All posts by Steve Maxwell

Steve, husband to Teri for over 40 years, dad to eight and grandpa to eight, desires to encourage homeschool dads to spend time in the Word, disciple their children in the ways of the Lord, use their time wisely, and be men of God. His five home-school graduate sons are now wage-earning adults, and three have purchased their homes debt-free before marriage. He has been writing e-mails for Christian dads since 1990. Steve is co-author of of a number of books, including Managers of Their Homes, and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts. Steve also wrote Buying a House Debt-Free: Equipping Your Son, Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family and Redeeming the Time. Find out more information on Steve Maxwell and his books.

Dwelling on Imperfections?

Sit back, close your eyes, and daydream for a minute. I know you can’t read with your eyes closed! However, think for a moment about your wife. What thoughts are going through your mind? No one else can truly know what you are thinking, but let’s take a few minutes and be completely honest.

Here are the pictures that come to my mind. I see a wife with a child on each side and one sprawled across her lap, as she reads stories to them each afternoon. I see her on a “search and destroy mission” as she crisscrosses the living room, picking up a few remaining toys and socks after the children are in bed. I see her lying down with her back flat for a few minutes to ease the pain so she can get back up and keep going. I see a wife who delights to give her husband a backrub every night when we are in bed on time. The pictures whirl by as God brings to mind the gift He has given me in my wife.

Now what emotions do we experience as a result of the pictures? Peace? Love? Tenderness? Joy? Gratefulness? Are there any negative feelings? There can be, as most wives are not perfect. How do we deal with this? Do we let ourselves ever dwell on something negative about our spouse? The answer should be a resounding, NO!!!!!!!

About six months ago, I did just that. There was a trivial imperfection in my sweet wife, and I allowed myself to dwell on it. Whenever I saw her, I would take up that thought. I began to feel sorry for myself and be judgmental of her. I knew it was wrong, but I continued to do it anyway. Soon she knew something was wrong and asked me about it. I told her it was my problem, and she could pray for me. Sharing the details with her would have been hurtful and not helped in any way. Her prayers were what I needed.

By God’s timing, our church’s men’s meeting came, and I was eager to go. During a time of sharing, I confessed to the men that my heart was wrong toward Teri, and I needed prayer. I was allowing wrong thoughts, but had not been able to break out of it. As is the custom during these fellowship times, the men gathered around me and prayed for me. The result–God totally freed me from my thoughts, and I had wonderful peace on the way home that night. When caught in a trap, if we are unable to break loose, we ask for help.

If we aren’t willing to ask for help, our marriage and family security are in grave danger. “Perfect” marriages have been broken due to that very weakness in the husband (or wife, for that matter). Yes, it is a weakness. Had I been stronger, I would have chosen not to think about a slight fault in my wife, but instead thought of all her wonderful qualities. Think about it. What good could ever be accomplished by dwelling on some fault in a spouse? Hebrews 12:15 warns us that a root of bitterness grows up into evil. “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” If we allow even a small amount of bitterness to be in our mind, it will always grow. It can be over nothing (mine was). However, it soon won’t be small, and we will begin to look at everything our spouse does in a very negative light. It will kill a marriage.

So what is the point? Let us be on guard to not fall into the trap that has shipwrecked many a marriage. We made a vow before God to love and cherish our wives, not to dwell on any shortcomings. We should be crying out to God to work on our own failures. We don’t want to be a stumbling block for our wives and give them opportunity to dwell on our faults. Ugh, now that is a scary thought!

Living with No Regrets

What if tonight, in a dream, God tells you He is giving you one more year to live? How would that affect the way you interact with your family? How would you spend your time? Is there anything you would do differently? It is my desire that I would live each day as if it were my last.

It seems one area of deathbed remorse is sorrow over things a person wishes they had done differently. I have teenage memories of a great desire to live my life with no regrets. I’m sure that watching my parents divorce after twenty years of marriage might have had something to do with that. Can you imagine facing death without any major regrets? I know we can’t change what has already happened, but we can attempt to make restitution for the past and live from now on with renewed purpose.

What if each of us were to live the next year as if it was our last? How would we live it? I know some non-Christians who would try to pack all of the pleasure they could into the time they had left. Hopefully, none of us would do that, but it can be the desire of the flesh. I know a teenager who had cancer, and his parents were letting him fly many places so he could experience as much as possible before he died. Is that the meaning of life, to see as much as possible and have wonderful experiences? If that were true, we would not hear of so many people with great wealth being miserable, and eventually taking their life physically, or by drugs and alcohol.

