Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Father’s Day is a special day for me. See, my Dad is my hero. He has been since I was a little boy and he will be until the day one of us dies. The simple instruction above that Paul left for the fathers in his letter to the church in Ephesus is crucial. The legacy that the father leaves in his home is monumental.
Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, explains the importance of a husband’s (and by extension, father and household leader’s) role quite well in his book Reforming Marriage:
“The Bible says the ‘husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church (Eph. 5:23). Paul most emphatically does not say that husband ought to be the heads of their wives. He says that they are… He finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead… If a husband tries to run away from his headship, that abdication will dominate the home… How many children have grown up in a home dominated by the empty chair at home?”
What Wilson is communicating here is that the husband cannot refuse to lead his home. He, as the natural, God-ordained leader of his home, will lead. He may lead in his absence or his presence, in a godly fashion or an ungodly fashion, but he will lead regardless. So many homes today are dominated by the absence of a godly father. This leads to all sorts of dire consequences, because, as Paul notes above, the role of the father is to raise his children up in the Lord.
I am exceedingly thankful that my Dad has strived since the day I was born to raise me up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Growing up, it seemed that Dad’s every answer was torn from one page of Scripture or another. He quoted Scripture in our home. He taught us the truth of the Gospel from very early on. He showed us what a life changed by the Gospel looks like. He taught me how to love a wife. He taught me how to throw a ball. He taught me how to take a punch and how to get up after I’ve been knocked down. He taught me how to love the church. And, most importantly, he taught me how to love the Lord.
I can say without hesitation or reservation that my Dad is the reason why I am in the ministry today. He showed me what it meant to be a godly man who loves his family and the church. He taught me how to interpret the Word and how to craft a sermon. He would never admit it, but my listening intently to hundreds of his sermons taught me how to preach one on my own. And my Dad is still teaching me things to this day. Aside from my wife, my Dad is my closest confidant in ministry. He advises me almost daily on how to be a good pastor and a good husband. He encourages me when I am depressed or distraught. He admonishes me when I am in the wrong. And he argues with me about theology because we both love the Word. And he argues with me about how why I believe the SEC is Satan’s favorite football conference.
Throughout history there have been many faithful preachers and successful ministers who have seen God work mightily on their behalf in ministry, but who have sacrificed their families on the altar of ministry. My Dad is the rare man of God who has seen the Holy Spirit work mightily throughout his ministry and who has made the commitment to love his family even more than his church. He might not tell you these things in person, but God has used my Dad, either indirectly or directly, to win thousands of people to Himself. As a youth pastor, my Dad saw the Holy Spirit draws students by the dozens to faith in Christ. As a missionary, he discipled dozens of teenaged boys in Belize in the Lord and evangelized countless villages as well. As a missionary executive, my Dad played a part in sending over 100 missionaries to the field to win the lost for Jesus Christ. And as a pastor, my Dad is actively making disciples inside and outside of the local church.
I have seen Dad chased down by poisonous snakes in Belize. I have heard him tell of staring down the barrel of a gun for the sake of the Gospel. I have witnessed the church that was ravaged by an EF-5 tornado as he stood inside. I have heard tales of Dad’s breaking up gang fights and evangelizing the hoodlums in the process and of him staring down gang leaders as they threatened the lives of his family. I have seen God spare my Dad’s life on several accounts.
Wes White is truly an amazing man. He has accomplished much for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He has stared down death and won souls to life in Christ. And he considered it all less important than leading his own family in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I praise God for my father and I pray that I will one day be half the man, believer, husband, father, and minister that is. I praise God for giving me a real-life hero who loves me more than I’ll ever know.
Happy Father’s Day!
 Douglas J. Wilson, Reforming Marriage (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1995), 23-24.