The story of the prodigal son is one of the most famous parables of Jesus (Luke 15:11-32). It beautifully and simply portrays the love God has for his wayward children. The father, who represents God in the story, takes center stage displaying love, forgiveness, and parental wisdom. In studying this story, I noticed six lessons for those of us who want to be great dads.
- Great dads allow their adult children freedom (v. 11-12). The father gave his younger son his half of the inheritance. He surely knew he would squander it away, but he recognized he was an adult. The sad truth is the best of fathers sometimes lose their children to the world. We cannot control our children for their whole lives, we must be willing to let them go.
- Great dads allow their children to live with their consequences (v. 13-16). One of the hardest part of parenting is allowing your kids to suffer the effects of their poor choices. He didn’t go and rescue him from the pig pen or send him a steak while he was hungry! Parents must seek to love without enabling. Children often have to hit bottom before they will come home.
- Great dads create warm memories of home (v. 17-19). When the son was in the pig pen, he remember his father’s house. He remembered the kindness and goodness of home. We should want to raise our children with love and security so they can have fond memories of home.
- Great dads long to welcome their children home (v. 20). The father never quit loving the son. He was looking for his return. We must keep in mind that this isn’t just a reconciliation to the family. The story isn’t about he decided to come to Thanksgiving dinner! Jesus is emphasizing he chose to return to the teachings and faith of his parents. He came back to God!
- Great dads forgive their children (v. 21-24). The son truly repented and the father forgave immediately. He didn’t bring up the money or the shame he had brought upon his family. He treated him as his son and celebrated that he was alive! Children need to know their father will forgive them when they have done wrong!
- Great dads minister to each child where they are (v. 25-32). The older son, who had been faithful and loyal all the years, was hurt over the father’s actions. He refused to come to the party celebrating the son’s return. But the father went immediately to entreat him. He explained his reason and implored him to realize the joy in his brother’s return. For many Christians our faithfulness can lead to entitlement. The father was able to treat the elder son as he needed and see his strengths and weaknesses too.
Which of these six lessons do you need to apply today to your life to be a great dad?