The Greatest Father

There’s a lot of angst in the world about fathers. How many television shows feature people trying to find missing fathers, or absent fathers trying to reconcile with their children, or people struggling to grow up without a father at all? It would be nice if all families had kind and devoted fathers, but that’s not the case. But there have been some exceptional ones in history.

Charlemagne, king of the Franks (ancient France) and of the Romans in the 8th century, had 20 children. He was careful to educate all of them – even the girls, which was unusual at the time. One of his sons was found guilty of conspiring to kill the king, but Charlemagne took pity on him and found a way to save him from execution. He was a father who cared.

One of history’s worst fathers was, surprisingly, Constantine the great who made life much easier for early Christians in the 4th century. One of his sons carried out many of his father’s military campaigns, and they were quite close. But for some unknown reason, Constantine had him executed and all monuments dedicated to him destroyed.

Most men try to be good fathers, but the job comes with little training. Whether you’re ready or not, fatherhood is thrust upon you when you have a child. We look for models to follow, and the best of all is God Himself.

God is the father of all mankind (Acts 17:24) and provides for all of us, whether we are good or evil. He created the nation of Israel and treated them as His sons. “When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son” (Hos.11:1). Through the sacrifice of Jesus, He adopted us as sons and cares for us every day. “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor.6:18). Through God we learn to care for our families, to love each one of our children, to shield them from danger, to treat them special, and provide them with guidance.

Kings, emperors and ordinary men have all struggled with fatherhood. You don’t have to be rich and powerful to be a good one. God Himself shows us how to perform this most important role He has bestowed upon men. Whatever your circumstances, if you’re a father you can do it well.


– Tim Johnson