Haviland FamilyMatt is in the middle holding his son Miles, and his Dad is on the far left

by Matt Haviland

As a father now looking back I’ve come to appreciate my father and all the lessons I’ve learned from him. He’s the person who’s had the most impact on my spiritual life and as I think about it now there are 5 lessons he taught me on how to be a Christian father.

1. Be A Faithful Husband

My Dad taught me how to love my wife. He’s been faithfully married to my Mom for 40+ years. As a child I knew that my parents loved each other. We had a stable home and that helped me feel secure growing up. My parents had the occasional argument but they were brief and seemed to be resolved quickly. One of the most important things I can do as a father is to love my wife.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25 (RSV)

2. Help Others Even When It’s Uncomfortable

When I was little my dad worked at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. So naturally I got to spend time there growing up. I learned not to judge people because of their circumstances and that it was important to help people who couldn’t help themselves. The lesson of helping others came home one summer when my father moved a family coming from Africa into our basement for a few months. It was uncomfortable to share our small home with another family and share my toys with others who were sometimes destructive.

Looking back that was a great experience that helped me learn to be generous and appreciate other cultures and people that were different.

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16 (RSV)

3. Be Spiritually Involved In Your Children’s Life

My dad was the spiritual leader of our home. He took us to church and led by example at home. As my brothers got into Middle School and High School my parents volunteered as youth leaders for our church. Even though I was younger I was dragged to all the youth group events and Bible studies.

Later as a young adult my dad lead an unofficial Bible study at our home. This was a great time of spiritual growth and the birthplace of his famous “hot potato” questions which always created great discussion and debate. I desire to be the spiritual leader in my home as my father was in our home.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (RSV)

4. Handle Difficult Situations With Love And Grace.

There were several difficult situations that my dad faced. Disappointments that could easily have led to bitterness and hatred. Instead, he handled them with grace, love and forgiveness. Looking back I can see how God used those difficult situations for good even though they were hard to understand at the time.

“But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7 (RSV)

5. Keep Learning, Growing and Trusting God

My dad was a great example to me of desiring spiritual growth. He was open to learn and grow. I see how he continues to trust God and not rely on his own understanding.

“And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9-10 (RSV)

I’m thankful for my dad and hope to pass on the lessons I’ve learned from him to my son.

Matthew is a real estate consultant with the Haviland Group at Keller Williams Realty. He is a husband to Katrina, father to Miles and uncle to two nieces and five nephews. Matthew’s real estate blog can be found at http://SJHouses.com


  • Laurie says:

    This is so good Matt!! I read it with tears streaming down my face feeling like a broken hearted little girl wishing my daddy was just like Matt’s. I am far from a little girl now, and the wounds from not having a father like this are now scars healed by my Redeemer. Praise God for His plan! So many wounds can be avoided if fathers seek to be the Godly influence they are called to be in their home.

  • Renee Burrough says:

    I share a deep rooted love for my Daddy Lon McCartney also, Matt. He raised us in church, no matter where the military sent us, the first matter of concern was finding a place to worship. My heart is touched deeply by your words of love and for the remembrances of a loving Dad. Few people can affect us quite like our Daddy’s. As you said, most importantly knowing he loves your Mom and God are the two most affirming qualities he could possibly teach you. Blessed by the reading of your testimony! Renee’.

  • Carol says:

    Beautiful points, that get right to the heart of the most important things, Matt, and beautifully said! Your father’s blessing to you is the wonderful blessing to your family.

  • Carol Bilebof says:

    Like Laurie, I read your words with eyes stinging on the verge of tears – the kind that show up when the Spirit is plowing – and a burning heart also. what a legacy you have to share with your family and the world because your father walked purposefully as an example of Christ. Thank you for sharing so clearly these wonderful Truths, helping others to be able to learn and imitate for the Glory of God!

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