Every home has an aroma. Some are fragrant and bursting with life. Others are noxious, with all the appeal of the city morgue.

Do Dad and Mom live in harmony, or are they chippy with each other? Are the children thriving in the rich soil of their parents’ love and discipline, or are they withering?

Is there joy in the home?

I remember when, as a single college student, I first got involved in a good church. I was struck—no, awestruck—by the beauty of her homes. Not the physical structures, mind you. No, the attraction I felt was for the beauty of holiness practiced within. I had never seen such expressions of mutual love and delight.

Where did this joy come from? In every case it seemed to flow from a happy Daddy. Now that I have a wife and kids of my own, I’ve found it’s really true. I can make or break the happiness of my home. It can be as simple as the way I come home at night.

If I come in the front door still on the phone, or with the cares of work consuming my mind, my children tend to spiral into behavioral chaos. My wife is aggravated and we all just kind of hold our breath until bedtime. Maybe watch an episode of Busytown (thanks to the editor for figuring out what this is called) on Netflix and mix up some drinks just strong enough to take off the edge and get us through it.

But if I come home happy and let my family taste that happiness immediately—everything is different. My wife is happy, my children are eager to please, the birds are singing in the trees. My kids might even want me to read them a story, or better, to read the Bible.

Dads, I think our families so love and anticipate our return home that they can’t handle the letdown when we enter distractedly. I know sometimes this is unavoidable. Life happens. But even then, it’s important to do what you can to make known your affection to your family—to grab their hearts. Of course, children can play hard to get. But don’t be discouraged by that. They play hard to get because they’re insecure. They want to know you mean it.

So mean it—with all the confidence and strength that comes from a heart overflowing with joy in God. Even grumpy wives who have had long, hard days have few defenses against a jolly and content husband. No matter how much peanut butter got in their hair.

man-933701And I don’t just mean crawling on the floor for a tickle fight right away (although that should happen regularly). Often I find that love needs to come in the form of discipline. And the only thing for it is to jump to it. Children perceive this as love.

But in the end, it’s not so much how we walk in the door. Joy is the taproot of all true fathering. Our fatherhood comes to us from God, the perfect Father. And God is happy. He rejoices in Himself and in His children.

If you’re a father, God has surrounded you with the sweetest of blessings and the happiest of duties. Don’t be morose. Delight yourself in abundance. Get yourself happy in God, Dad. Learn to rest in Him and be thankful for what He has so richly blessed you with. If you will, then your delight in your family will testify to them of their heavenly Father’s own delight.

And everyone will be clamoring for a piece of it. Neighborhood kids will gravitate toward your yard. College kids in your church will invite themselves over for dinner, and not just because dorm food is terrible. They’ll be hungry for the happiness of your home because they’re hungry for the happiness and good pleasure of God the Father. Show it to them.

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