Tag Archives: Leadership

In the Way He Should Go

Several months ago, while studying in preparation for a workshop, I came to a new understanding of the well-known verse Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I believe this is one of the most commonly quoted verses but least appropriately applied.

How can it be misapplied when the verse is so straightforward? Doesn’t it teach us that if we raise our children in the way we want them to go, they will live like that as adults? I have observed “good” Christian parents raising their children–families who go to church, espouse to love the Lord Jesus, and even homeschool their children. Aren’t they training their children in the way they should go? Let’s find out.

Sadly, even within the Christian homeschooling community, I’m seeing children who are being raised to be children all of their lives. They are trained, but is it really in the way they should go? Does it match the goals these parents have for their children? In another twenty years, will the entertainment-focused Christian youth of today all of a sudden change their ways? A turnaround in focus didn’t happen as my generation grew up, nor do I honestly believe that Proverbs 22:6 teaches it will.

If the years of one’s youth mean one fun activity or sport after another, when do children learn to enjoy work? Must our children always have great fun while homeschooling? If this is their training, how will they respond as adults to jobs that aren’t always fun? In Genesis 2:15 we read that God put man on the earth to keep the garden. Our lot in life as men is to work and serve.

It is as if we believe there is some magic switch on the back of our children’s heads that, when flipped, will instantly turn a childlike youth into a mature, Christ-serving adult. Unfortunately, a child who has been fed a constant diet of fun and games is not going to have an appetite for work and the things of the Lord. What happens when church is the place of boy-girl relationships and pizza parties? It will likely mean that church must have a great social calendar, potlucks, and sports leagues to keep our adult children coming back. Hmmm. If it isn’t the intention of parents to raise perpetual children, why are so many doing just that?

We must search our souls over this. How will our sons ever grow up to be responsible, Christ-serving men of God if we don’t truly “train them in the way they should go”? If our young men are fed a diet of fun activities and sports in their youth, won’t they grow into adults with an appetite for ongoing recreation and couch-potato-type viewing? I’ve met very few men who began life with an entertainment focus and were able to break the training (actually, I can only think of two).

Christ is our example and our Lord. We see no hint of the Lord Jesus spending His time on what is the norm for Christian youth and men today. Why didn’t He? Was it because there wasn’t entertainment back then? No! It was because Jesus knew the clock was counting down, and He was not going to waste precious time on activities of no eternal value. I think that may be at the heart of the parent’s problem. Our focus today is on how to spend as much time as possible doing what is the most pleasurable. We do not believe that time is precious, and that we need to be about the Master’s business. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). “But this I say, brethren, the time is short. . .” (1 Corinthians 7:29).

Most Christian parents will say they want their children to grow up to be good Christians. Sadly, what our generation has come to accept as “good” Christians is, I believe, very different from being dynamic followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. “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).

This leads to the first step we parents should take to train our children in the way they should go. May we bow before the Lord and ask Him to evaluate our lives. What is my relationship like with Jesus? What is the focus of my heart? What do I enjoy doing the most? Who do I want to be with the most? What priority does my daily quiet time with the Lord Jesus hold? I think we will agree the answers to these questions reveal whether we are carnally or spiritually minded. I join you in bringing these questions before the Lord.

Generally, our children will follow in our footsteps. Are those footsteps leading them in the way they should go? If we are setting a good example, then the fruit will be good. If, however, our example is of following the world, then the fruit will be bad. We must approach Proverbs 22:6 with stark honesty. We should realize that what we are creating now is ultimately what our children will be. Certainly, God can perform a miracle as He did with Paul, but He is holding us responsible for how we lead our children. The issue goes beyond whether or not we are satisfied with the example we are setting for our children. Rather the question would be, “Is the Lord Jesus pleased with our example?”

May we be fathers who will critically evaluate whether we are leading our children in the way they should go. If not, may we seek the Lord for a change of direction and then be obedient to it.

Dad, the Spiritual Leader

How comfortable are you with your role as the spiritual leader of your home? Is this something you willingly own as your responsibility? How do you view it compared to your calling to provide for the physical needs of your family?

We can be wonderful providers for our families and yet, after a full life, have each of our children end up in hell or as worldly, lukewarm Christians. That seems to put the issues into perspective, doesn’t it? Have we spiritually reproduced death and carnality, or vibrant offspring of the Lord Jesus?

