Wouldn’t it be wonderful if being godly parents guaranteed godly children? I believe that most Christian parents consider themselves to be godly. Therefore, Christians go about their normal “godly” lives and expect their children to be godly, just like they are.
Here’s an intriguing example illustrating the fallacy of our thinking that way. The very good king Hezekiah and the (believed-to-be) godly wife Hephzibah were responsible for bearing the most wicked king. Their son, Manasseh reined 55 years, the longest of all the kings.
I plead with you to make your most pressing focus—the cry of your heart—to be raising your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Don’t assume it will just happen.
Brother, if that isn’t your lived-out passion, you are headed for a train-wreck of a heartbreak. Then it is too late.
“Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21:1-2).
Do you have fond memories of what you left behind in the “good ole days?” “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26).
Love of the sought after, popular things of this world is offensive to the Lord Jesus (Matthew 16:23). The cure isn’t just saying “no” to the appealing things of the world, but following Jesus wholeheartedly. Pursue a relationship with Him that makes the world look like dung. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
The sting of the world is bitter, but there are no regrets when we (and our family) unashamedly follow Jesus with everything we have.
If your wife rated you, how would you do?
– Decisively leads our family in pursuit of the Lord Jesus.
– Makes decisions consistent with our children becoming dynamic followers of the Lord Jesus.
– Speaks of the Lord Jesus’ working in his life frequently with the family.
– Makes decisions consistent with his owning the responsibility of the family’s spiritual direction.
– Makes decisions consistent with his owning the responsibility of the children’s behavior.
– Sets the example and inspires our children to be diligent workers as they prepare for the future.
“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27).
Do you struggle with time to:
- Read your Bible daily in the morning
- Have Family Bible time
- Spend time with your wife
- Spend time with your children
- Increase the value of your vocational skills
Someone screams, “The house is on fire. Get out!” Whatever you were too busy doing before, now means nothing. You have a new priority that produces action. Brother, your problem isn’t time but misplaced priorities.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:33-34).
The cat sat against the wall in the hallway—head fixed, eyes intent on Teri as she attached the carpet head on the vacuum. I was fascinated watching those eyes and the one ear that never moved, as if riveted on Teri.
Arnold obviously uses his ears as a warning system. One ear was trained on her, while the other one, alternated one second on Teri and then one second down the hall behind him. Back and forth, back and forth, he was ensuring he was safe from sudden attack from behind. Arnold had lived outside before we took him in, and his survival depended on how alert he was to threats.
I wonder how many dads are that watchful for spiritual danger. Satan wants your family. Are we merrily strolling through life without a care, or do we hold our family’s spiritual wellbeing as precious? I grieve when I learn what children in professing Christian families are reading and seeing. Some examples would be books such as Harry Potter and “classics” that are wicked and evil, but justified because they are literature. In addition, there are horrific, violent video games and movies galore. Dads I plead with you: cherish your children’s souls.
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
We ate Saturday evening dinner at my oldest son Nathan’s house. He and Melanie have five children from 10 down to almost 2 with another one on the way. The children had baths that afternoon, and after Bible time it was apparently fingernail cutting time. I watched with interest as Melanie cut the little’s nails. She used nail scissors and deftly moved from finger to finger. Actually, it reminded me of a craftsman, due to how smooth and quick she was.
There are many skills that moms acquire and utilize throughout their days with the children, and that spurred my thinking to dads. We typically think of dads’ skills in regard to providing for their families. Could that be wood, hay, and stubble compared to the gold skills of discipling the children?
Are you a craftsman when it comes to leading an interactive, engaging Bible time or having heart-to-heart talks with your children? Can you artfully apply Scripture to the precious, teachable moments that come along as you strive to reach the soul and not just attain outward conformity? How committed are you to bringing up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord that they might love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength?
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
At my suggestion a man repair or build something himself, I have often heard, “I couldn’t do that. My dad never taught me how.” Pardon my candor, but so what! Anyone of average mental and physical ability can do just about anything he is determined to do.
From my observation, initiative is usually lacking when “I can’t” is the excuse. This lack is generally due to a serious case of “couchpotatoitis” combined with “workaphobia” and “learnaphobia.” The symptoms become even more obvious in the children of the stricken parent.
The good news/bad news, is that it is curable, but it is a rough, tough road. Feed the good appetites, and starve the bad. Cultivate a sense of pleasure and excitement from accomplishing things.
Read these books with your children: Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family and Buying a House Debt-Free. Discuss the books, and give your children a vision for an adulthood of enjoying work and being debt free.
Most of you have mortgages. Do you like that? Why not help your sons buy their first houses debt free as my five sons have? (I don’t say that to brag but so you know it is possible. Come on. If we can do it, you can.)
“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction” (Proverbs 24:30-32).
Likely you have heard someone in a disagreement exclaim, “Just whose side are you on?” where loyalty was being questioned. Maybe those have been your words or at least your thoughts. Maybe (hopefully not), your wife sided with someone other than you. Hurts doesn’t it? Loyalty is something that goes deep.
Picture how your wife may feel when someone influences the children to want something harmful to them–the children she carried for 9 months, bore, and then nurtured as they grew. Think how she deeply desires to see God’s best in their lives. But what if it is you, the man she has vowed before God to follow, who has instilled, negative or even harmful influences in the children’s lives? She wants to be loyal to you, but her heart cries out and fears for what she sees in your children. You might ask “How can I be the problem? I love the children too.” Two words Dad—your appetites and affections — in other words your example.
Regularly we hear from moms whose husbands are leading the children astray.
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and “Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries” (Joshua 5:13-14).
- Adam: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.
- Noah: Make thee an ark of gopher wood.
- Abraham: Thou shalt keep my covenant. Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,… and offer him.
- Lot: Escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
- Joshua: Arise, go over this Jordan,… Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you.
- Samson: For the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb
- Jonah: Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it
- John the Baptist: Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
- Paul: Prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.
Your turn, Dad: …..What is God’s direction for you? Will you obey?
“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
Many ask how I taught my children to do so many things. Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single Income Family is the long version of this.
Teach your children that they can do all things through Christ which strengthens us (Phil. 4:13). If God calls us to do something, He will enable us. If we don’t know how to do it, we have to first learn how (the easy part), and then we do it.
Parents set the example by being sponges to learn (and enjoy work).
- of the Lord Jesus, first and foremost
- technical/vocational skills (make your time worth something)
- relationship skills
- communication skills, one-on-one and speaking to groups.
(Side note: if you aren’t a self learner, learning will cost you.)
Now comes both bad news and inversely the key. The enemy of learning is entertainment. If you and/or your children love entertainment, sorry. Ignore all of the above. Your children might as well be wearing a 100 pound backpack through life. Few want to learn and work when they can play.
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4).