“It might be helpful to think of your kids as your disciples and your goal is to help them develop Christ-like characters.”
Title: A Godly Father (Eph. 6:1-4; Prov. 22:6)
By: Bert Amsing (1992)
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with a promise, “that it might go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.
The Ideal Father
A father of five children had won a toy at a raffle. He called his kids together to ask which one should have the present.
“Who is the most obedient?” he asked. “Who never talks back to mother? Who does everything she says?”
The five kids looked at each other and then look back at their father and they answered in unison, “You, Dad, you play with it!”
The Definition of a Father … a man who carries photographs where his money used to be.
The Heart of a Father.
One day mother came by the nursery and noticed her husband standing in rapt contemplation by the crib of his sleeping son. Silently, she watched him for a while, wondering what thoughts raced through his mind as he looked at his own flesh and blood asleep in the crib.
At last she slipped into the room and put her arm through his and asked, “What are you thinking about, dear?”
He came to with a start. “Oh, I was just wondering how in the world they can make a crib like this for $24.95.”
This is the one day of the year that we celebrate Fathers and Fatherhood. Now it does seem that Mothers and Motherhood get a bit more press coverage and hoopla than Father’s Day does but there are reasons for that.
In our day and age, men generally relate better to the concept of husband rather than father and perhaps even more so to the concept of breadwinner. But fatherhood? Most of us are clumsy, permissive, or too authoritative, or simply passive when it comes to our children.
Mothers are so much better at it and it’s their job, isn’t it?
No! It’s the job of both the mothers and fathers. Fathers, as well, make promises at the baptism of their children.
Do you promise, in reliance on the Holy Spirit and with the help of the Christian Community to do all in your power to instruct these children in the Christian faith and to lead them by your example to be Christ’s disciples?
We do, God helping us, say both mother and father.
As parents, and especially as fathers, we appreciate the help we get from the scriptures in bringing up our kids. “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.”
Our older children, especially our teenagers, are often quoted these verses. I know I was. And of course, it helps that it also is part of the Ten Commandments. “Honor your father and mother” and comes with a promise, “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
As fathers, we also appreciate what the Heidelberg Catechism has to say about this commandment.
Question. What is God’s will for you in the fifth commandment?
Answer. That I honor, love, and be loyal to my father and mother and all those in authority over me. That I obey and submit to them, as is proper when they correct and punish me, and also that I be patient with their failings for through them God chooses to rule us.
With an arsenal of Godly support like that it shouldn’t be hard to get our kids to listen and obey us. At least in theory!
I will always remember the first time in catechism class that I heard this Lord’s Day. Being your typical rebellious teenager, I resented the aura of absolute authority that my parents try to sustain. But when I read that God expects me to “be patient with their failings,”
I finally realize that God well knew that my parents didn’t know everything and weren’t always right. I still resented their authority, but I no longer believed in the perfect image they seem to try to portray. They were more human. They made mistakes. That made it easier to obey them.
As a father, I appreciate what the catechism says here. I am not infallible. My decision is not the final word. I am in a responsible position of authority, but my family is like a theocracy where even the parents follow God. It’s not a dictatorship. Our children need to “be patient with our failings.”
Paul picks up on that theme when he says, “fathers do not exasperate your children instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
“Do not provoke your children to anger,” says Paul in the letter to the Colossians.
We sometimes forget that we can sin against our children. We do not have the right to do whatever we want. Our children belong to the Lord and the Lord has given us the joy of loving them and bringing them up in such a way that they will see Christ in us.
There are a number of ways we can sin against our children.
First, by overprotection, which has the tendency of depriving the children of confidence.
Secondly, by favoritism, which sets children against each other and builds resentment.
Thirdly, by discouragement, when we say things to our children like “you are a failure,” or “you are a klutz” or “you´re no good for anything.”
Fourth, by trying to clone them, which is a failure to make allowances for the fact that the child has a right to have ideas of his or her own and need not be an exact copy of his father or mother to be a success.