Frankly, I know quite a few dads who live their lives seeking all the pleasure and recreation they can. The highlight of their week is the football game, or some other sports event on TV. You can quickly tell what is most important to someone by what they will most readily talk about. When compared to the father’s pleasure, children are often regarded no higher than pets; they’re okay to have around as long as they don’t get in the way of the dad’s other interests. I love the attitude of a homeschooling family who has moved on. One night after a meeting, while the mom was patiently putting what seemed like the child’s seventeenth layer of winter dress on, she exclaimed with deep sincerity, “I feel so unworthy of the honor of serving these children!”

I’m not saying our life is to revolve around our children. However, we do need to die to our own selfish pleasures and center our life on the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of the law, which the following verse refers to, let us substitute Jesus Christ, Who is the fulfillment of the law, and see how we need to live. “And thou shalt teach Jesus diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of Jesus when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:7 modified).

We share with our children what is important to us. If sports are important, then they will be important to our children. They will likely become couch potatoes and neglectors of their families. If pleasure and recreation take prominence, our children will likely be slothful and gluttons. If we are “religious” only on Sunday morning, live for ourselves, and don’t demonstrate our love and excitement for Jesus, then our children will likely consider us hypocrites and reject Christ.

Do we look at our children as inconveniences or as blessed opportunities? Are we thinking that they are our heritage, and we only have a very limited amount of time to leave an impression on them? We are leaving an impression on them now, but what kind of impression is it? Do we like what we see in our children’s lives? They resemble us. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives, however long or short that may be. Let us live each day as if it were our last. NO REGRETS!

Standing for What Is Right

It is hard to believe I’m actually awake! After twenty years of going away to work, I now have my office in our home. Often I will hear a quiet knocking on the door. I open it, and a little one will come in. After a hug and updating me on the latest news, the child is gone.

Years ago, God put the desire in my heart to work, vocationally, out of our home, but I saw no further direction. So we waited and waited. We would pray, “Lord, we believe You are giving us this desire. We will wait until You show us clearly what to do.” Then, all of a sudden three years ago, we were given the leading to launch a business. What was strange was that I was working full time. I sure didn’t have time to do any real work in a business we would start. There was barely time to put together the paperwork to set it up.

After our oldest son graduated from high school, we were able to have him contract out through our new business. God had us put our business in place prior to our needing it. It was the perfect vehicle for his contracting. However, we felt that wasn’t going to be the only purpose for the business. I still wanted to be home working full time for the business, but I clearly believed God was saying “not now.”

On the twenty-first of January 1997, God led me to take a stand at my job that we thought might cost me that job. Unfortunately, we were not prepared to be without an income, but we knew God would provide if that was His will. To our total amazement, the potential of losing the job dragged on all year. One day I would think I was going to be fired, and the next it would quiet down!

It was such a wonderful time of learning to rest and trust in my Lord Jesus’ care. I can’t remember one night of losing sleep over it. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, or that I had my head in the clouds. There was just peace about it and thankfulness that Christ was dealing with the situation.

The next thing we knew, they were no longer talking about firing me. Now there was talk of laying me off. The funny thing was that this was great news since there would be some financial consideration with a layoff as opposed to being fired. We had been praying, “Lord, just make it clear to us that You really want me to leave.” What could be clearer than to have your employer lay you off? Right?

Then my employer decided to give me a choice between another job and a layoff. This was not according to our plan at all! God was supposed to make it absolutely clear by not giving us any room for a decision. This new twist brought some real earnestness to our prayers. Finally, God gave Teri and me full peace that I was to leave and come home.

I stand in awe of how the Lord has directed over the last year. It would be very easy to laugh as I look up the road ahead. I have told some that I feel like I’m “out of the boat” right now. I find my competitors and other challenges to be the “waves.” However, as long as I keep my eyes on the Lord Jesus, I have real joy and peace.

I know some of you may face similar challenges. My encouragement to you is: don’t be concerned with your perceived consequences to a decision, but look only to the Lord for His direction. That is the only thing that matters and will enable you to be calm in the midst of a storm. If I did not have the clear assurance I’m here because God wants me here, I would be troubled indeed. Our prayer has been and will continue to be, “Lord, what do You want us to do that will bring You the most glory?”

