Series: Father's Day
Directives To Be A Great Dad
June 21, 2020 | Randy Smith
Directives To Be A Great Dad
Sunday, June 21, 2020 • Father's Day
Pastor Randy Smith
“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psm. 127:3-5).
A few months ago, we noticed a bird build a nest in a pine tree near our back door. Within a couple weeks she was feeding her baby chicks. A couple weeks after that I looked, and the nest was completely empty. The parent’s work was done, and the youngsters were now to fend for themselves.
Today is Father’s Day and for all parents we know raising human children is not that easy. God has structured it so parents will in many ways ultimately shape the future character of their children. For bird parents, it’s short and instinctive. For human parents, it’s long and instructive.
If you follow me on YouTube, you noticed I recently uploaded a video sharing my best advice for dads to raise great daughters. Early in the week I thought it might be a good idea to expand that material and share some biblical advice for dads to raise great children.
1. Affirm Their Worth
Number one (of four points), “Affirm their Worth.”
The question here is, do your children believe they have value? People will directly and indirectly tell them they are useless. Science teachers will tell them they evolved. Their own hearts will cast dark shadows. Failure will surround their lives. And society at large will ignore them.
Children should and by nature do find their identity in their parent’s assessment of them. When their parents fail to provide that, they will search for it from the world, oftentimes through compromising and destructive activities. So how do we as parents affirm our child’s worth?
Well, let’s begin by looking at how the Apostle Paul spoke to the churches he loved. “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all” (Rom. 1:8). “I long to see you” (Rom. 1:10). “I thank my God always concerning you” (1 Cor. 1:4). “I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:8). Here we see a unique bond that Christians have for one another. It’s not based on ethnicity, gender, age, giftedness or appearance. It’s based on the fact that we are all members of God family.
The same is true for our biological family. God’s sovereign grace has brought these children into our lives. As I read in Psalm 127, they are a “gift of the Lord.” Our children need to understand their worth is not based on their popularity or appearance, but rather the mere fact that they are divinely gifted members of our family. In His sovereign design, God placed those specific children in our care and therefore we as parents affirm to them that their value to us exceeds that of all other people.
But we must go further. Our children must understand and accept the core biblical principle from Genesis 1:27. “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Our children have worth because unlike the animals they have been created in the very image of God Himself. Understanding this teaches children that they have inherent value simply because they are a person, but it also helps them avoid arrogant pride as all people possess the same inherent value. So, they are able to dispel disparaging thoughts and remarks, but also dispel any superiority when tempted to believe they are better than others.
But we still need to go further. Ultimate worth is found when we have a relationship with God that comes from knowing Christ as our Lord and Savior. Only with Christ do we have the hope of sin and guilt eternally removed. Only with Christ do we receive direct affirmation from a heavenly Father. Only with Christ does the re-creation process into God’s perfect image occur.
Therefore, it is essential, fathers, that we are showing Jesus to our children both though our words and through our actions. If our children do not see in us that Jesus is sufficient for our problems or that our full identity is seen in Him, we do our children a great disservice.
And men, we must understand (and it’s supported by statistics) that a father’s influence on his child is greater than any person on the planet. Look at the current events. Children have perhaps never been more lost – searching for worth and identity in the most bizarre beliefs. Is it any coincidence that more than ever many homes do not have a father and the ones that do contain fathers that are either clueless or removed?
Fathers, by nature, your children want to feel special. Will they learn that from you? And will you reject the superficial spoiling, self-esteem movement, permissive attitudes and worthless flattering in your efforts to achieve it? Start with God’s image. Then cultivate their love for God’s image. Then show Christ as the solution to repair God’s image. Nurture their relationship with Christ toward His causes. Only then will our children find their worth in life.
2. Show Their Direction
Number two, “Show their Direction.”
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This powerful verse is directed toward parents and it teaches that there is one way a child should go. So how can we be upset in our child’s direction if we ignore our parental mandate to point them in the right direction?
Therefore, Provers 1:8-9, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck.”
Think about it for a minute. Consider all the voices trying to direct your children: greedy advertisers,
biased news outlets, popular opinion, Hollywood celebrities, trending musicians, corrupt politicians, misguided teachers, adolescent intuition and immature friends. What are they doing? They are all trying to direct your children. Do you think any of these folks are pointing your children in the right direction?
