There was a time when leadership was both honored and obeyed, and where men of renown would gather together at the city gates or the entryways to decide what was good for the well-being of communities. They would take the prophetic Word spoken by the prophets and interpret its truths so that every family could align him or herself with the will of God. They were usually the elders with years of experience in both life and judgments. Issues could then be easily settled and the people would move in one direction. Without the conveniences of modern technology, the spoken work connected to the fundamentals that governed behavior and were taught by every father and reinforced by every mother. If controversy arose, it was settled among the elders or fathers of the people.
The elders were men that administered justice, settled disputes, and guided the people under their charge. Even the king would consult the elders even though he had the authority to determine his own course of action. As we retrace the path of history, it is easy to see those points of departure that adversely affect society today. In order for elders to govern the affairs of the king, they must first govern their own households. Fathers had to be there as heads of the household with an eye towards future generations. What choices would be left for children who were under the rule of fathers setting the example for them? It is a matter of established authority and the lack thereof that will determine either the rise or fall of civilization. The disintegration of morals can be directly traced back to the relaxed morals of prior generations that left individuals to judge matters independent of an established standard. God would speak to the prophets and the prophets would convey the prophetic word to the elders. The message was not merely to inform, but with the intent that lives be conformed to the standard established by God Himself. If the prophets were not received as instruments sent by God, neither the king, the fathers, nor the elders would have received the message. The receptivity of the family was commensurate to the receptivity of the father. They were taught of the Lord through their fathers.
Today God speaks through His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). Likewise, we are taught of the Lord through the ministry gifts given to the Body of Christ. Yet it is the fathers who have the primary responsibility to interpret the message so that his family may gain a clearer understanding. Although it expands beyond an intellectual understanding, the Word must be articulated in daily practice. How the Word of God is to be applied to every area of life will require aged men with maturity gained through experience. They not only speak of truth, but spare their children the pains of having to face life without a guide. Their successes and failures can be used as object lessons for the immature and inexperienced. Their tried and proven methods can be built upon from generation to generation.
Church fathers then can become city fathers. The Church was intended to be the center of the community as the gathering place for the instructions in knowledge and wisdom. Additionally, fathering is the derivative of being fathered. As Father, God set the criteria and model for every man that would ever occupy such a sacred position. Just as He spoke to the prophets of old to the fathers or elders, so He speaks today. To understand Christ’s earthly mission and to fully participate in work is our highest calling. Through Him we fulfill the role and carry out our mission. Let us not shortchange our children by giving them less than what they so desperately need. Guide them into knowing Christ through our godly example. Who will be our future city leaders? Those that we are training and leading today.