The Stable Presence
Steady fathers clothe themselves with love and let Christ’s peace rule in their hearts (Colossians 3:14–15). The peace of Christ is the root of Christian sober-mindedness. He is our peace. He is our stability. He is the sure and steadfast anchor of our souls. And a godly father who welcomes the peace of Christ in his heart is empowered to be a sober-minded anchor for his family. The peace of Christ enables him to be a spiritual harbor for them in the storms and trials of life.
Fathers are called to provide for and protect their households. To do this well, they must be sober-minded and stable men who lead their families with gladness, fortitude, wisdom, and resilience.
To provide literally means “to see before.” Thus, a key element of provision is anticipation. A dad is responsible to anticipate the needs, threats, and temptations in his household. His goal is to have clarity about the issues facing his family, coupled with a readiness to act with wisdom to address them.
And he does not do so by himself. In seeking this clarity for the sake of provision, a father does well to remember that he has been given a helper precisely for this purpose. Together, they will see more than if they try to see alone. A faithful father welcomes the insights and wisdom of his wife concerning the needs of the family.
Fathers with Sober Minds
A common pitfall in a father’s leadership is defensiveness in response to his wife’s insights, comments, and encouragements to act. Say a mother sees a pattern of sin forming in her son’s life. She brings it to her husband’s attention, wanting him to do something about it. He gets defensive, or blows up, or shuts down, or shifts blame. All of these reactions display a lack of sober-mindedness.
This is true regardless of whether his wife brings the issue to his attention in a helpful way. Say that the sin in the kids has awakened fear in her. She knows that little sins, when left unchecked, become big sins. Little sinners, if left unchecked, grow up to be big sinners. And so, she brings this to her husband’s attention with some anxiety, agitation, and (perhaps) frustration that the sin has festered as long as it has.
Such situations call for stable sober-mindedness. At a basic level, sober-mindedness is the opposite of drunkenness (1 Thessalonians 5:6–8). Drunkenness refers to the physical, cognitive, and moral impairment caused by drinking too much alcohol. Drunkenness negatively affects one’s judgment, frequently leading to other sins. Those who are drunk don’t see clearly, nor do they stand firmly, nor do they act wisely.
Crucially, alcohol is not the only intoxicant. Passions too, whether ours or others, can cloud our judgment and hinder wise action. Under the influence of passions, we become reactive and tossed to and fro. Again, we get defensive, blow up, shut down, or shift blame.
Therefore, to be sober-minded is to see with clarity, stand with stability, and act with wisdom. Sober-minded men govern their own passions, and thus they are able to absorb and endure the passions, reactions, and agitations of others.
Making a Resilient Dad
Where does such sober-mindedness come from? In my own life, I frequently return to Colossians 3:12–17 as a way of building sober-minded resilience into my soul. So let us consider the passage, not merely as a word to all Christians, but as a word applied particularly to husbands and fathers.