I remember at one point in my life smugly thinking, “I’m doing what I should as the spiritual leader of my home.” We were homeschooling, the children were in Sunday School, and I was having bedtime devotions (a pretty shallow one, but it counted, didn’t it?) with the children. What else was there?

Think about Moses for a minute, and God’s calling him to lead His people. Moses kept telling the Lord he was not equipped to properly lead the Israelites. Even after God said He would enable Moses for this job, Moses still back-peddled. Finally, in Exodus 4:14-16, “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses,” and God agreed to use Aaron. “And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.”

I’m grieved by how few fathers really take the role of being the spiritual leader of their homes seriously. There are either excuses about capabilities and gifts or no real effort beyond going through the basics. God equips those He calls. We must believe that God will equip us to do the job He has given us. He gave Moses signs of his authority, and said Moses was to “be to him instead of God.” Isn’t that an incredible statement? Moses’ actions were to be a picture of God in the flesh.

Is it any wonder so many have poor concepts of God when their fathers were terrible examples? What an awesome responsibility we have as fathers. God intended that we dads help form the God image in the minds of our children. That is one reason the Lord’s Prayer begins, “Our Father which art in heaven. . . .”

We have no greater responsibility than, as far as we are enabled by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to demonstrate Christ to our families. Christ said if you have seen Me you have seen the Father. His purpose in coming to earth was to reveal the Father. Are we able to fully grasp the seriousness of this calling? Our desire needs to be to live as Christ in full view of our families. We must be crying out to the Lord on behalf of our families, dying to self daily, and if necessary, giving our life for them.

Moses was a wonderful picture of that as he cried out to the Lord for the Israelites. I was greatly challenged by Moses’ response to the Israelites making the golden calf while he was on the mountain. God was ready to kill them all and make Moses into a mighty nation. Yet what did Moses say? In Exodus 32:32 he said, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.”

I believe that is referring to the Book of Life where the names of the saved are recorded. I think Moses was demonstrating his willingness to go to hell if it meant the rest of the Israelites might live. Here we have the picture of Christ’s atonement for our sin made as an offering to the Lord. When that sank in, I was challenged to the depth of my heart. Moses was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for those he was called to serve.

May we bring our families before the Lord constantly as Moses did in the Tent of Meeting. May our families see us going to the Lord in prayer as the Israelites saw Moses. May we take our calling as a serious matter of life and death.

Dad, Where Is Your Heart?

In school, I preferred fill-in-the-blank questions to essay questions. I think that might be true for most of us. Consider for a minute a special fill-in-the-blank that could save your children from abandoning the faith. Are you game?

What if our children were to fill in the following statements about us?

_____________________ is most important to my father.

My father talks most about ________________________.

I don’t know about you, but I find these rather heavy. I believe that if my children answered them candidly, I might get a picture of who I really am. Unfortunately, I may not want to know the answers!

In Judges 6:13, the Lord is speaking with Gideon. The Lord has just told Gideon he is a mighty warrior, and He is with him in spite of the fact that Gideon is acting in a very cowardly way. Then we read, “And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Now what does this verse have to do with the fill-in-the-blank statements above? I think there are several points worth considering.

If the fathers had been living God-fearing lives, Israel would not have been in the mess they were. God was chastening the nation because the fathers were not living as God had called them to. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years” (Judges 6:1). The fathers were not telling the children that all of this oppression was a result of the fathers’ sin. Instead, they seemed to blame the Lord for having abandoned them, as if He didn’t love them anymore. Actually, the truth was the Lord did love them and wanted to punish them so they would cry out and return to Him. Dads, are we experiencing hardship or chastening that is a result of our lack of devotion and love of our Lord?

The fathers were actually telling their children about the wonders the Lord had performed. Many dads have felt they were doing all they needed to do by telling their children about the Lord. Maybe they were even going so far as to read to them from a Bible picture storybook at bedtime. Even though that is good, it isn’t enough. You see, our deeds speak for us. During the day, we will automatically talk about what really is important to us, and we will live out our values. These fathers were telling their children about what God used to do. However, all children need to see fathers living their lives dedicated to serving a living, loving God. Our children should have fathers who love the Lord so much that they can’t help but talk to their children about the tender mercies and goodness of the Lord Jesus. Our children will grow up like we really are, not who we tell them they should become.