Faults

It is quite interesting how additional time with the family, such as may happen around holiday time, can reveal some rough edges. I love having more time with the children, but when I do I find I become more aware of particular areas of need in each family member’s life. This year it was one person’s faults, in particular. Unfortunately, once that happens, it can almost be a distraction as you zero in on him.

The person I was most aware of, unfortunately, was me. Don’t you just hate it when it is your problem? I would much rather it was someone else’s problem and not mine. The question always before me is, have I demonstrated the character of Christ in my home as God has called me to? “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Picture in your mind the Lord Jesus having a family. I see Him being patient and gentle, while training and maintaining order in the home. I don’t think He would raise His voice when correcting, even if there was repeated disobedience. He would not have a “tone” in His voice. Oh, how I yearn to be like Christ!

Have you ever noticed that when a person deeply loves someone or something, certain things happen? It is very easy to illustrate. Look at the average person who “loves” the Kansas City Chiefs football team. They dress in red and know everything about the team. They talk about the Chiefs and even long to be “with” them at the next game.

Honestly, as I think back over the last several weeks, I feel that other things have crowded out my love of the Lord. The symptoms are there. I haven’t been as careful to have quality devotions as before. My Scripture memorization has slipped, and my focus on Christ has lessened. I’m fooling myself if I think there won’t be an impact to my ability to be Christ-like in the home. So what do I do?

The third chapter of Colossians is the perfect prescription for my ailments, especially verse 12. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering.” Wow! Just to apply that one verse alone would be incredible. Unfortunately, even if I could obediently do all that, my heart is the problem. However, that is what Christ does; He changes my heart. It is Christ dwelling in me that enables this verse to become alive and active in my life. I must love my Lord with all my heart and clothe myself as He would (the armor of God in Ephesians 6). I should talk about Jesus more, and not only long to be with Him, but choose to spend more time with Him each day.

The whole section in Colossians from verse 12 to 17 is so good. It is the “tune-up” I need for my walk with my Lord. How about you? Are you demonstrating Christ in your home? If not, you will be discouraged trying to do it in your own strength. It just doesn’t work! Jesus Christ changes lives. He is the One Who enables us to be the dads our families need us to be.

Posted in: Dad's Corner

Raising Teens

I expect most have heard that a child will go through a rebellious stage in their teen years. If that is true, have you ever wondered how God could require in 1 Timothy 3:4 that a church elder, “ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity”? It hardly seems fair for God to require this as a qualification, and then put in human nature the flaw that causes all teenagers to go through rebellion.

It is just like God to require a man to know how to shepherd his family well in order to be entrusted with a position of authority in the church. Since it is a requirement for serving in the church, we can be sure that a rebellious teen is the responsibility of the parent.

How can we avoid rebellion from happening in our families? Most of us know someone we respect who has had a rebellious child. They seem to be a good parent; they seem to love and serve the Lord, yet the child is a rebel. How can this be?

As we read that section in 1 Timothy 3, we see many tests for the would-be elder. What sort of reputation does he have? Is he the husband of one wife? Does he keep himself from alcohol? Does he know the Scriptures? Is he hospitable? Is he gentle and not quarrelsome? Does he love money? These all address his character. He is to be above reproach in his private life, and that is a qualification for church leadership. As listed earlier, even the behavior of his children are part of his credentials. So we see that his example in the home is critical and a litmus test of whether he is good for the church.

I believe the father’s example and leadership are the first two legs of a three-legged stool that are necessary in raising children who will not rebel. They are vital in the home. Interestingly, I think these two legs are easier than the third leg, even though the third leg is unbelievably easy. However, that third essential aspect is often neglected and left on the shelf. It is available to every Christian and will not cost us a cent. When a crisis comes, it is one of the first things used. Unfortunately, due to it not being used consistently, it is often quite ineffective. It is possibly the greatest true measure of a Christian. Do you know what it is? It’s prayer.

You see, Jesus Christ changes lives. Prayer will, somehow, bring the power of the Lord Jesus into a person’s life to change his heart, as nothing else can. We read in Matthew 17 that when the disciples could not cast out a demon, Jesus said, “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). I’m not saying that a rebel has a demon, but I believe this verse teaches that prayer and fasting must be used when the heart is not changing. Whether it is our children or our spouse, Jesus Christ works in hearts.

Years ago I was very troubled over how our sons’ participation in team sports was stealing our family time. I finally told Teri we needed to quit team sports after the season was over. Teri and I both loved to watch the boys play ball, as they were very good. She just couldn’t agree to it. I decided that I would begin to cry out to the Lord to change her heart. Notice I wasn’t asking God to change her heart due to a selfish motive. I wanted to allow more time so we could be in the Bible in the evenings. In a very short amount of time, God changed her heart and the rest is history!

