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


Paone family

by Ed Paone

I have been a father for over 28 years.

What have I learned in that time?

What would I pass on to my three children concerning parenting (I have three young grandchildren and one on the way)?

We are directed by the Bible to constantly teach our children about God. Our family life is to revolve around Him. Every home should be the home described in Deuteronomy 11:19, where fathers are teaching God’s word to their children “…when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

But what is described above is really the end result of something. It doesn’t provide much direction on how to get there. A family doesn’t become more devoted to God through better planning or a resolve to act a certain way without something deeper.

And the something deeper is this – a family is moved in a Godly direction when it’s spiritual leader (that’s us, fellow fathers, whether we assume the responsibility or not) is convinced that it is the best path for their family.

So my advice for fathers is to consider, daily, whether a love for God is truly their priority. Through prayer, the reading of God’s word, and reflection, continually ask yourself basic questions about your faith –

Has God proven Himself faithful to you?

Is His word true, are you moved by the sacrifice of Jesus?

Is His character something you desire to see in your children?

Are you convinced that nothing truly “good” will happen in the lives of your children absent the working of God’s Spirit in them?

How you respond to those questions, and the conviction with which you believe them, will determine how you run your house.

I am struck by just how much my grandchildren reflect their parents at such a young age. They are being molded and changed before they can even consciously decide to act a certain way. So, as time goes on, will they pick up that their dad is most interested in the success of his favorite team, or in the things that he owns or desires to own? Is he proudest of them when they achieve in sports or win an academic award at school?

Or will they see from their dad that his greatest desire is to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength, and that all he does is with that in mind?

May we become better fathers to our children by becoming better sons of our God!