Being A Father
It is not shocking for us to hear stories about children growing up in homes without their fathers being present. This all too common occurrence in today’s culture is often looked upon as the new normal. The National Center on Fathering website echoes this tragedy, “More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Millions more have dads who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency. The impact of fatherlessness can be seen in our homes, schools, hospitals, and prisons.” God has placed men, fathers, in the home for a very important and powerful task.
Paul in Ephesians 6:4 emphasizes this truth, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”God’s blueprint for the family is for a father to be in the home, and He lays out clearly what fathers are to do. Last week we started looking at Paul’s commands to fathers with, “do not provoke your children to anger.”In addition to that, God gives us another way fathers can be actively involved in their children lives, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”This command is contrasted with the other by the conjunction but moving from the negative and to the positive. Fathers are to be nurtures rather than overbearing beasts.A father’s job is much like a gardener. A gardener nurtures young plants to grow into mature fruitful plants. This is how God intends fathers to raise children.
Paul emphasizes this with a present imperative, “bring them up,”meaning to raise them up. It has the idea we are to nourish our children. We are to nourish our children with two basic influences: discipline and instruction. Paul sets those out for us by using the preposition “in.”We are to “bring them up in”the sphere of discipline and instruction.
I want us to look at just one of these today. Paul uses the word discipline. The Greek word is paideia which means discipline, instruction, and or training. Fathers are called by God to discipline their children so they might learn what is pleasing to God. It is the father’s job to train their children through discipline. So how can we as fathers take this truth and apply it in our own homes?
Here is what the Bible says:
- Don’t withhold discipline:The writer of Hebrews teaches us that God disciplines those whom He loves, and if we love our children, we must discipline them. Solomon in Proverbs 23:13-14 states, “Do not hold back discipline from the child. Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.”Many parents need to hear this truth because many have an idea that discipline with a rod in some way will hurt or warp their children. In God’s wisdom, pain placed in the right place is the greatest teaching tool to turn that child’s heart away from sin. To withhold discipline is to be an unloving father.
- Be consistent: We can discipline our children as God desires, but we lose ground if we are not following through as we should. Depending on the age of your children you will either be very busy with the rod if your children are older (ages13-18), you will need to learn unique and wise ways to be consistent with discipline. Part of being consistent is helping your children know what brings discipline into their lives. Here are some biblical ground rules: 1) Obey your parents (Eph. 6:1). Teach your children that if they do not obey the first time, it will lead to discipline. 2) Always tell the truth (Prov. 6:19). Teach your children that honesty is always the best policy. 3) Be kind (Eph. 4:32). At an early age teach them to love God and to love their neighbor. This should happen within the context of the family: teach them to obey, tell the truth, and be kind to their siblings. These rules help children to know when they will be consistently disciplined.
May we strive, as fathers, to follow this wise teaching so that we can be what God has called us to be in the home, good and godly fathers.