Father’s Day is rapidly coming upon us and will likely be celebrated in almost every home that receives these Corners. Without exception, each year my family has endeavored to make Father’s Day a very special day for me. From morning to bedtime, they lavish their gratitude and love on me through their attention, words, cards, gifts, and actions. As I reflect on their kindness, I am humbled by my unworthiness of their love.
Which of us really deserves the love and respect our family shows us? I am grateful my family loves and accepts me. When I look at my failures, weaknesses, and character flaws, I praise God for the respect my family gives me even though I don’t deserve it. What should my attitude be toward the shortcomings in my life? Should I just accept them saying that is the way I am or persevere in changing by God’s grace?
Recently, Teri and I were discussing the children’s school. We talked about some of the issues of this year and their impact on next year’s school. As we discussed things, I could see that I had let Teri down by not fully supporting her in the managing of our homeschool. Finally, when the truth settled in, I confessed to her, “Honey, I can see that my heart has not been turned toward the children’s schoolwork as it should have been, will you forgive me?” I don’t like to let Teri down, but I could see it was true.
It isn’t as if I don’t care about the children’s schoolwork; I do. However, I have undermined Teri’s success at times by letting other things take the priority in my heart that school should have. As this situation unfolded, I had to chuckle in one respect, since just a day or so earlier I had a brother in Christ write and ask how I managed my priorities. My answer was that we are the ones setting our priorities and need to make decisions based on those priorities. Before I knew it, I had a prime example of my failure to do just that in this area of our homeschooling. I have repented and will endeavor by God’s grace to make better decisions in relation to our homeschooling as we go forward.
We can easily deceive ourselves into thinking we are living by our priorities. For example, most reading this article would likely have these as their top five priorities:
1. Relationship with God
2. Relationship with wife
3. Relationship with children
What happens, though, when we aren’t aware that our decisions are out of line with our priorities?
In Ezekiel 34, God is speaking to shepherds about bad decisions and actions in their lives. They have put themselves first while neglecting their flocks. “And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezekiel 34:1-2) I don’t believe those shepherds felt they were bad shepherds. It is likely that they thought they were doing a pretty good job. Then Ezekiel came and told them they were bad shepherds. Isn’t that the way it is for us too? It often takes someone else to help us come to an awareness that something is wrong in our lives.
Our difficulty with seeing our own sin is one reason that Jesus gave the church an outline in Matthew 18 for how to resolve a problem with another brother. Even when confronted, we often won’t believe a person if he tells us there is an area in our lives that needs to change. This is where a godly, respected brother in Christ can help—someone we trust. If that brother comes alongside, puts an arm on my shoulder and says, “I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to be. . .” will I listen to him? Am I open to what he says even if it is hard for me to accept?
Unfortunately, most don’t have a brother who is willing to exhort on a personal level, so what is he to do? In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul says for us to, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Examining myself is beneficial for my family’s sake. May we have an attitude that we desire to know our faults and failures so we can keep them on our hearts and before the Lord Jesus for His grace. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I find that to be a good opportunity to ask the Father to examine my heart. Some nights He reveals something, and other times I go right back to sleep.
Next to the Father, my family knows me best. May I have the type of heart that is always open to hearing about my failures and weaknesses from my wife and children. If that is my attitude, then I believe my children will tend toward an attitude of being willing to humbly listen to me when I need to share their faults with them.
If we don’t receive feedback on the decisions that we make and concerning our “walk,” we can expect a similar attitude in our children. In John 8:41a Jesus said, “Ye do the deeds of your father.” Then in 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Not only do our children do the things we do, but they will also lust or desire after the things we desire. (For more on the power of appetites and how they affect our children refer to Preparing Sons to Provide for a Single-Income Family and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts).
Dads, we must own the fact that we have tremendous influence in the lives of our children. Being a father carries with it eternal responsibilities in our children’s lives. Being a godly father is far, far, far more important than putting food on the table—it involves our example and how we live out Jesus Christ in our homes. Do our lives portray that of a disciple of Jesus Christ? No one is perfect, but do our families see dads who hunger for Jesus and are growing closer in their spiritual walks?
If we say we love Jesus but our lives betray our real priorities, then our children will likely follow our bad example. We receive heartbreaking e-mails from moms whose husbands profess to be Christians, yet, one could not prove it by their decisions. These moms are not whining or grumbling, but they are seeking encouragement concerning how to counteract the dad’s bad influence in the lives of their children. The moms see the wrong directions their children are heading and with all their hearts, they want to try to change that path. With Dad’s authority goes responsibility, and it is an extremely difficult job at best, to counteract a dad’s bad influence in the children’s lives. As we see the undesirable fruit in the lives of our children, it will cause us to repent and change, but if only it wasn’t necessary to get to that point. It often takes the heartbreak of Dad seeing his mistakes to bring about the grief and repentance necessary to change his course. That is why it is such a good thing when we will first ask the Lord to examine us, and then our wives and children.
As Father’s Day approaches, may it be a time of celebration—including celebrating the love, forgiveness, and grace of the Father as He enables us for the job before us. I feel so inadequate to raise my children, but I know the One who is more than able to strengthen and direct me. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Certainly, in my weakness, He is strong. If it takes chastening to change my heart, it is done out of His great love to turn me back toward Him. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:19). Dads, it is a difficult job, but the blessings are beyond measure. Happy Fathers Day! May God richly bless each of you as you seek Him with your whole heart!