I have always wanted to be a dad. This is no doubt because of my own father's example. His contestant love, encouragement, support, correction, and wisdom not only led me, but molded me. He tickled me, kissed me, taught me, warned me, and gave me everything he had in himself. His devotion to his wife (my mom) showed me the value and joy of marriage. So I always wanted to have what he had. I wanted (and still want) to be like him. In many ways I had it easy. Not everyone has a dad like I have. My own father didn't.
Years ago I asked him, "You didn't grow up with a dad. He left the family when you were very little. How did you know what to do? How did you turn out to be such a great father?" He said, "I wanted to give you what I never had, but always wanted." Even those with bad examples of a father can be implicitly guided in a better way.
Every father has the God-given privilege and opportunity to show his children the character of God; to point them to the Father. Even though my Dad didn't know the Lord, the imago dei still shined in him to a degree that was visible. Just as God the Father provides, protects, loves, and delights in his children, so must all fathers follow his example. A good father is always teaching his kids--this is what God is like.
Five years ago my dad received from me what I had received from others--the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And now, we share in the saving grace of God. I continue to learn from my dad, but now we are learning together from our Heavenly Father.
To check out some of the wisdom my dad passed on when I was a kid, check out my post at Christianity.com.