Earnest, intense, ongoing, sincere prayer is, I believe, the missing weapon of many fathers. I think that if our prayer life is what it should be, God will likely reveal problems early enough that they may be “nipped in the bud.”

Dads, do we pray? Do we cry out to the Lord on behalf of our children and wives? Do we know how to pray? Do we love prayer? Can we afford not to?

I believe this “three-legged stool” is why God justly requires obedient children as a qualification for being an elder.

A Dad’s Right

Have you ever had someone owe you something that they refused to give you? It can be pretty frustrating. Perhaps it is even something you really need! Moreover, it is ten times worse if that someone is close enough that you encounter them frequently. This is true, in varying degrees, for every one of us right now. What is it?

I marvel at how the creative genius of God designed the institution of marriage. God placed two opposites together in a lifelong covenant that is designed to represent the relationship of Christ and His bride, the church. The purpose of that union is to bring God glory and raise up godly seed (Malachi 2:15).

Into the man and woman, He placed intense inner needs, which can never be circumvented. Women marry for love and companionship. Men need respect. However, what is the husband to do if he isn’t receiving the respect he needs (Ephesians 5:22-33)?

Have you ever noticed a situation in the news or maybe at work, where either a group of people or an individual feels their/his rights are being violated? They will demand, get angry, petition for new laws, and do just about anything in trying to get this injustice resolved. The end of this militant campaign is that they are the targets of contempt by the others whom they expected to right the wrong. They appear to be a bunch of whiners and complainers.

So, dads, what do we do if we are not receiving the respect we deserve? First off, we obviously don’t turn to another woman. After a while, that other person would realize why our wives don’t respect us, not to mention we would be breaking a covenant. I believe the first thing would be to cry out to God and ask Him why we aren’t being respected. I think the answer will surprise us. We are receiving more than the respect we deserve! It’s true in my life.

Let God show us our failings, bad decisions, and tasks left undone. If He doesn’t show us enough, then we can ask our wives, as I’m sure they can give us some more ideas. The result–we will realize that we don’t deserve the respect God says our wives are to provide. Yes, it is humbling, but it will take the wind out of our sails and the fight out of our speech.

Of the groups or people we observe, the ones who are determined to fulfill their responsibilities and act according to the respect they desire are the ones who will begin to receive it. Maybe this respect is not fully the amount they think they deserve, but who among us is paid what we feel we deserve!

Now what does that have to do with home education? Everything! With our wives taking so much time and emotional energy to teach our children at home for us, they are under great stress. We will have additional responsibilities when we take on home education. Our wives become very discouraged when we neglect our responsibilities. Trust me, I know from personal experience!

Specifically, I believe we should first apply ourselves to what our wives need most, and that is love. Just as we often don’t deserve respect, they won’t deserve the full amount of love God has commanded us to give them. However, that is what is needed. It is ironic that with the additional responsibilities home education brings, our wives could be even less lovable. However, we will never love our wives if we allow ourselves to think about their perceived faults; they will never respect us if they think about ours. We are to give them what God says they need and expect nothing in return.

I believe when we concentrate on our responsibilities, of which the primary one is loving our wife, God is free to open her eyes to respecting us like she never has before. The result: peace at home, mama feeling loved, dad being respected, and the children learning and growing in a healthy environment.

Waiting on God

During our evening family devotion, we are currently reading about God freeing Israel from Egyptian bondage. One main question was brought to mind the other night. Why did God take so long to free His people? Couldn’t He have sent Moses to Pharaoh and said, “We are out of here tomorrow, Pharaoh,” and then had the Israelites march right out?

He could have made Pharaoh powerless to stop them as they left the very next day, no plagues, no miracles, and not a single death. Surely, we have all wondered at times why God chooses to do things in a particular way.

In January, I told my boss I could not do what they were asking me to do. It would violate my conscience as a Christian. I fully expected to be let go. There have been many interactions since then, over this, but nothing has happened yet. I have continued to stand my ground. Two weeks ago, I met with the company president and told him I thought my position ought to be eliminated. No one should be asked to do the things they were requiring of me. The company president gave my boss until the end of the month to resolve the situation. So will it be resolved by then? Only the Lord knows.

