This is the third post in the Biblical Masculinity series. Post One: What is Biblical Masculinity?, Post Two: Biblical Masculinity in Marriage, Post Four: Biblical Masculinity in Fatherhood Pt. 2
There is so much more to cover on this topic than I will be able to deal with in this post. At the end of the next article (Biblical Masculinity in Parenting Pt. 2) I have provided a list of books and resources that have helped me and will shed more light on the spiritual aspects of fatherhood. I just wanted to do a brief fly-over of some of the spiritual issues related to fatherhood and then focus in on some practical ideas that may help you lead your family and fulfill your God-given role as a dad.
The big idea I want you to take away from this post is discipleship. God has blessed you with a house full of little disciples. This is one way you are able to fulfill God’s call on your life to be a disciple maker. – Mt. 28:18-20
Teaching & Training
- Fathers are required to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord – Eph. 6:4. If we raise our children in any other way, we walk in disobedience to the Lord and harm our kids in the process.
- This charge is given to fathers, not mothers. It’s not that mothers don’t play a huge role in this instruction (they most certainly do), this means that fathers as the family head are held responsible for seeing to it that this happens.
- We need to lead by example. We should be able to say to our children “follow me as I follow Christ.”
- This doesn’t mean we must be perfect. We are further along in our journey with Christ and we are teaching them to follow the One we are following.
- This also means that our instruction isn’t merely verbal and intellectual, but physical and practical also.
- We have a great responsibility to reflect the Father well. God has allowed us as dads the priveledge of sharing one of His most precious names – Father. Our kids will inevitably project some of our characteristics onto God when they hear that He is their Father. We need to constantly remind them that He is a perfect Father, unlike us, but when they hear the word “Father” we will no doubt come to mind also.
- Remember that your kids do not belong to you. They are God’s. He has given you stewardship over them. God has entrusted you with their lives to lead, love, and shepherd well – to lead them to Him.
Discipline & Instruction
- The big idea for discipline is course correction, not punishment for wrong. Your job is to keep them on the right course. Discipline is a means of correction and getting them back on the proper course.
- Instruction shouldn’t always be negative – coming only when they are “in trouble.” Yes, correct them and tell them what they have done wrong, but instruction should be taking place all the time. It usually doesn’t sink in when you lecture them after they have done something wrong anyway. Take opportunities throughout the whole day to teach and instruct them – Deut. 6:7
- Fathers are responsible for the instruction of the whole person of their children. In other words, they are to instruct them in more than just the “spiritual stuff.” They need to know about their culture and how a Christian is supposed to act and be in this culture (money, stewardship, sex, marriage, education, diet, exercise, etc.), and how Christ is Lord over it all.
- As their father you need to be very involved in the instruction of your children. Again, you will be held accountable by God for the job that you have done. You will most likely not do the bulk of the actual instruction, but you are the one who needs to make sure that they are getting what the need and what God said they should have. This means that the church, schools, or your wife if you homeschool, are there to help you, not do it all for you.
- Children should be expected to do what they are told, when they are told to do it, and do it with a respectful attitude – Deut. 5:16; Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20.
- This takes training and a lot of patience and hard work on the parents’ part. This is ongoing and takes much prayer to do properly.
- This doesn’t mean that you are angry and cold or harsh toward them at all. In fact they should be hearing the gospel constantly. They should know that their sinful behavior shows they have a disease called sin that they cannot defeat. Because of this they have a need for the Savior, Christ. Your correction should be full of grace because you understand your need for salvation and grace.
- Don’t provoke your children to anger – Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21. Don’t do things to intentionally anger them. Don’t be too harsh in you punishment or discipline. Apologize when you are wrong or have been too harsh. Don’t allow your pride to kill you here. In this way you model repentance. By the way, they probably already knew you were wrong.
- The goal of discipline should always be restoration. Some sin has caused separation between you and your child or between siblings, the discipline or correction you bring should lead to a restored relationship.
A Few Specific Areas of Instruction
Of course there is no way to cover all the areas that they need instruction in, but for our purposes, here are a few areas that should definitely be covered as disciples of Christ. None of this has to be done all at once nor do you have to cover every single thing every day. Remember you are running a marathon. Make a plan. Pace yourself. Be consistent.
- They should know the Word.
- Bible reading, memorization, study, Bible drills, etc.
- If your or your kids’ schedule is too busy for times of Bible instruction…you are too busy.
- They should know what they believe and why they believe it.
- This is instruction in doctrine and theology.
- Your children will develop a theology whether you teach it to them or not.
- As Christian dads we are not allowed to let them “figure things out on their own,” as is popular in today’s spiritual culture.
- If you know the truth and don’t teach it to them, you have not really loved them.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]”There are many worthwhile pursuits in this world, but few of them rise to the level of training our children to follow the Lord and keep His commandments”. – Voddie Baucham[/quote]
- They should know how to pray.
- Pray for and with them a lot. Lead them in prayer of all kinds. Let them pray with and for you.
- Prayer is learned, it doesn’t come naturally.
- Share with them when God answers their prayers and yours.
- They should understand the gospel.
- Show them the gospel story throughout the whole Bible.
- Ask them questions. Answer their questions. Even if you have to say “I don’t know.” It’s okay to not know and be honest about it. But, make an effort to find out the answers to questions you don’t know.
- They need to understand that they are sinners with a deep need for a Savior, they cannot save themselves, and that Jesus has done it all for them.
- If my child is intellegent, well trained, well mannered, gets a college degree, gets a good job, has a nice family, and is a good moral person, yet splits Hell wide open when they die…what good is that?
- You cannot make them believe, but as much as it depends on you, make sure they understand God’s love for them in Christ.
- They should know how to share the gospel and their faith with others.
- They should know how to worship.
- They need to know what worship is and what it looks like.
- They should know of Christians’ obligations to spread the gospel (mission) and care for widows, orphans, and the poor.
- They need to understand discipleship.
- They need to know that discipleship begins with evangelism, not ends with it.
- Model discipleship in your home.
- They need to understand repentance.
- Teach them what it means to humble yourself, admit your sin and turn from it.
- Model repentance for them.
We all need to grow in our parenting skills. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help and counsel from other godly parents who have been where you are and have raised godly kids. Read good books on Christian parenting.