Part three in our series – Pause – on prayer. Let us be a praying church!
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Fathers are not usually seen as the nurturing ones in a family. When my boy’s got sick, they didn’t want me, they wanted Cheryl.
The Bible, however, tends to also place the father in a nurturing position. We are told not to “exasperate” our children, which means not to wear them out with correction, but to “bring them up”. The phrase literally means we spend time with them on a regular basis and encourage them in the development of their character.
The Bible tends to lay a huge responsibility on the father to help set the tone or the climate of the home. A father, who is consistently harsh or is never satisfied with his children, will tend to produce children who lack the confidence to face tough situations in life.
On the other hand, a father too quiet and passive to be intimately involved in the lives of children will likely lead to adults who cannot connect well with others, either in the workplace or in their own marriages and homes.
Fathers are often one of the best determinates of a child’s future success in life.
Wow, this is a sobering statement, but it’s true!
If a boy never feels he meets his father’s approval, he may become either an underachiever or an overachiever, but he will likely never feel that he “measures up” in life. A girl whose father fails to affirm her will often seek that approval from others – often in seeking inappropriate or less than ideal relationships. She may enter marriage unrealistically expecting something from a husband he may or may not be able to give.
I haven’t even mentioned the impact of an absentee or abusive father. Some reading this know this impact well – including the writer of this post (me).
The biggest impact in the life of a child whose father never nurtures is they often have a harder time realizing the nurturing aspect found in a loving relationship with a Heavenly Father. Without the model of an earthly father, they may see God more in the role of Judge than of “Abba” – which is the Hebrew term for our modern “Daddy”.
I’m thankful for the grace and mercy of God, which allows so many second chances for fathers who have missed the mark – but if we desire to be Godly fathers, we will strive to nurture our children in love.
How’s this for a Dad Challenge? I love investing in other men. We are in this together! I want to encourage you today! But, we have great work to do, men. Let’s do it to the glory of God!
For more thoughts on parenting, click HERE.
Ask yourself – what changes do I need to make to be a more nurturing dad?
So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if He calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 1 Samuel 3:9
Has God been trying to get your attention lately? Is God trying to tell you something? Are you having a hard time hearing?
Samuel was in training to be a prophet. He was set apart from birth to be God’s anointed one. God had something to tell Samuel, but Samuel couldn’t recognize the voice of God.
Eli told Samuel to lie down and simply say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
You and I live in an often crowded and busy world. There are lots of “voices”. I can’t remember the last time I had a day with nothing to do. My home is quieter than it once was when two boys kept the hallway filled with the sounds of football, basketball, and any other sport Mom would let them get away with in the house, but there’s still plenty of noise and activity. My calendar is fuller than ever.
Often, I find myself surrounded by the “stuff” of life. The idea of hearing from God in the midst of all this clutter seems nearly impossible. Yet, I know my very existence hangs on my God relationship. I need a word from my Father!
How about you?
Perhaps you too would love to hear from God, but your life is too thick for His word to filter through.
I love the advice of Samuel’s mentor – Eli. I believe his instructions could be helpful for us.
He told Samuel to be still.
Samuel laid down, in the stillness of the night, and waited for God to speak. Many times we can’t hear from God because we are – frankly – too busy. God tends to speak with a quiet whisper to listening, trusting ears. “Let them who have ears hear” – Jesus might say.
Consider your past week – when would you have had time to hear from God had He tries to speak in a whisper?
He encouraged Samuel to listen expectantly.
Samuel left Eli knowing he was waiting – and he knew Whom he was waiting for. He wasn’t surprised when God spoke, because he was anxiously awaiting His voice. I think many times we would be surprised should God choose to speak. We almost don’t expect Him to anymore.
Ask yourself – have you given up your belief God can, should He choose, answer your request? Are you praying in faith?
Perhaps most important, Eli mentored Samuel to obey God’s word.
It is one thing to hear from God, and quite another to do something about it. When God speaks to you – this is a monumental event! It is important to obey. I often wonder if God speaks most to those He knows will do as He asks.
Be honest, are you living in obedience to God today – as much as you know how? Should God ask you to do something contrary to what you want to do – are you in a season where you would obey?
God may be trying to speak to you at this point in your life. In fact, if you are a believer, I’d be surprised if He’s not. My question for you – are you in a position to hear?
Stop, wait, listen – and obey the word of God today!
I learned much of what I know about parenting after I was a parent.
Thankfully, my two boys are model young adults. I would say we have two of the greatest young men as sons any parent has ever seen. (Biased – aren’t I?) But, seriously, we have seen good fruit from our labor as parents. I believe this is in part because we followed certain principles.