However, don’t we all have situations that are similar? They just drag on longer than we feel they ought to, or the final outcome isn’t what we think it should be. Maybe you have chosen a direction for the family, and the “troops” are murmuring and complaining. Certainly Moses knew how that felt!

As we read the account of Moses, it seems there was an important lesson God had for him to learn. The same would be true for each of us as we lead our families. When God gave Moses instructions in the desert, Moses revealed his problem. He said he couldn’t do what God asked because of not being well spoken. Think how ridiculous that is. Moses was telling the sovereign God of the universe that he was unable to do what God asked of him. God, Who knew Moses’ every strength and weakness, and Who knew Moses better than he knew himself, knew Moses could do the task.

I don’t think Moses was just making excuses. If this had been the case, he would have kept coming up with fresh excuses when the first one was eliminated. I also believe God would have dealt with him differently if he had been simply making an excuse. Therefore, it was possible that Moses was telling God about a true shortcoming in his life. However, this reveals whom Moses was trusting. Himself! At this point in this new relationship with the Lord, Moses had not learned to trust that God would work in his life and use His power to accomplish His will.

I believe one of the reasons for the long, drawn-out process of delivering His people from Pharaoh was to teach Moses to rely on God. Moses–and we, as well–must see that God will enable to be accomplished what He instructs to be done. God will never tell us to do something that we are unable to do.

After the Israelite leaders accused Moses and Aaron of making “our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh” (Exodus 5:21), Moses demonstrated the key to our success as fathers. Immediately after he spoke with the leaders of the people, in Exodus 5:22 we see, “And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said. . . .” Our response must be the same as his response; we must first cry out to our Lord.

When we don’t understand, when we need direction, when we lack the means to accomplish our responsibilities (i.e., to raise up godly children), we must go to Him in prayer. We must pour out our hearts to Him Who enables, Who strengthens, Who gives peace. Moses was transformed into a man who knew God and relied on Him. May that be true for each of us.

Encouragement for Dads

I wonder how many of you dads might actually look at this article. If you are like me, you have a stack of items that you need to take time to read, and this would be one more on “the heap.” However, it is my sincere desire to challenge and benefit you in ways that the other items crying for your time likely will not.

One reason this content will be different is that I truly care about your success as a home-educating father. It is a fact that how well or how poorly you do your job as a home-educating father will have impact on many future generations (assuming normal progression). Either your children will be well educated, responsible, Christian men and women or . . . they won’t! I believe that the primary reason for success or failure of the children is the father. That is why we all need encouragement!

Where do men usually get this type of encouragement? From their parents? Well, maybe sometimes. From their friends? Hopefully, but often not. From their pastor? Occasionally if you are really blessed, as I am, but not usually. From our wives? Sometimes, but unfortunately, that is extremely difficult for them to do without sounding like they are nagging.

Families today need a father who is a leader–not a boss, but a leader. A father leader is more concerned about the members of his family than himself. He is someone who has deep biblical convictions. He is a man who has passion behind his convictions and knows why he chooses a course for his family. Yes, in fact, he is a man who would lay down his life for his family.

I believe one of the most crucial questions a father must answer is, “Do I own total responsibility for raising my children?” It isn’t my wife’s job; she is my helpmeet. She is there to help implement the goals and direction I set for the family. Do we feel the awesome weight of that responsibility? I’m not trying to lay guilt on you, just openly discuss the reality of our responsibility as God designed it. The CEO of a company has others who help him, but all of the responsibility is his. He is the one who answers for the success or failure of the company.

The most popular route for fathers is to become engrossed in our jobs and leave our wives with the “little” things. However, which one will matter on the other side of eternity, whether we got the promotion or raised men and women of God?

God wants men who feel the weight of their responsibility and, therefore, realize the incredible blessing in a wife who will pour out herself into her children. Our wives are one in a million; may we be one-in-a-million fathers!

A Business Lunch

Moms–PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS!! It is for your husbands only.

Friday I was invited to go to lunch with one of my suppliers. If that were you, would you go? Next, let me tell you it was a saleswoman. Would you still go? Mixed lunches are the accepted norm these days and so are close working relationships. Might someone who didn’t participate be looked on as an “old prude”?

Let each one of us ask ourselves whether we believe we have been faithful to our wives. Now let’s imagine our wives asking themselves if they feel we have been faithful to them. Do you think our wives’ answers would match our answers? What if they knew our thoughts; would they change their decision?

