December 20, 2014

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.” Proverbs 20:7

“A son’s experience of his father, whether it is one of absence, neglect, presence or abuse, is a powerful one and directly impacts his sense of himself as a man and as a father.” ~ Ted Bowman

Certainly, the same could be said of a daughter’s experience of her father and the impact on her as a woman and a mom.

My wife and I have four children — two boys, two girls and all vastly different. Men, as fathers we have many responsibilities — care, discipline, guidance, instruction, love, provision, protection, understanding and a number of other adverbs. But ultimately our role as Christian fathers’ is to help our children become totally dependent on the Lord and fully independent of us. Fathering is anything but easy, it’s selfless, takes tons of patience, careful listening and thoughtful guidance, but it’s so worth it!

Fathers, want to change our culture? It begins with you and Training up a child.

Proverbs 22:6 provides great advice for fathers. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The Hebrew word for train means “to dedicate”. Child-training involves “narrowing” a child’s conduct away from evil and toward godliness and starting them in the right direction. It is our responsibility to prepare our children for their future responsibilities. Our children must be trained in godliness and right direction, simply because this is the way the Lord desires for them to go! And you can be sure our words are meaningless without the right action to back-up them up. We can tell our children how much we love them and/or how proud we are of them, but if they don’t feel it we are wasting our breath. We can’t just tell them about godliness and right direction, we must live it out in front of them! They must see what it looks and feels like!

By God’s sovereign design children are different – so naturally their interests and motivations are different. I know each of our four children; two whom are on their own are very different from one another! For me not to recognize His sovereign design in their life is sin and harmful to their relationship with God as well as my relationship with them. Our culture values the things of this earth, good looks, achievement, money and more money all of which are outward rather than character qualities that are most important to the Lord. I Samuel 16:6-7 and I Peter 3:3-4 makes clear that God looks at the heart. Fathers, if we buy into the same value system and it becomes a part of raising our children, we will inevitably value/favor certain traits in one child’s life over another. A history lesson from the life of Jacob and Joseph in Genesis 37:3-4 shows us that pain and animosity are the results of favoritism of one child over another.

God created everyone uniquely and He loves and values each of us without favoritism! Read Paul’s words from I Corinthians 12:22: “some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary … Instead, God has put the body together in such a way that extra honor and care are given to those parts that might otherwise seem less important”

To understand and fully embrace our children’s differences is not only critical to fulfilling our role as a father, but will lead to a healthy relationship with both God the Father and us (as fathers) long after our children leave home. NOTE: Our children are different than we are and if we expect them to be like us, or for that matter more like their brother or sister, we will only create distance in our relationship with them and even worse — hinder their relationship with GOD the FATHER! And we DO NOT want to hinder their relationship with the Lord. “Whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me — it would better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

So what if your kid is not the Michael Jordan of athletes, or doesn’t become the Steve Jobs of business or the Billy Graham of evangelism …just knowing they were created exactly as God intended should provide you with all the satisfaction you need to celebrate who they are!

Think about this: Would you enjoy going home (regardless of age) to visit your father, knowing that EVERY TIME you are with him you are going to hear how you really need to think and be more like him? That what you are doing is just not that important or good enough? That who you are is a disappointment to him? That he has little interest in what you are interested in and has no desire to hear about what’s going in your life and career? Of course not! You would avoid this scenario as much as possible, unless you’re fond of abuse. By the way, if you happen to be an adult reading this and this is your situation, please accept that the issue is not you, your father is wrong and he is the issue! The only ONE you need to be more like is JESUS! God sent His only SON as an example and sacrifice for you, because you are worth HIS SON’s shed blood to HIM!! Allow GOD to Father you, take time to get to know Him through His Word and prayer! HIS LOVE IS FAITHFUL and beyond compare!

So a little fatherly advice: Help your children become who God created them to be and you will help change a culture for the better! Make no mistake, God is the One calling the shots — “In the image of God He created him: male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Become students of your children and embrace their differences (I Corinthians 7:24, 26). Never exasperate your children (Colossians 3:21) and do not cause them to sin (Matthew 18:6). Love them without condition (I Corinthians 13:4-7) and celebrate who they are (Psalm 127:3), while encouraging them to follow the LORD (Proverbs 22:6)!!! You do this and chances are they will not only follow the Lord, but your relationship with them when they are old and gray will become even better than it is today!

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.” Proverbs 20:7