I was reading an interview the other day with a father; he shared this comment; “My most important priority in life is to make sure my children are happy.” I disagree. It sounds nice, but the responsibility of a father is to train up their children in the way of the Lord. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 22:6; ESV; Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Our responsibility as fathers, leaders in the home and community is to teach the next generation. Lessons are not easy. Learning is not comfortable. Discipline does not make you happy. But we have a responsibility to do the hard stuff in order to prepare our children to face the world.
Let’s face it, we haven’t done the best job. We take the easy way out and let many other influences train up our children; the public schools, day care providers, social media and video games to name a few. The responsibility for us to train up a child means sacrifice for us also. That training comes at a personal cost to us, we don’t get to do what we want, we have to do what honors God.
I realize that the father in the interview may have met something different than what was recorded, that happens quite a bit in interviews, but to put the notion out there that a father’s primary job is to make their children happy is wrong. This type of thinking has created the mess we call society. It also dishonors God.
If a Father’s job is to make his children happy does that mean our Heavenly Father’s job is to make us happy? That will not be beneficial for us. God loves us too much to make us spoiled brats.
As I thought about my dad, I reflected on some of the lessons I learned at my father’s knee. I wondered how many of us know what we know because our father put it there. What did you learn from your father? I think every parent only wants that opportunity, the opportunity to teach their children the lessons that they learned; the opportunity to teach their children what and how this life should be lived.
I was rereading a story told by racecar driver, Geoff Bodine in the March 2003 issue of Guideposts. He talked about the family feud that went public after that fateful day in Indy when he and Brett exchanged love taps in turn three and four. Geoff recounted how he shot his mouth off and exposed a family matter for the whole world to see.
He remembered what his dad had taught him and wondered what his father would make of the whole thing. He behaved in a way that went against everything his father had taught him. “I couldn’t imagine how deeply our fighting must have hurt Dad.”
Geoff continued, “I grew up on my grandfather’s farm in Chemung, NY. Grandpa worked the dairy part. Dad and I worked the chicken farm. Side-by-side with dad, I learned what it meant to be a caring, decent Christian man. He was always giving, whether it was a meal, a job or money. People in church and the community counted on him. I can’t remember him ever once saying anything bad about anyone; especially family.”
Geoff shared how something continued to nag at him, despite all his success he had forsaken the lessons he learned from his father. His dad loved his wife, loved his children and most of all loved living a life that pleased God. Geoff remembers praying, “Please Lord, teach me how to make you more a part of my life. Like dad.”
In the end God would come to Geoff’s aid, as he tumbled in a horrific crash at Daytona, God came to him and spared his life. Geoff shared after the accident, “It wasn’t luck or safety restraints that saved me, it was a miracle. I am here to tell them I’m alive only by the grace and power of God. I’m sure Dad would be proud.”
We can’t all say we have had the best dad in the world. Let’s face it, some of us fall short. The Bible tells us that fathers have certain responsibilities to their families. Scripture tells us that the father is the head of the family. That does not mean he is king and lord to be served by the family. It means quite the opposite. The father is the chief servant of the family. He will be held responsible by God for the actions of his family.
Listen to what Paul writes;
Ephesians 5: 25-33, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 6:4, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
The foundation of a God honoring family starts with a father who is willing to set aside his wants and desires for the benefit of his wife and family. A father’s role is to lay down his life for his wife. The needs of the family are more important that his wants.
A father needs first to put his wife ahead of himself. This proves difficult for most men. We somehow think our wives are here to serve us. We need to get this right if we can expect to have a family that honors God.
This scripture also tells us that our role as fathers is not to antagonize and frustrate our children but to train them and instruct them in the way of the Lord. This implies that the father knows the way of the Lord.
If you don’t, start learning it now. It is never too late. When we change as fathers we influence our entire family. Know also that God can and will change the results of our past transgressions. I have seen it happen time and again. It has happened in my own family. When the father gets his relationship with God right and starts following God the family follows and is better for it.
I would encourage you fathers to submit to God’s authority through Jesus Christ. When you do, your family will follow. When you live according to God’s Will, you and your family will be blessed. Follow the ways of the Lord and He will lead you along the right path.