Jesus defined adultery as lusting for another woman. So a definition of faithfulness would likely be even narrower than just that of adultery. We can be sure that our wives would rather they are the ones we are spending time with, no matter what the reason. (Shouldn’t that be our feeling as well?) After many observations, I believe that individual (even small-group) time spent with women other than our wives is like playing with fire. I know this statement can evoke some interesting responses, but I am convinced it is true. Let me illustrate this further.

If David, a man after God’s own heart, could fall into the trap of adultery because of being where he shouldn’t have been, then why do we, who are less spiritual, feel we couldn’t fall into a similar trap? Homes are broken and lives damaged all because of what reason? Could it ever be worth that? The idea that we can’t become attached to someone else is a lie from hell, with history bearing witness. It is like playing Russian roulette with six rounds loaded!

Let’s assume we are all moral giants and totally impervious to physical temptations. (I know it’s impossible, but for the sake of my example please stay with me.) In 1 Thessalonians 5:22, we are instructed to abstain from even the appearance of evil. I told the saleswoman I couldn’t go as I have determined not to go to lunch with other women. Before I could continue, she laughed and said she wouldn’t bite and could even bring a male sales engineer along. I explained that with that aside, what if someone who knew Teri and me saw us together? What might they think? She exclaimed, “Wow, do you really mean that?” I said I did. She understood and thought that was great.

I believe God will honor our commitment to taking no chances. Another example. If heroin were legal, would you try it? Why not? Well, one reason is because we know how addicting it can be, and we don’t know how much we have to take to get hooked. So we would be crazy to try it. In that light, how did we fall in love with our wives? For me, I spent time with Teri, she became my friend (and still is), and then I fell in love with her. So why would we expect not to be in danger of becoming attracted to ANY other woman we spent much time with? From David until now, men daily are trapped. Could you be next?

Our wives are home caring for our children. We know they are as bright as, if not brighter than, the women we meet in our vocation. Shouldn’t they be the ones we go to lunch with? If childcare is a problem, then we could go home and let them go out with another homeschooling mom to show them how much we appreciate their ministry to our children.

Men, we must not delight in the company of any woman other than our own wives. Not only are our wives worth our faithfulness and adoration, but also, we are commanded to love them. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). Let us be men of God, committed to our wives.

The Cost of Training Our Children

What does it cost you to train your children? If asked that, I imagine we would most often think of what our curriculum costs us per year. Certainly, there is a financial aspect to home education, but I’m wondering how much we dads are investing personally in our children. If money is our main investment, will our influence be any greater than a dad whose children go to the government schools? Might our children turn out as bankrupt in character and training as most children these days who are educated outside the home?

In my work, I will encounter many fathers who love their children and yet send them off to school. They feel that is the American way; the job of the schools is to educate the children; dads provide the money and the home. Unfortunately, even if the school is successful in teaching the children facts, that is a far cry from preparing them for life.

Will the memorization of facts prepare a person for life and parenting? I think we would agree it wouldn’t. That is where training comes in, first teaching pertinent facts and then practicing them. We dads have many opportunities to work with our children to reinforce, by practice, the application of what they are learning.

However, all of that takes time. Most of us have heard others recite the popular, self-consoling lie, “I have to give my children quality time, since my job doesn’t allow quantity time.” From what I’ve observed, additional work hours are usually a result of the dad’s desire to get ahead. The extra time is not required. It also can be that there is trouble at home, and it is a convenient escape for Dad to bury himself in his work. It is a matter of priority. Is the proper training of the children most important to the dad, or is it his job? If the job is so demanding on its own, then it’s time to get a new job. God will bless proper priorities, and wrong ones won’t be blessed. Simple!*

Jesus said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” That is a constant challenge to me. As the shepherd of my family, am I laying aside my pleasures for the needs of my family? Am I willing to sacrifice my time for myself if there are needs in the family that haven’t been met yet? Do I set the example for my wife in serving my family? For most, work is the easy part, but serving at home and working on character issues are much harder.

I am ashamed of how often I fail regarding the right response to the above questions. However, I serve a God Who daily gives grace. May we be like the Lord Jesus and daily lay down our lives for our families.

*(I’m not referring to families where the dad has to work longer hours just so the mom can stay at home and teach the children. These are families who are content to live in a modest home and drive old cars for the sake of right priorities. I’m referring to others who have made wrong choices with what money they have. Often they drive new cars and buy new homes. I want to differentiate between those who make bad choices and those who are truly in need.)

Posted in: Dad's Corner