A while back I was waiting while some new tires were being mounted on our vehicle. I was looking out the front window of the tire store and observed a man with his two sons loading a Bobcat onto a trailer. The two boys were probably eight and ten years old, and they were dressed in blue jeans and shirts much like their father. At the father’s direction, each boy took a heavy ramp and folded it up with great effort to stow it properly for the drive home. Those little boys worked with all their might against the weight of the ramps in order to get them in the proper position. When they were finally successful, there was a smile of accomplishment and the wiping of their dirty hands on their jeans much like I’d seen their father do.
After the ramps were stowed, they all worked on getting the chains in place and tight so that the Bobcat would not move as they drove. The boys tried tightening the chains, but this job clearly took the strength of their father to lock them in place. Then after Dad tensioned the chains, with a look of satisfaction to each other and a few words that I couldn’t hear, they deemed everything ready for the drive. The boys piled in their side of the pickup while Dad climbed into the driver’s seat. It brought joy to my heart as I observed how those boys followed the example of their dad and how he delighted in those boys. They appeared to take great pleasure in identifying with and following their father. God made mankind with the desire to follow.
God illustrates our tendency to follow by likening us to sheep. “But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock” (Psalms 78:52). God did not design sheep to be bright animals. One general characteristic of sheep is that they follow. “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (John 10:4).
God has created us so that we will follow something. The first question is Whom or what will we dads follow? The next question is are we keenly aware of how our children will be influenced to follow what we are following?
I’ve been reading about King David in 2 Samuel. David so loved the Lord that he wanted to build a temple. The prophet Nathan came and told David the Lord had said for him not to build the temple. This could have been disappointing for David, but Nathan went on to say, “. . . Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house” (2 Samuel 7:11). David wanted to build the Lord a house, and the Lord said in return that He would build David a house (heritage). As I read about David’s response of awe to God’s offer I was impressed by his deep humility and gratefulness to the Lord.
I then contemplated if the Lord, the God of creation, Who could give anything to me, promised me a godly heritage, what would the sincere response from my heart be? If God said that He would give me a line of godly children who would be strong, dynamic followers of the Lord Jesus until He returns would I have David’s response or would I desire wisdom, great riches, or fame?
I wonder how many dads today would consider it a great blessing if the Lord said He would give them a godly heritage. Is it one of the greatest desires of our hearts? It is easy to be distracted by the cares and needs of this world. We must provide for our families, and that can be all too consuming. But where do godly children fit in with our priorities?
I think we can examine our lives to see how important godly offspring is to us. How do we spend our time? We all need to work to provide for our families, but are we looking for opportunities to reduce our work time so we can spend more time with our families or is work a good excuse to be away from home? For most I believe it is far easier to go to work than it is to disciple our children, but raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is difficult and our high calling (Ephesians 6:4).
I know a man who “couldn’t” spend time with his family because of the demands of his job. We then observed him in two succeeding jobs, and there was little surprise when he put the same amount of hours into each one. I know that was the way I was with one of my jobs when we lived in Florida. I could have worked less, but I didn’t want to. My satisfaction was in my job, and that was my priority. I even received a brass bar, which was intended to look like gold, with my name engraved on it for outstanding performance. My brass bar is now a treasure of shame as I reflect back on how my family needed me desperately, but I chose my job over them. A godly heritage was not the priority I should have made it.
Even King David was not the father he should have been. He failed to execute justice with his family and lost sight of how important his example was to his children. Even though David was a man after God’s own heart, he couldn’t assume that just because he had a good relationship with the Lord that his children would all have the same kind of relationship with the Lord. Sadly David set an example that led to Solomon’s abominable sin. David had at least seven wives and ten concubines. Yet, in Deuteronomy 17:17 the king is commanded not to multiply wives unto himself because they will turn his heart away from the Lord. David wrongly desired other women when one wife would have been enough. He set a bad example for Solomon and led Solomon astray. “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).
If our desire is to raise men and women mighty in the Lord Jesus we must choose to invest our time in our children. One thing I have found out about men through the years is a man WILL do what is important to him. With the Lord, there are no excuses, only priorities. We will be held accountable for the decisions we make, regardless of the perceived obstacles we are facing. Raising faithful children will take time. Will we invest in our children?