Where do you find princesses? In castles.
What does a princess have? A corps of servants to ensure the fulfillment of her every want.
Pity the poor girl (and her future husband) whose parents cultivate in her the belief that she is a princess. She will never receive the catering through her life that she feels she deserves.
One mom who had a “princess” upbringing but later came to her senses told us: “I was very unhappy one day. I kept getting unhappier, and I found myself wondering, ‘Why isn’t someone doing something to make me happy?’”
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Raising a follower of Jesus doesn’t sound like raising a prince or princess, does it? Are we setting our children up for failure, for a lifetime of disappointment and seeking satisfaction in all the wrong places?
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“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is at work around us. We see it in the fact that nothing improves naturally, but everything decays, falls apart, or wears out over time. Have you noticed that items of value—such as your car, your house (and everything in it), and your yard—take maintenance to continue performing reasonably well? Things of little or no value we dispose of: No maintenance required.
Even non-physical things decay and require upkeep as well. Consider your vocational skills, relationships with your wife, children, neighbors, brothers and sisters in Christ, and, most of all, your Lord.
Doing the required maintenance at best only prevents further degradation. What about improvements? Growth? Advancement? If we want our children to learn and grow, how are we setting the example?
How are you growing in vocational skills? What are you doing to become more valuable to your customers or employer? How much time and effort are you investing to deepen your relationships with your wife and children and especially with the Lord Jesus Christ?
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
It seems like the concern over Ebola is waning a bit. Many were very fearful of its coming to the States, and an outbreak would be terrible for sure. What would you think if I said there is something on par with Ebola in many professing Christian homes? What is it? Anger. Anger kills relationships and is highly contagious.
“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul” (Proverbs 22:24-25). The relationships in a home are far stronger than friendship, and our anger will be strongly, deeply impressed on the souls of our family members and yield devastating consequences.
I recall one dad who talked about how bad his anger was and acknowledged it had an impact on his 18-year-old son’s not being saved. This man’s anger was a key factor in his son’s rejecting both him and Christ, and yet he referred to his anger in a fairly casual way, much as someone would who had given someone his cold. If you want to drive your children away from you—and possibly away from the Lord: be angry.
I wonder if there is any other sin—that’s right sin—that is so widely justified. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Would your family say you get angry? Would they describe you as an angry man? If so, isn’t it time to forsake it before there are casualties?
As I was getting out of the elevator on my way back to our hotel room, a member of the hotel staff asked me a question. I couldn’t understand him and asked him to please repeat. He made another attempt, this time slower and with greater emphasis. I still didn’t understand him and asked if he would please repeat it again to me. He did, and I didn’t.
So he tried using one word as a question: “Checkout?” To that I replied, “Yes.” He smiled and we both went our ways. As I walked down the hall, I heard him dialoging in his native language with the housekeeping staff.
I thought about how important it is that we speak the language of those we are called to serve. I wondered how different our level of communication might have been if that fellow spoke English all the time instead of his native tongue. If they constantly spoke English among themselves is it possible they would be better equipped when speaking with the majority of their customers.
I then thought about my role as a father. I am so grateful for the weekly time I spend with each of my children on Sundays. I treasure the one-on-one time when we meet to discuss any problems they might have with me or with others in the family. We also discuss any other topic that is on their hearts. As a result of those meetings, we know each other well and can communicate on a deep level. I treasure my ability to speak on a heart level daily with those in my family.
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Can you speak the language of those you are called to serve? It takes effort to (re)learn to speak their language.
We dads have many responsibilities that require our time. Too often, however, we let important needs such as discipling our children, spending time with our wife, and leading family Bible time get crowded out by less important, though seemingly more urgent, tasks. We soothe our conscience by telling ourselves, “If only I had more time….”
My own dad was full of “if only’s.” He is gone now, and I am left with memories that would have been much happier and much better if only he had made other choices.
What sort of memories are we leaving our children? Yesterday is past, but tomorrow is a new day. Put off the old “if only’s” and put on the new “I will’s.” Then may we be men of action.
