Fathers set the tone of the home. Fathers and husbands are the thermostats of the home, while the moms are the thermometers. The husbands/dads set the temperature, but realize that wives/moms will indicate what exactly that temperature is as well–along with the children.
This past week, we switched over the boiler from summer to winter, throwing it over from cool to heat now that the weather is turning more into fall. Dads, we have a responsibility of switching that lever to the spot where it should moving forward. It’s our responsibility–we must not abdicate that role.
Could this be why Paul only addresses fathers and doesn’t include mothers in Ephesians 6:1-4? I really do not know but this I do know. The addressing of children (like addressing women/wives in the previous paragraph) was quite countercultural. But so, also, were fathers. In the Roman culture, childrearing was entirely the mother’s responsibility. Fathers did not engage in that area.
Paul comes along and said, “Hey guys! Remember in the last portion how the Spirit tells men they are the head and are to provide godly leadership in marriages? That includes parenting. Step up, for God’s sake!”
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.” Children, yes, you are to honor your flawed, fallible, feeble, sometimes frustrating fathers–but dads, that doesn’t give you a blank check. Dads, remove those obstacles preventing that honor. Fathers, you are called to love your children by fulfilling their responsibility.
Tony Merida lists off some ways that parents can anger their children:
- Failing to take into account the fact that they are kids.
- Comparing them to others
- Disciplining them inconsistently
- Failing to express approval, even at small accomplishments
- Failing to express our love to them
- Disciplining them for reasons other than willful disobedience and defiance
- Pressuring them to pursue our goals, not their own
- Withdrawing love from them or overprotecting them.
“Discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Sure, dads are there to show their children how to drive, their boys how to shave and throw/shoot/kick a ball, how to treat their mom, etc. But while these are important, we are called to discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Proverbs 23:13-14 addresses the issue of discipline: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” Some fathers refrain from disciplining their children for various reasons:
- They long to be friends with their children, thus they do not want to do anything that will make their children, not like them or make them sad.
- Some believe it’s not their job to instill their values on their children but rather for children to come up with their own at the earliest of ages.
Not so. Discipline comes from the Greek word paideia which deals with training toward excellence. Body, soul, mind. Here are some ways:
- Physical health: God gave us our bodies–we must take care of them. Sometimes your children will not want to take a bath or brush their teeth. They may not want to eat correctly or exercise. They may struggle to put their clothes away or make their beds (something I still struggle with, sadly). Taking care of your bodies and what you have.
- Intellect: Exposing your children to a wide variety of musical, cinematic, and literary genres helps them recognize the wide creativity image-bearers of God have–and encouraging them to use these things to the glory of God and the good of others is always the ultimate goal.
- Spiritual health though is that which lasts into eternity. The spiritual disciplines: prayer, Scripture reading, discipleship, etc. Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”
God has called us as dads to take responsibility for what He’s called us to do not only for ourselves but for the next generation. Some takeaways:
- We must know, understanding, and apply anything that God tells us about His design and the roles we play because Christ is the head of the church and we as the church are called to submit to him.
- We are called as a church to pour into those young families to help be all that Christ calls them to be–not abandon or abdicate that role because it may not be directly applicable to us.
- Maybe you have been convicted about how you as a child feel about your upbringing or how you as a parent feel about your childrearing patterns (or lack thereof). What do we do? We as children will need to forgive as Christ forgave us. We as parents may need to ask for forgiveness and talk to our grown children about some things that may have left hurts or scars.
Embrace this responsibility. God will give you what you need.