Again, we learned as we went and it was purely the grace of God, but we were intentional.
These principles can greatly increase your success as a parent, in my opinion. (And, it’s important to note this is an opinion blog and an opinion post.) This opinion comes, however, not only from my personal experience, but also my training as a counselor, and my observation and counseling with hundreds of parents through years of ministry. Keep in mind – principles are not promises or guarantees. Children are individuals and you can do everything you know to do right and things not turn out as hoped.
But, I believe, as with most things in life, you have a better chance of success in parenting if you follow good principles than if you do not.
Most of us have a plan for other areas of our life, but not for our family. Plan a strategy for raising children the way you want them to go. We had a personal parenting plan. You can read the basics of it HERE. We reevaluated every year and made individual plans for each child based on their needs at the time. Do you have a plan for parenting? Granted, your plan will look different from ours. Your children are different.
This word has several applications. It is critically important to protect your relationship with the child, for example, so you can maintain influence over them for the rest of their life. You don’t want to lose their heart. This is not accomplished by giving them what they want, but by gentling balancing discipline with love. You may have to be willing to say no, or to make them wait for something, even when it is uncomfortable and unpopular with your children (and their friends). There are things parents need to protect their children from in this world – before they are ready. Just because an 8 year old wants to see the movie – and everyone else is seeing it – doesn’t mean they should. You’re the parent.
But, you also have to work to build their trust in you as much as their obedience to you. One reason our plan included the word grace is we knew we would have to extend lots of it to protect their heart and our connection to them. It’s a continual and delicate balance.
This one gets me in trouble with some parents, but often because they don’t always understand the magnitude of their parenting role at an early age – or they aren’t seeing the long-term goal of parenting. There is a time to gain control over a child’s actions. It’s when they are very young. When they are learning all the basic things of life we take for granted. We encouraged independent personalities in our boys, but a parent doesn’t have to let a 3 year old throw a temper tantrum, for example. When is this ever an acceptable – or effective – response as an adult? And, you can make a four year old attend Sunday school even when the would rather not – for another example. Are there times you don’t want to go to work? What do you do in those times?
There should be an element of control for a child not old enough to choose wisely and then a gradual release of authority given to them as they get older. Too many parents allow too much freedom early and then try to get control back when the child tries to be an independent teenager. It should be the opposite. You are training a child in the way he should go. Take advantage of the years where they desperately need and will comply with your wisdom.
Children require an intentional investment of time and energy over time. Having children who grow up well does not usually just happen. It is as a result of the right investment of parenting. We have children for such a short window of opportunity. We can’t waste time with opportunities which only produce temporary rewards or pleasures. Which has more importance – your work, your hobby – or your children? Do your actions portray your answer?
The one thing Cheryl and I consistently observe are families who appear to let the coaches or the instructors or other people raise their children. In a desire to give them activities they sacrifice needed time for their children with the people of whom they need the most time. Every family is busy on certain weeks, but if a family goes for months with little quality – and quantity – time together priorities may need to be evaluated.
(Side note – I realize this is especially challenging for single-parent or blended families. Some parents may need outside help – and it requires even more intentionality and planning. Get help and advice from others who have been there or are living your experience. This is also a huge advantage of being involved in a local church.)
You cannot expect children to learn – and certainly not live – principles you are not willing to model for them. Children should not be held to higher standards than you hold yourself. Are you living a life they can and should follow? If they simply do what you do – or are doing – will they turn out the way you would hope they would?
Parenting is hard – but, the rewards are worth it!
Also, if you know anything about my teaching, grace is of paramount theme. If you don’t feel you’ve done everything right – or you know you haven’t – first, know there are no perfect parents. Second, know God’s grace is sufficient. And, finally, know even if your children are adults there is time to restore relationships. My father was absent most of my life, but the last 10 years of his life were well-lived. He died a good father. I miss him today.
Praying for you as I post this.
Help me not to overwhelm my children with unrealistic expectations.
Remind me discipline is for their good – and to always administer it in love – not in anger or purely emotion.
Keep me from dumping my adult problems on them, while helping me be transparent enough for them to learn from my mistakes.
Help me to remember my children’s current age – and respond to them accordingly.
Grant me teachable moments and prompt me to use them to impart uncompromising truth into their life.
Allow me to see my children as the individuals you created them to be and help me encourage them to thrive in your purpose for their life.
Let them see our home as a safe, fun, welcoming environment.
Continually remind me time paces quickly and to embrace and enjoy each season.
Keep building my character so my children have a model to follow.
Above all – let my children know and experience unconditional love.
In Jesus name,