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).
Near us there is a small apple orchard that received no care for years—no pruning, no tilling, and no fertilizing. Ripe apples simply fell to the ground and rotted. Finally a new owner came in and has spent weeks pruning and restoring the orchard. This year or next should produce a beautiful harvest.
Think of your family as your orchard and your children as fruit. If you have neglected your “orchard,” it isn’t going to improve until you spend great amounts of time on it. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2).
If you have been lax in your responsibilities to disciple your children, the important point is to begin the restoration. Begin today to prune and till. It will be a more difficult job than if you had been faithful all along, but resolve today to be responsible with what God has given you.
Daily family Bible time, talking, praying, and worshipping together are necessary for discipling our children. Though we will not see the fruit of the new orchard owner’s labor for at least one or two seasons, the owner has done the right thing. Will you do the right thing with your orchard? May we be found faithful and may our orchards bear fruit well-pleasing to our Lord.
Recently I met some young adults who work on their family farms after school and on Saturdays. They were delightful: good attitudes; highly motivated; great workers. Happy! They were a joy to work alongside of. They loved the Lord Jesus. They respected their parents. Overall, they were great “kids.” One of them exclaimed periodically throughout the day, “I love being outside and working like this.”
Even the farm owner’s sons were working hard. I complimented one of them on his cheerful attitude because he could have chosen to do other things. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Someone has to do it.” That is so true about much of the work in life. Someone has to earn money for the family’s needs. Someone has to perform maintenance on the house and car. Someone has to clean the house. Someone has to mow the yard. Someone has to school, disciple, and feed the children. Someone has to wash and fold the clothes. The list of opportunities to work for the family goes on and on.
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). “Dress” in the Hebrew means “to serve or work.” Man was put on this earth to serve and work. What is our attitude regarding work? So many people have disabilities and cannot work. Would we want to trade places with them?
What a blessing it is when we choose to embrace what needs to be done with a cheerful, grateful spirit and teach our children to do the same. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17).
Just imagine how you would feel walking into your son’s debt-free home for the first time? Most parents don’t know what it feels like to have their own home without a mortgage—much less how it feels for their children to truly own a home, debt-free, even before they are married. What a blessing it would be for your son to start out life without the burden of a 20- or 30-year mortgage.
Learn how you can help him.
It is attainable.
Buying a House Debt-Free: Equipping Your Son.
What’s your hobby? Years ago, mine was flying small private airplanes. I loved it. Most hobbies are expensive—in time and money. They tend to take us away from our family and consume money that we could likely spend better elsewhere. Here’s a tip: Whatever your hobby might be, I can save you money. I have found the best hobby of all—and the good news is that it doesn’t cost you anything but your time. I guarantee that it will give you far greater satisfaction than your current hobby. Would you consider taking up this one hobby and putting all others aside?
Here it is… Make your family your hobby, your passion, your joy, and your delight! Next to the Lord, may your family be what you think about and are excited to spend your time “on.” Picture your children grown, living for the Lord Jesus, and successful in life. What sort of hobby could rival those rewards? A perfect golf swing? An exhilaratingly view from 10,000 feet? A terrific collection of [fill in the blank]?
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).
Dad, how many children have you birthed? How much did the last one weigh? Scripture refers to childbirth as the greatest pain one can bear. So if we men are so tough, why aren’t we the ones having the babies? (OK, I know the answer.) But think about it: What pain have we dads endured for our children? Our wives carried each baby for nine months and then birthed it. “We have heard the fame thereof: our hands wax feeble: anguish hath taken hold of us, and pain, as of a woman in travail” (Jeremiah 6:24).
We are commanded to disciple our children. “And, ye fathers, … bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Have we agonized over our children? Do we spend time with them, talk with them, and pray earnestly for them?
Jesus suffered on the cross for us and our children. Our wives have suffered in childbirth for each of our children. What price have we paid, what suffering have we endured, as we disciple our children? Think about how Jesus demonstrated His love for us and then ask yourself: How have I demonstrated a love for my family that cost me something?