Tag Archives: Ephesians 6:4

A Father’s Responsibility to his Children

     The Bible has a great deal to say about parenting: both positive and negative. It is complete with examples and details galore as to what God considers to be effective parenting and what will leave us lacking as we bring forth the next generation. It is sad that our world considers the role of fathers to be a largely unnecessary one. Everyone knows a child needs his mother, but few seem to believe that the child equally needs his father. While many in our world would limit the father’s responsibilities to his children to such things as money, food, and clothing, the Bible is very explicit that his responsibility goes far deeper than these surface issues. Look at what God considers to be a father’s responsibility to his children.

     Train them. Most are familiar with Solomon’s admonition to, “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Pro. 22:6), but have you ever considered the greater structure of that statement? The book of Proverbs is written as wisdom handed down from a father to his son (Pro. 1:8). It is a father’s work to “train” his son in the wisdom needed for life. The word translated “train up” is the Hebrew term chanak. It means: to dedicate or instruct. Fathers need to be seriously focused on dedicating their children to the path they need to take with time, care, and preparation.

     Raise them. In our world the mother is the parent generally considered responsible for the raising of the children. Studies are showing that more than 60% of American children are being raised in single-parent homes and the overwhelming majority of them are with their mother. Yet, even in homes where both parents are present, it is most often the mother who is given the responsibility of raising the children. On more occasions than I care to count I have heard phrases such as: “I leave the raising of the kids to their mother,” proceed from the mouth of a father. Fathers are often deemed too busy, or maybe more accurately, too disinterested to be bothered with such a “woman’s responsibility.”

     But God does not consider it to be the mother’s responsibility alone. When God said: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), he did not make a mistake. Consider the words translated as, “bring them up.” In the original language it is ektrephete auta, meaning “nourish them” or “nurture them.” God has placed the responsibility of nurturing and nourishing our children in the commandments and training of the Lord squarely on the shoulders of fathers. Most of the problems our families and society encounter today is rooted in the dereliction of duty when it comes to fathers raising their children. If our children are untrained, unruly, and unprepared to serve God or benefit man, it is the father upon whom God places the blame.

      Lead them. It is high time fathers started stepping back up to the plate in leading their families, especially in the spiritual realm. For far too many generations the mother has been forced to be the spiritual leader in the home. She has been the one making sure everyone is there for services, reading her Bible with the children, and striving to be at every church event she can. Meanwhile, dad can’t hardly get out of bed on Sunday morning, would rather be hunting than serving, and has not read the Bible to his children since who knows when. Dads, if I had a dollar for every time a Christian wife told me that she wished her husband would take the lead in serving God and teaching the children about Him in their home, my savings account would be vastly improved.

      God said of Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19). Abraham was the leader of his household and God respected him for it. Have we earned the same respect from God?

     I do not write these things as a perfect father. There is no such thing on this physical world and I fall short far too often for my own liking. Nevertheless, dads, these are our responsibilities. These are things God has put on our shoulders. They are also things our wives need us to place on our own shoulders and stop trying to add extra weight to their already heavy loads. Let us, as husbands and fathers, fulfill the expectations of God and bring glory to Him by letting our children see His love in us.

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A Lasting Conversation

Last night I was driving home and my four-year-old son was the only person in the car with me. As we chatted about various biblical things my son said, “Dad, when I get in trouble I pray to God for forgiveness, just like you say in your sermons.” Now I am smiling, because I know the heart of that young boy and have no doubt that what he is saying is the truth.

However, his next words brought tears to my eyes. He said: “But Dad, you always do good, so you don’t have to do that anymore, do you?” If only he knew. We spent the next few minutes talking about the fact that, even though Dad wants to do right and tries to do right, there are still times where he does things wrong and has to ask both God and others for forgiveness. We talked about the fact that nobody is perfect (except God, he reminded me) and we all have times where we need to ask for forgiveness.

My son’s words had a very deep impact with me last night, one that I am sure will last for a long time to come. For, you see, he will soon enough come to realize that Dad is not perfect; he makes mistakes, reacts incorrectly, has lapses in judgment, and at times falls flat on his face in failure. Nevertheless, I pray that he always sees me trying to do good.

One of the greatest things that should give us pause in our decision-making is asking ourselves the question, “What if my children saw/heard me doing this?” What would I be teaching them and what would they see in me? Part of my responsibility as a father is to bring my children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). However, that requires my willingness to do far more than just tell them what they should do; I must show them the right path by the life that I lead. They have to see their father striving to do good, as well as see him take responsibility for his mistakes and be willing to repent when he does wrong.

Parents, never forget to whom your young children look as a standard of righteousness. Realize that, even though the time will come where they will understand your flaws and shortcomings, in those early years, in their young minds, you are the greatest servant God has ever had. Use that time of influence to teach them, talk to them seriously about God, his Word, and the responsibilities that come with it. Most important of all: let them see you live it. You will never do so perfectly and that is okay. Let them see you try your best, take responsibility for your worst, and in your successes and failures let them see you give God the glory of your praise and service.

Finally, as a daily prayer, let us say: “Father, help me to be the parent my children think I am, the spouse my other half needs me to be, and the child that you want me to be.”

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