Quite often we think our children don’t desire the direction of their fathers. I’d argue to the contrary. Deep down inside desperately want it. And even though they might not ask for it or understand how important it is, they instinctively they know it’s right.
Children are looking for stability from someone that demonstrates consistency, someone they can depend upon when their life is crumbling. They specifically want a father that will model and teach them the truth. Even when it’s not what they want to hear, they appreciate firm convictions and honest conversation. They want direction.
Therefore, a good father would rather be seen unfavorable, than compromise what he knows to be right for his child’s well-being. It’s more about leadership than friendship. Greater trust is then given to the father as time proves the father not perfect, but often wise with his directives. And greater reception of the directives is received when children know it comes from a man who truly loves them, has their best interest in mind and practices what he preaches because that is the direction he is pursuing.
Be that role model for your children. 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” Philippians 4:9, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” We see the positive and negative examples throughout the Bible. Where do you think Isaac (the son of Abraham) learned how to lie (Genesis 12:10-20; 26:7-11)? How did Judah (the son of Jacob) learn to be a schemer (Gen. 27; 38)?
Be intentional to show your child the way he or she should go. Colossians 1:10, “So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” Plant that vision, until the day comes when they can be self-disciplined and wise, guided by the Holy Spirit to live life in the right direction for themselves.
3. Develop Their Respect
<p'>Number three, “Develop their Respect.”
Whether your children agree or not, the biblical command is that they, Exodus 20:12, “Honor [their] father and [their] mother.” Why? Because honoring respects God’s chain of command for the authority He has established. And because honoring (and obeying when young) is often mentioned in the Bible with a promise for the child’s well-being. There is no doubt that children who honor their parents do much better in life.
When I think of disobedient children in the Bible, often my mind first goes to the rebellious sons of Eli. Remember them from 1 Samuel 2? They didn’t respect their father’s authority and therefore it spilled over to dishonoring God’s authority. It was seen in the way they treated God’s house and God’s people. And God’s verdict? “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD” (1 Sam. 2:12).
So, in one sense we must demand the respect of our children. But in another sense, we desire that we should earn the respect of our children. How do we do that?
We trust them with the appropriate levels of responsibility. We guide, but permit them to make some of their own decisions. We pick them up when they fall. We commit ourselves to their mother. We do what we say. We confess our failures, asking for their forgiveness and admitting we do not have all the answers. We make them a priority with our time. We provide the proper boundaries. We protect them physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. We show that we believe in them and are pleased to have them as our children.
Listen to the words from Solomon to his son. “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart so you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine. My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord Or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights (Pro. 3:1-12),
That’s a dad a child can respect!
4. Provide Their Love
Number four, “Provide their Love.”
Perhaps most of all, our children need to hear that we love them. And why do we love them? Simply because they are our children. Period! They do not earn our love, nor can they lose our love regardless of what they do.
This is modeling the divine love of God. Why does He love us? Because He chooses to do so. The love is unconditional and not based on our performance. And the Bible says the only reason we love Him is because He first loves us (1 Jn. 4:19). And how did He show that loved? Through His own sacrifice. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Children can easily see where your priorities are and where your love is directed.
Discipline is important, but the fear of disciple will not hold our child in place forever. Discipline rather is to be seen as a loving guide to point them in the right direction and then what holds them in place is them knowing these have an immutable father that will always be in their corner – always defending, always accepting, always forgiving and always available to talk when they desire it. And moreover, that imperfect loving earthly father points them to a perfect loving heavenly Father who now becomes the foundation for all their decisions in their future.
How Jacob would have rejoiced if he heard how Joseph resisted the temptations from Potiphar’s wife. How Daniel’s parents would have rejoiced when they learned he would not defile himself with the king’s food. You didn’t hear from these guys, “Nobody will ever know” or “Everybody else is doing it” Why? Because they learned to trust their loving heavenly Father who sees all and tells us to stand for Him when everyone else is caving.
As the aged Apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth” (3 Jn. 4). Jesus said walking in the truth (obedience) is how we demonstrate our love to the Father. May our children see a picture of the Father’s love through their father’s love.
So as good fathers: We affirm our child’s worth. We point them in the right direction. We develop their respect and we provide their love.
Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”