Instead of the Lord receiving the blame for difficult circumstances, He should be praised for His goodness when He is disciplining us or leading us through times of trial. Do we only love Him when times are good? Do we want to teach our children to love us only when they think we are being kind to them?

I pray this, “Oh, Father, may we demonstrate our love for You constantly to our children. May we be quick to confess our failures and not blame the consequences of our sin on You. May our children see their father praising You, Lord, and being quick to pray to You. May You be the first and most frequent topic on our lips. May my children know by my actions that You are the One I love more than anyone or anything.”

Encouragement for Dads

I wonder how many of you dads might actually look at this article. If you are like me, you have a stack of items that you need to take time to read, and this would be one more on “the heap.” However, it is my sincere desire to challenge and benefit you in ways that the other items crying for your time likely will not.

One reason this content will be different is that I truly care about your success as a home-educating father. It is a fact that how well or how poorly you do your job as a home-educating father will have impact on many future generations (assuming normal progression). Either your children will be well educated, responsible, Christian men and women or . . . they won’t! I believe that the primary reason for success or failure of the children is the father. That is why we all need encouragement!

Where do men usually get this type of encouragement? From their parents? Well, maybe sometimes. From their friends? Hopefully, but often not. From their pastor? Occasionally if you are really blessed, as I am, but not usually. From our wives? Sometimes, but unfortunately, that is extremely difficult for them to do without sounding like they are nagging.

Families today need a father who is a leader–not a boss, but a leader. A father leader is more concerned about the members of his family than himself. He is someone who has deep biblical convictions. He is a man who has passion behind his convictions and knows why he chooses a course for his family. Yes, in fact, he is a man who would lay down his life for his family.

I believe one of the most crucial questions a father must answer is, “Do I own total responsibility for raising my children?” It isn’t my wife’s job; she is my helpmeet. She is there to help implement the goals and direction I set for the family. Do we feel the awesome weight of that responsibility? I’m not trying to lay guilt on you, just openly discuss the reality of our responsibility as God designed it. The CEO of a company has others who help him, but all of the responsibility is his. He is the one who answers for the success or failure of the company.

The most popular route for fathers is to become engrossed in our jobs and leave our wives with the “little” things. However, which one will matter on the other side of eternity, whether we got the promotion or raised men and women of God?

God wants men who feel the weight of their responsibility and, therefore, realize the incredible blessing in a wife who will pour out herself into her children. Our wives are one in a million; may we be one-in-a-million fathers!

A Dad’s Power and Authority

There probably aren’t too many situations that will call a father to “arms” quicker than when his child is being picked on by a bully. I have only had it happen a few times to one of my children, but it really got my blood boiling.

What is it about power and authority? Those that have it tend to use it. That is why someone once said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If the quote isn’t exact, it is close enough for you to get the point. Those who have power, over time, will tend to use it for their own advantage.

Look at Solomon; he was the wisest man in the whole world. No king had the wisdom that he possessed. You would expect his reign to be picture perfect. Yet that was not the case. He failed to obey God’s Word and then used his power to satisfy his lusts. However, his lusts led his heart toward worshipping false gods.

The power of Solomon’s position allowed him to acquire 700 wives and 300 concubines. Can you imagine that? He used his power to indulge in pleasure against the warning of God’s Word. It was the ruin of his kingdom.

What about dads? As leaders of our families, we have the power and authority to make the decisions. Certainly, we may be tempted to make decisions for our own selfish ends.

Christ, as our example, had absolute power, but He used it only to serve others as directed by the Father. He did not use it for His own selfish pleasure.

It is easy for us dads to be bullies in our own homes. I know we don’t see it that way, but isn’t it possible? Just like the bully, we can have what we want. We can have our way all the time if we so choose. The possibilities are endless: dad’s favorite meals, more money for dad’s clothes, dad’s hobbies, dad’s entertainment, dad’s sports, dad’s choice of restaurant, and on and on it goes.

However, just like Solomon, if we neglect to follow the leading of God’s Word and choose to use our power and authority for our benefit, the consequences will be far reaching in our family.

May we be careful to follow Christ’s example and use our authority to serve and minister to our families. We have been entrusted with the care and nurturing of our families; may we, by God’s grace, be faithful stewards.