that you are there to provide her with shelter and safety. In this way, we mirror the love of their Heavenly Father so that they might be led to trust Him and run to Him for security.
As dads, we must give our daughters our best, as our Heavenly Father gave us His Best and His All. And then we must entrust them to the One who will be faithful to complete His work in her until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).