Fifth, by neglect…enough said
Sixth, by bitter words and outright physical cruelty and abuse.
Paul places the positive over against the negative by continuing with the words “but rear them tenderly” – that’s the intent of the Greek word here. Calvin comments on this verse by saying, “let them be fondly cherished” as you rear them in the training and instruction of the Lord.
All the talk these days about “tough love” is nothing new to the scriptures. Here Paul is bringing both tenderness and firmness together as the ideal for a Godly father.
But there is also a vision here. There is a purpose and a goal implied.
In your training and instruction, do you know what you are aiming for? Even if you can’t put it in words, do you have a sense of what contributes to and hinders the development of your kids? This is not just any instruction and training, this is “of the Lord.”
It might be helpful to think of your kids as your disciples and your goal is to help them develop Christ-like characters. The church is committed to helping families do that very thing. Christian schools are committed to helping families do that very thing. But ultimately and first of all, it rests with the family.
There are two words here that we need to take a look at. Instruction and training.
Instruction is primarily what is taught to the child using the spoken word. In that, the church and Christian School can help extensively.
Training is primarily what is done to the child or with the child in the development of character. This is a bit more difficult and is primarily with the family. There is overlap here, of course. A teacher can train as well as instruct. A father can instruct as well as train. But their emphasis and concentration are different.
Let’s talk about a few of the things that every child needs in a godly father.
The kind of father every child needs is
A father who is saved and seeking a closer and deeper walk with God himself. The effect of that in the life of a child is that it creates in that child a hunger for God.
A father who loves unconditionally. The effect on the life of a child is that it builds into them a feeling of acceptance.
A father who listens attentively. The effect on the child is that they gain a sense of self-worth.
A father whose practice is consistent with his principles. The effect is to create honesty and truthfulness in the child.
A father who loves their mother openly. The effect is to build security in the life of their child.
A father who exercises leadership in the family. The effect is to build respect for authority.
A father who disciplines in love. The effect is to build a firm foundation and strong relationships for the future.
A father who fulfills what he promises. The fact is to build faithfulness and responsibility.
A father who confesses his concerns and his failures to his children. The effect is to create a sense of openness and respect.
A father who expresses a forgiving spirit. The effect is to create the secure feeling of being genuinely loved.
A father who expresses his gratitude. The effect is to teach children to express appreciation for the things God does for them.
A father who exercise has a servant spirit. The effect is to develop a spirit of humility.
A father who has scriptural convictions and lives by them. The effect is to motivate them to establish their convictions and to have the courage to live by them.
A father who is Guided by God’s word. The effect is to build respect for God’s word oh, it motivates them to find out what God teaches about every area of life, and it builds respect for the father.
A father who prays with and for his children. The effect is to teach the importance of prayer, and it motivates them to want to learn to pray, and it motivates those kids to be praying men and women.
A father who is constantly speaking of God in a positive manner. The effect is to build their faith tremendously.
When this is the kind of family life that is being practiced, then the promise of the scriptures also applies.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
It needs to be remembered that this is a Proverb and speaks of a normal situation. Sure, there are exceptions. Your child can reject the Lord but if he does it won’t be because you’ve instructed and trained him badly. The promise is for a normal situation. We must trust God for the exceptions.
June and Klaus, you’ve had Aamye and Megan baptized years ago when they were infants. You’ve been pretty good parents. You haven’t done anything nasty or mean to them. You’ve given them everything they’ve needed.
But you’ve been uneasy! In your own hearts, God has been working. And he’s giving you a sense that there is more to life. For you, for Megan and Amit, there must be more! And there is!
This morning we celebrate your inclusion into the family of God. That’s good for you certainly, but it is also good for your kids. You’ve begun to practice some of the things we’ve talked about this morning and your kids love it and you know it’s the right thing to do. Megan and Amy are celebrating this morning because God has given them godly parents.
God bless you. Amen.