The priorities of the Bible for divine fathers

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Men are often masters of the delegation. Give them a task and they can quickly find the right person for them. A simple call? Let the office assistant make the connection. House work? One of the children can do it.

Delegation is a wonderful thing – but what about abdication? What if we relinquish our responsibility?

This is largely the sad state of Christian fatherhood today. Fathers should feed and exhort their children in the Lord Jesus. However, in a time of professional advancement and unprecedented free time, the daily task of the father found too many men unimpressive. We look up and down in the pews and see women, mothers and single women in our churches, but only a few fathers.

Learn about the Bible's instructions for fathers by listening to the “Fathers” message in our homily archive. listen

Many delegating fathers have given up their high authority. They have left their work to others, with catastrophic consequences: rising suicide rates among minors, criminal activity and violence, drug abuse and sexual immorality. We have created a wriggling, confused, and self-destructive generation. (This is not an exaggeration, but the completion of any number of objective studies.)

An old problem

However, confusion about paternity is hardly new. When Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus, his words formed a remarkable contrast to the world of Roman culture in the first century. The Roman father was an autocrat. He could order his children around as if they were cattle. The laws supported his ability to sell them as slaves if he so wished. In cases of extreme discipline, he could even use the death penalty.


"If we want to face this great challenge of parenting, we have to be in the Lord ourselves.

Against this disturbing background, Paul presents a strikingly different parental perspective. He offers a radical proposal that would make fathers of the first century glow in a dark time, just like in the 21st century: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; Instead, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. "1

Paul had previously stated that our model for fatherhood is God the Father Himself.2 The nice thing about this principle is that no earthly model is necessary, be it from experience or from the curriculum. We could be surrounded by the most dilapidated role models of our fathers, and we could still excel.

Let's find out how we should go about it.

Avoid trouble that emits

Paul begins with a negative command: "Do not provoke your children to anger"; Otherwise, as Paul writes elsewhere, they are "discouraged". 3rd

Few of us would admit to leaving every morning to anger or embitter our sons and daughters. Nevertheless, we often do this without ever intending to. I can think of eight surefire ways I have provoked my own children to anger:

  1. By making demands or making comments without considering their inexperience and immaturity
  2. By treating them harshly and cruelly
  3. By ridiculing them in front of others – especially peers
  4. By showing preference and not making helpful comparisons
  5. By not giving adequate consent
  6. Through arbitrary exercise of discipline
  7. By neglecting them and treating them as intruders or distractions
  8. By pushing them towards my own goals rather than their own

And this is not even a complete list! We can be devilishly creative if we abandon God and his desire to build strong children. We must therefore be all the more careful.

The care and nutrition of children

What about the positive side? The alternative to provoking and discouraging children is, of course, to encourage them by following the biblical command to "educate them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

The Greek word translated here as "bring it up" is very important; it means to feed or to feed. So the duty to feed and feed the child lies primarily with the father. (This does not affect or in any way affect the critical work of mothers!)

How and what he feeds them is noted by a father's children. For example, if the father continually encourages and encourages the spiritual development of his children by reading books, asking questions, and stimulating thought, the children strive to grow spiritually.


"If spirituality is not a priority in a family's balanced diet, we cannot expect our children to be interested in spiritual values ​​for livelihood.

The food that he considers unnecessary is also noted. What if the father only serves spiritual food occasionally? Children's eyes are missing nothing. They know ambivalence when they see it. If spirituality is not a priority in a family's balanced diet, we cannot expect our children to have a spiritual livelihood as they begin to grow and feed themselves.

Training with discipline

In addition to the idea of ​​feeding and feeding, Paul provides two other key words. The first is "discipline," and the best picture of what it means can be found in the Book of Hebrews:

Because they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplined us for our best so that we could share his holiness. At the moment, every discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it brings the peaceful fruit of justice to those who have trained it

Children often miss the double meaning here: discipline can be just as uncomfortable for those who are disciplined as for those who are disciplined. However, Paul says that responsibility cannot be avoided. Training always includes rules, regulations, rewards and penalties if it is to be of integrity and effectiveness. 5

Nevertheless, discipline has its limits. Sometimes parents just have to punish wrongdoing. However, sometimes we should never punish, for example, when we are upset, our pride is hurt, or we lose control. When we make this common but harmful mistake, it is important that we find our children before bed, bring them closer to us, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. As fathers, we should always be humble to apologize to our children if we have wronged them.

Clever instruction

If "discipline" is what we do with the child, then "instruction" has to do with what we say. "Instruction" means establishing principles that a child's mind can understand, and placing limits and standards on his tiny life.

Sunday school lessons are wonderful. Teaching at godly Christian schools is also an advantage. Ultimately, however, the responsibility for leadership lies with the father. If his instruction is divine and complete, the result will be a well-rounded child capable of surviving the storms of life.

Some may say that a father's divine education and instruction means that he "penetrates his child's mind." This is Patent Hogwash as it always was. Children have to penetrate their minds. (Adults too!) Children do not need indoctrination, but stimulation. Because they are intrinsically fascinated by the subjects that fascinate us, we have to arouse our own excitement for the things of God in them.

Now it has to be established that children need enough "scope" to deal with problems themselves. The dining table should be a place where questions can be asked and doubts raised. Children must be able to make their beliefs their own while working out their beliefs with fear and trembling – all under the watchful eye of a loving father.

Fatherhood and the Rule of Christ

Paul's last three words should not be easily overlooked: “from the Lord”. Taken together, these three words are the last word. When everything is said and done, all of our discipline and instruction must be in the Lord – and if we are to face this great challenge of parenting, we must be in the Lord ourselves.

We will teach our children many things, from baseball to baking and from fishing to fashion. Our lessons will range from the sublime to the ridiculous. However, this is based on the rule of Christ. Fathers are teachers, but God is the headmaster. If we exercise discipline, it should be God's discipline – and if we smile proudly of our children, we know that God smiles with us.

This content was taken from Alistair Begg from Parenting God & # 39; s Way and can be ordered through our online shop

God's way of parents

1) Ephesians 6: 4 (ESV). See also Colossians 3:21. 2) See Ephesians 3: 14-15. 3) Colossians 3:21 (ESV). 4) Hebrews 12: 10-11 (ESV). 5) See Proverbs 13:24 and 22:15.

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