“Fathers, don’t exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Eph. 6:4
Before bicycling, basketball was my “first love.” When playing competitively, I played with intensity and passion—yes, sometimes it went overboard!—but I played to win.
I remember one time in particular, my team was in a championship game when I made a mistake resulting in a turn over and score by our opponents giving them the lead at a crucial time in the game. Our coach called a time out…and he wasn’t very happy. Especially with me! When we huddled up on the sidelines, the coach singled me out and really gave it to me. He was as angry as I’d ever seen him, and it didn’t feel very good to me. However, once he’d said what he wanted to say, he took a pen and paper to give me specific instructions on how he wanted me to improve my play and to help us win. It paid off because we won the championship when we won that game.
Paul singles out fathers and identifies one of our tendencies as men: we often neglect our responsibility as fathers, and the consequence is that our children suffer because of it. We are often absent from the home; if and when we are present we are often preoccupied with our own thoughts and interests. Don’t do it! Take seriously your responsibility as a father. Invest time with your children by training and instructing them. Here are some tips for nurturing your children:
The Bible—Get an age appropriate Bible for your kids and read it to your children. While you’re at it, recommit yourself to reading the Bible for yourself. You should be consulting your Bible so often that your children catch you at it on occasion. When your children ask questions, tie your answers to what you’ve learned from the Bible. [For my age appropriate recommendations see below.]
Your Words—What your tongue! Be careful that you speak words of affirmation, acceptance, and affection to your children. Yes, you will need to correct your children’s behavior, but guard against criticizing them as persons. For every correction, give ten praises. You will bless your children when you do.
Your Example—Know this, dads: Little eyes are watching you! They hear what you say, but sometimes that is drowned out by a life that doesn’t match your words. Once your children have heard you read about “children obey your parents” but they see you cheat on parking tickets or breaking traffic laws what lesson are they learning? Tell your children, “I love you” but you never spend time on the floor with them playing with their toys what message are they hearing? Your example has to demonstrate what you say.
Dads, it may not feel good to be singled out, but it’s true. We need to hear the correction of the Bible and we need to let God change us to become the kinds of fathers he wants us to be. Moms, you’re not “off the hook.” These truths are as applicable to you as well! Fortunately, God comes along side parents and models for us what we expects of us as parents: He trains and instructs us through Scripture, he speaks to us through his Spirit, and he’s shown us the perfect example through our Lord Jesus Christ.
May God grow us all to be nurturing and caring…just like him!
Scott Corwin, Pastor