I wish my own story of my father were better than the reality, but such is not the case. And the burden of his failings has had a definite impact on myself, and I'm sure, on my siblings as well. But as with many lessons in my life I have learned more from those that did it wrong than those that did right. Those in leadership positions, including my father, that treated me wrongly throughout my life, taught me the depth of the impact on the psyche of those that receive such poor treatment. A leader is a de facto father (or mother) in the workplace, the community, church, classroom, etc. I was often surprised to see how a friend of mine years ago would subconsciously place upon our mutual leader the responsibility to compensate for his own father's failings. I'm not even sure if my friend was cognizant of what he was doing, but I knew of his struggle with his harsh father. And I could see so many times that he immediately viewed many of the behaviors or actions of our leader through this cracked lens of his own father and therefore judged those actions and behaviors in a way that did not correspond with or even starkly contrasted with what I knew of the leader.
This is the baggage we carry about our fathers and mothers. We interpret so much of the world through the lens of these people that we first encounter when we are new to the world and trying to grapple with and understand the amazing spectacle of life that we are thrust into. Those early experiences run deep and carry some of the most important clues to who we are and what this all means. So, such experiences can have a deep and lasting impact on how we interpret and react to life. The simple messages that are so carelessly placed upon a child's soul during those times can be critical to their ultimate self-worth, to their belief in the value of living, and to their understanding and choices about their obligation to the rest of the world. Small things can seem to be so much larger in the limited context of a young life.
So, fathers (and mothers) are important, and once we get to those places in life that we fill those roles, having already been impacted by the good and bad examples, we should be already convinced of the importance of getting it right. And knowing the importance, we should have that much greater motivation to get it right. But this is where human frailty often comes in and dashes all the best laid plans of mice and men. Individual responsibilty, though, if grounded in the first principle to "love thy God" and (by obligation to God) "love thy neighbor" should give us sufficient incentive to act.
In any case, fathers are critical in our development, and much of what we go through and experience as fathers once we reach that plateau in life enlightens us to the character and mind of God. As a young man, I was vaguely aware of these concepts that we could understand and interpret who God was through the evidence He left behind -- or that we could know His character by the principles stamped on his handiwork (creation) -- or even that we could understand His heart and motivation by the various situations we encounter with nature or people (life in general). But I was a fledgling in the world, just trying to grasp the more basic things and more consumed by what my responsibilities were and perhaps more engaged in the various dissipations of life whether for relief or pleasure. It was an aviator friend, who ultimately became a missionary, that truly exposed me to the rich revelation of God's heart and intent by his simple, pure example as a good father himself. But perhaps just as important were his simple words that compared much of what he did in life to how the Heavenly Father works, thinks, and acts.
I had never realized before what a profound concept that was and how it so easily helped me to interpret what God was doing in my life and to understand God's heart and mind. I have so often used that concept to explicate my understanding of my role with my family, to understand what God would want, or what God would do in my shoes, given the limitations, demands, and frailties that I am subject to. This concept often guides me in my actions and simultaneously reveals to me the mind of God as He gives inspiration during these acts as to how He would act and what pleases Him.