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?
Have you ever been challenged to make a commitment that you know will be beneficial but very difficult to keep? Maybe you doubted you had the self-discipline to follow through and thus decided not to make the commitment. For some reason we often feel it is more honorable not to commit than to risk failing. Doesn’t that sound quite noble?
Could it be that it really isn’t lack of self-discipline or noble motives, but wrong priorities? Have you noticed that a man will always do what is most important to him? We usually eat three meals a day regardless of how busy we are, and we go to work every day even when we don’t feel like it. Yet, we will not do what we are double minded about. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
Over the years I’ve challenged thousands of dads to commit to daily personal and family Bible time on the condition that if they miss one they won’t eat a bite of food for 24 hours. A man’s growling stomach is a great reminder that he is starving himself and his family spiritually.
A host of men and families are blessed because the dads committed. Do they ever miss a Bible time? Maybe, maybe not, but I know this: They made the right commitment. Sadly, there is another host of men who thought themselves noble but continue to starve themselves and their family.
Will you commit to feeding your spirit and your family’s every day?
Society admires those who are successful, whether in business, athletics, or other endeavors. Yet have you noticed how quick people are to criticize those who fail (I’m not referring to moral failure)? Often, when people see others incurring relentless criticism when they fail, they shrink a bit. Fear of failure and its consequences kills initiative.
That teaches “us” that we had better not try something unless success is either guaranteed or at least attainable with reasonable effort. Surely, we conclude, being mocked and ridiculed for failing is too much of a cross for anyone to bear.
But isn’t that backward? Shouldn’t we applaud those who try — those who have the gumption to try something difficult? Peter failed to protect his Lord. “And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear” (Matthew 26:51). He missed and only got the man’s ear. Yet, Peter said he was willing to die with Jesus, and he proved himself. Sure, he would soon deny Him, but look what he learned in the process.
We will never be a perfect dad, perfect husband, or perfect Christian. We can pour out our lives into our children as we disciple them and still our children might fall short. But men, let’s die trying because if we fail to try … we are guaranteed to be failures.
Most have read Pilgrim’s Progress and remember Talkative. What a guy! He had all the right answers and said all the right things. The only problem was that he didn’t live it out. He was all talk, an empty suit, a talking head.
In his book Jack, Straight from the Gut, Jack Welch explains that GE rated their employees with what they called “the four Es of GE leadership.” I have modified the points to highlight dad’s leadership. What if keeping our job as Dad depended on our ratings on the following points?
1. Does Dad invest his time in his family?
2. Does Dad inspire his family to live for Jesus Christ?
3. Will Dad make difficult decisions in following Christ even when others don’t agree?
4. Will Dad be the first to step out and implement those decisions?
The last point is primarily what sets a real performer apart from a “Talkative.” It’s easy for you and me to talk well but lack execution. If we are a great trip planner, but never go on the trip, what’s the benefit? “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
Ask your family to rate you (1–10) on the four points and give you examples to support their ratings. It’s a good exercise. I did it. BTW, at GE those in the lower 10 percent in each department were expected to go find another job. Let’s strive to be in the top 10 percent in the universal pool of Christian dads.
Would you feed her?
I do. She’s about 80 pounds of fierce muscle and eats squirrels whole. It all started because I wanted her as a friend and not an enemy. (Wouldn’t you?) That’s the flesh. I did it for my gain. Now she “loves” me but only because I feed her choice scraps of meat.
It’s easy to value others because of what they do for us. When we walk in the Spirit, however, we are to love others with an agape love, whether they are good to us or even bad to us. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
May we love our wives and children because of who they are and not because of what they do for us.
Someone once told me about a sign he read on the wall of a business: “We want employees who want to work here, not just for a paycheck.”
That sentiment is similar to a common corporate mission statement that proudly proclaims: “Our employees are our best asset!”
Don’t both of those statements sound good? Wouldn’t you want to work there? Well, maybe yes or maybe no. Doesn’t it depend upon whether management actually makes decisions for the good of the employee consistent with those statements? One question would be: Is the company investing in their employees?
We could say something similar about our homes. A father may desire that each member of the family wants to live in his home, or he might say that his family is his greatest treasure on earth. The question is: What is he doing to make those statements a reality? Is he making decisions for the good of his wife and children? Is he investing in his wife and children?
Have we evicted anger from our lives and ushered in love, gentleness, and patience? Let’s tally how much time we spend with our wife and children each week. Why isn’t it more? Might that fact be the difference between words that sound good and reality?
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:13).
Let’s make our homes a place of nurturing and love. It begins with a choice. Will we make good choices and then implement them?