My son-in-law, David, takes his responsibility to share his faith and life with his young son very seriously. This fact is evident whenever we attend church with our daughter, son-in-law, and their children. Last Easter my husband and I attended the Good Friday service with David and our four-year old grandson Seth. It was late and we weren’t sure Seth would stay awake for the entire service, but he did. As the Good Friday evening service progressed, his father quietly leaned over to explain what was happening and why. Seth took it all in quietly. He had little to say that evening. But, as the extended family arrived at his home on Easter he asked, “Papa, is Jesus God?” “Yes!” David said. “What a great question, Seth!”
Are you sharing your faith and life with your children? If not, why not begin today. Here’s why. Did you know that father’s are probably the most important person in their child’s life that will influence their faith? Statistics indicate that forty-three percent (43%) of young adults say they are active in the church today because they had a father who modeled the faith. Five percent (5%) are active in church today because they talked about their faith with their fathers! Father’s need to model their faith and talk about faith issues with their children.
The father’s influence on their child’s faith and life is critical. A father’s relationship with his son or daughter is one of the most important factors in whether the child stays close to the Lord throughout his or her life.
How is your relationship with your child these days? Do you spend time together? Eat meals together? Talk during these meals about the day’s events? Do you ask your children questions about their day and listen attentively when they have something to share? Do you attend church together? Do you share your life and faith?
Eph. 6:4 states, “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Have you ever provoked your child to anger? Maybe by nagging them? Or by losing control? Or by not listening? Learn to say, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me?”
Maybe you are a father that has never talked to your child about faith issues. How do you begin? Begin when they are small. Teach them to pray at mealtime and bedtime. Read them Bible storybooks appropriate to their age. Sing Christian songs together as you travel. Take them to church and Sunday school. Talk to them about the Lord as you walk and talk about daily events. “Michael, look at that tree and its beautiful leaves. Didn’t God make a beautiful world for us to enjoy?” “Annie, sit on my lap. Which story from the children’s Bible would you like me to read tonight?” “Andy how was your Sunday school class today? Can you tell me what the lesson was about?”
As they mature, encourage them to have private devotional time with the Lord and to read the Bible on their own. Give them a devotional book to read. Go biking with them or take long walks with them. As you travel, talk about God’s grace and forgiveness that is theirs through Christ.
What can we learn about fatherhood from God’s Word? We learn that the Lord uses imperfect people to accomplish His work! And that many well-known Bible characters made mistakes as fathers! Let’s look at a few of them and evaluate what they did right and what they did wrong as fathers.
King David wasn’t perfect! He committed adultery with another man’s wife. When he learned she was pregnant with his child, he sent her husband into a battle hoping he would be killed (2 Sam. 11)! His sins caused him much grief and sorrow!
Did you know David had six wives and many children? Although David loved his children, the Bible indicates that he did not discipline them effectively. A Godly father certainly loves his children, but also disciples them! Let’s review what happened with some of David’s children and how his lack of discipline caused serious problems.
One of David’s sons, Amnon, raped his step sister Tamar. David was furious but did nothing (2 Sam. 13:21). David’s son Absalom, Tamar’s natural brother, murdered Amnon (2 Sam. 13:23-29, 32-33). David still did nothing. Later Absalom conspires against David and usurps the Kingdom (2 Sam. 15 and 18:1-17). When Absalom dies, David grieves publicly.
Maybe you’ve been like David. You love your children, but you haven’t discipled them. Ask the Lord to help you become a better father. And remember that discipline is not punishment. Discipline should be constructive and based on love.
Discipline is training a child in mind and character to enable him to become a self-controlled, constructive member of society. This involves training through every type of communication. It includes guidance by example, modeling, verbal instruction, written requests, teaching, providing learning and fun experiences. Punishment is only one of many ways of discipline and is the most negative format. Guidance toward right thought and action is far superior to punishment for wrong actions.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches what a father’s love should be like. And it teaches us about God’s unconditional love for us. The father in this parable loved both of his sons. He didn’t become angry when his younger son decided to take his possessions and leave home. The father’s heart was probably broken, but he allowed him to leave.
When the prodigal son finally came to his senses and returned home, he expected to be treated like a servant. But instead he received his father’s undeserved love. The father saw his son from a distance, ran to him, threw his arms around him and kissed him! This helps us learn that fathers can hug and kiss their sons! Fathers should be compassionate and tender. The father demonstrated his love by organizing a feast, killing the fattened calf, and putting a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
But, when the older son learns of the celebration, he becomes angry with his father. After all, he had stayed and worked hard all these years for his father. The father did not become angry with this older son either. Instead he says, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. “ (Luke 15:21)
Sharing your faith and life with sons and daughters is not a one-time event. It’s a lifetime commitment! Pray daily for your children and ask for God’s help in meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Confess your sins to the Lord and your children. Ask the Lord to help you become a better father. Pray that your children will know Christ and that the Word of God will dwell in their hearts. Pray that they will be shielded from dangerous beliefs and practices.
Some of you reading this column may feel like a failure. If you are feeling hopeless, bring your hopelessness and concerns to the foot of the cross. There is forgiveness, and hope for fathers! Jesus has taken all yours sins to the cross. Those in the past and even those you committed yesterday and today. Confess yours sins to God and receive His forgiveness. It is new every morning. Then place your hope in Christ! God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
The above article is part of the book Witnessing—A Lifestyle written by Kay Meyer.