Character or Emotion-Driven: Which Kind of Dad are You?

Since we are in the month that we have a day designated as “Fathers Day” I wanted to pause and think about the very important role God’s men are called to fulfill as dads.  One of my favorite authors and teachers is Dr. John Maxwell.  He is the founder of INJOY and EQUIP and he has trained millions of leaders all over the world.  What does leadership have to do with being a dad you might ask?  As far as I’m concerned it has everything to do with being a dad!  God calls us to be spiritual leaders, the priest of our household, intercessory prayer warriors for our families, and He has modeled the appropriate character and behavior required to fulfill this role in the family.

In his book THE MAXWELL DAILY READER John Maxwell writes “Successful people are willing to do things unsuccessful people will not do.  My observation is that one of those things that makes a difference is the issue of being character driven instead of emotion driven.  This is the difference:

CHARACTER-DRIVEN PEOPLE:             EMOTION-DRIVEN PEOPLE:
Do right, then feel right                     Feel good, then do right
Are commitment driven                      Are convenience driven
Make principle-centered decisions         Make popular based decisions
Let actions control their attitude          Let attitude control their actions
Believe it, then see it                          See it, then believe it
Create momentum                              Wait for momentum
Ask “What are my responsibilities?”        Ask “What are my rights?”
Continue when problems arise              Quit when problems arise
Are steady                                         Are moody
Are leaders                                         Are followers

The late Louis L ’Amour is one of the best-selling authors of all time.  Nearly 230 million copies of his books are in print worldwide, and every one of his more than one hundred books is still in print.  When asked the key to his writing style, he responded, ‘Start writing no matter what.  The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”1 

Maxwell is saying we must rely on character and not our emotions to be successful leaders and dads.  I think we could all agree that one thing we could use a lot more of in our world today is men of character.  So what is the character of a Godly man?  Paul wrote to the Thessalonicans “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”2   While there are many characteristics we could list, better to start with a simple list.  A Godly dad encourages, comforts, and urges his children.

The key to encouragement is using God’s Word to inspire your children.  “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”3   One of the greatest gifts we give our children is hope.  Not only hope in the present that but the hope of eternity that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  God tells us “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”4   Godly Dad’s encourage their children daily!

Godly Dads comfort their children in the same way as God Himself comforts us.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”5   We have to overcome the world’s influence to ignore this critical characteristic and give our children the same comfort that God offers each of us.

As you look at the three characteristics you might say “I am really good at urging my children” but be careful of defining this characteristic as pushing your children in a direction you want them to achieve.  God doesn’t push us in a direction but desires that we seek his guidance for our lives.  Likewise, Godly Dads provide motivation and reason for seeking God’s direction and guidance.  Paul tells us “Therefore I urge you to imitate me.”6   You see if you are living your life for the Lord then you want to urge your children to follow your example.  There is one thing we know for sure, your children will follow your example, whether good or bad, they are going to emulate your behavior.

Character-driven or emotion-driven, which are you striving to be?  I hope you will consider the three characteristics I have shared with you and incorporate them in your interactions with your children.  Godly Dads leave a powerful legacy if they exhibit the character of encouraging, comforting, and urging their children.  HAPPY FATHERS DAY!


[1] Maxwell, John C., THE MAXWELL DAILY READER, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN, pg. 122

[2]  1 Thessalonians 2:11 & 12

[3] Romans 15:3

[4] Hebrews 3:13

[5] 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

[6] 1 Corinthians 4:16

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