The best way to be a good father to your children is to be a good husband to their mother.
Amid hectic schedules and frazzled lifestyles, daily worship allows the father to keep short accounts in the family. Arguments or disagreements cannot long remain unresolved when the family joins daily to hear the Scriptures read and commented on.
For the Puritans the husband was the family pastor, responsible for channeling the family into religion, taking them to church, catechizing the children, teaching them the faith, examining the family after the sermon to check retention and understanding, filling any gaps along the way, leading family worship and setting a godly example in all manners of living.
The person in your house that claims your first and nearest attention, is, undoubtedly, your wife; seeing you are to love her, even as Christ hath loved the Church… Next to your wife are your children; immortal spirits whom God hath, for a time, entrusted to your care, that you may train them up in all holiness, and fit them for the enjoyment of God in eternity. This is a glorious and important trust; seeing one soul is of more value than all the world beside. Every child, therefore, you are to watch over with the utmost care, that, when you are called to give an account of each to the Father of spirits, you may give your accounts with joy and not with grief.
The common denominator between success and failure seems to be the spiritual depth and sincerity of the parents, especially the spiritual depth and sincerity of the father. There seems to be a strong correlation between the faith, commitment, and sincerity of the family’s head and the spiritual vitality of His adult children.
Jonathan Edwards was a zealous pastor who never forgot for a moment that his own family was a part of that flock, and that he had been appointed to be a shepherd to these sheep also, those within his own fold. He was ever concerned for the salvation of the souls of men, all men, not overlooking those closest to him. He never for one moment assumed that his own children were of the elect. George Perry Norris describes him as a “tender brooding parent.”
Biblically speaking, there are no exceptions or exemptions for a father when it comes to overseeing family responsibilities. This does not mean, of course, that he is to do all the work, but ultimately he is responsible to make sure that all members of his family are loved, cared for, encouraged, and taught God’s truth. In turn, he is responsible for each person to function properly (according to age levels) within this God-ordained social unit.
Men are never manlier than when they are tender with their children – whether holding a baby in their arms, loving their grade-schooler, or hugging their teenager or adult children.
Some fathers exasperate their children by being overly strict and controlling. They need to remember that rearing children is like holding a wet bar of soap – too firm a grasp and it shoots from your hand, too loose a grip and it slides away. A gentle but firm hold keeps you in control… We ought to begin our fatherhood by holding the tiny helpless bar snugly, but as it grows, gradually and wisely loosen our grip.
Jonathan Edwards is described as a husband and father whose care and oversight of his family was thoroughly spiritual. He took seriously anything that troubled his children, and would save the evening hours to be spent in prayer and close fellowship with his family. Primarily concerned for the condition of their souls, Edwards taught each of his children to earnestly seek salvation, “to have God our friend, and to be united to Christ.”
Every dad begins fatherhood clothed in garments of praise [Proverbs 17:6]. It usually happens naturally and effortlessly. He possesses an authority that is both inexplicable and awesome. For this reason, few things are more important to a boy – or a man – than a touch, or a smile, or a word of encouragement from Dad.
If you fail, father, to teach your son to fear God, the devil will teach him to hate God. If you fail to teach your son to guard his mind, the devil will gladly teach him to have an open mind. If you fail to teach your son to obey his parents, the devil will teach him to rebel and break his parent’s heart. If you fail to teach your son to select his companions, the devil will gladly choose them for him. If you fail to teach your son to control his body, the devil will teach him to give it over completely to lust. If you fail to teach your son to enjoy the marriage partner that God has given him, the devil will teach him to destroy the marriage. If you fail to teach your son to watch his words, the devil will fill his mouth with filth. If you fail to teach your son to pursue his work, the devil will make his laziness a tool of hell. If you fail to teach your son to manage his money, the devil will teach him to waste it on riotous living. And if you fail to teach your son to love his neighbor, the devil will gladly teach him to love only himself.
Fathers, leave your self-conscious masculine dignity outside the home. You will never be more a man than when tenderly addressing your family in endearing terms (Kent and Barbara Hughes).
A famous cigarette billboard pictures a curly-headed, bronze-faced, muscular macho with a cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth. The sign says, “Where a man belongs.” That is a lie. Where a man belongs is at the bedside of his children, leading in devotion and prayer. Where a man belongs is leading his family to the house of God. Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God seeking vision and direction for the family.
A good father would rather be seen unfavorable, than compromise what he knows to be right for his child’s well-being. It’s more about leadership than friendship. Greater trust is then given to the father as time proves the father not perfect, but often wise with his directives. And greater reception of the directives is received when children know it comes from a man who truly loves them, has their best interest in mind and practices what he preaches because that is the direction he is pursuing.
In one sense we must demand the respect of our children as God commands it. But in another sense, we desire that we should earn the respect of our children. How do we do that? We trust them with the appropriate levels of responsibility. We guide, but permit them to make some of their own decisions. We pick them up when they fall. We commit ourselves to their mother. We do what we say. We confess our failures, asking for their forgiveness and admitting we do not have all the answers. We make them a priority with our time. We provide the proper boundaries. We protect them physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. We show that we believe in them and are pleased to have them as our children.
As is so often the case, when we live coram Deo, before the face of God, the thinking of the world gets turned upside down. My freedom consists in large part in being free of the lies of the culture, in believing God’s truth when all around me stumble in the darkness. I need not believe that children are a burden nor that my headship in my home is a heinous crime against equality. I need believe neither that manliness consists of owning a powerful truck, nor that manliness is having the power to blubber like a baby. Because God the Father has adopted me as His son, I am no longer a slave to folly. Because I am free, I no longer believe the lies of my former father, the father of lies. Because the shackles have been loosed and the blinders removed, I know I need to fear no man, but God alone. Our Captain and King has freed us so that we might be free men, and such are men indeed.
It is the father’s responsibility to make the child know that he is deeply in love with the child’s mother. There is no good reason why all evidence of affection should be hidden or carried on in secret. A child who grows up with the realization that his parents are lovers has a wonderful basis of stability.
It is not a father’s job to teach his daughter how to be a lady, but it is his job to show his daughter how a lady should be treated.
1. If both your parents worshipped with you regularly while you were growing up, there’s an 80% likelihood that you’ll worship God regularly as an adult.
2. If only your mother worshipped regularly with you, there’s only a 30% probability that you’ll worship regularly as an adult.
3. If only your father worshipped regularly with you, the likelihood that you’ll worship regularly as an adult increases to 70% percent!
Fathers have an enormous impact on their children’s faith and values. One of your most important ministries is worshipping with your kids!
The Christian father is really an instrument in God’s hand. The whole process of instruction and discipline must be that which God commands and which He administers, so that His authority should be brought into constant and immediate contact with the mind, heart, and conscience of children. The human father should never present himself as the ultimate authority to determine truth and duty. It is only by making God the teacher and ruler on whose authority everything is done that the goals of education can best be attained.