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.