Four Questions from Fathers
The biography of Enoch in Genesis 5 ends differently than all the other men mentioned in this chapter. Moses writes that all the other men lived to a certain age and then died. But of him, Moses writes, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
G. Campbell Morgan explains it this way: “Enoch was a man who used to go for long walks with God. How did it end? One day they walked on and on and on and when they had gone so far, God turned and said to him, 'Enoch, you’re a long way from home, why don’t you come on home with me?'”
His son Methuselah at first would have wondered why his dad never came home that day, but would later come to learn that, in fact, Enoch did go home that day.
As we follow Enoch’s example in our lives, and define our legacy as “walking with God,” I want to answer some questions that I’ve received from fathers throughout my pastoral ministry.
WHAT SHOULD I WATCH OUT FOR THAT WOULD HINDER MY ABILITY TO SPIRITUALLY LEAD MY CHILDREN?
Men fail to spiritually lead when they fail to recognize that they have primary responsibility to shepherd their children spiritually.
I’ve observed that the number one hesitancy for men taking this responsibility is fear of failure. Men might feel spiritually inadequate to lead, ill-equipped to take this responsibility, or fearful that their failure will result in eternal harm to their children.
So, they pass the ball and assume that a Christian schoolteacher, youth pastor, or mentor will pick up the slack and take the responsibility for them.
Let me encourage you: taking spiritual responsibility doesn’t require a seminary degree or extensive Bible training. Reading a passage of Scripture with your family, discussing it, and then guiding your family in prayer is a great place to start!
HOW DO I CHOOSE A GOOD CHURCH FOR MY FAMILY?
Many churches invest so much of their financial and volunteer resources into children’s ministry because they know that a children’s program is the number one factor families consider when choosing a church.
However, basing your decision on a children’s program approaches this issue in the wrong order.
You should be looking for a Bible-teaching church that is healthy and well-led. As a father, your primary question should be: “Will I be taught God’s Word and challenged to grow as a godly man?” Secondly, “Will my wife find spiritual encouragement and teaching as well?” Remember, your children’s growth is not the responsibility of the church or a Sunday school teacher—it’s yours. When you are being spiritually refined and biblically challenged, your personal growth will overflow into the lives of your children as you lead them well at home.
HOW DO I TEACH MY CHILDREN TO LOVE THE CHURCH?
Your children are watching you; they’re going to learn many things by imitating your actions and attitudes. While it isn’t guaranteed, your child’s love for the church is most significantly influenced by your attitude toward church.
Frankly, Sunday should be an important day in your week. Your genuine love for the assembly, love for the preaching of God’s Word and love for serving the Lord by serving the body will make the Lord's Day a singularly important and meaningful time on your family's calendar.
By the way, if a child’s soccer tournament or your own golf outing is justifiable reason to skip church, your children will see sports and recreation taking a priority over the assembly; they may grow up and make the same decisions.
Life is about choices and your children are watching you make yours.
WHAT BOUNDARIES SHOULD I SET FOR MY KIDS?
While the responsibility for our children ultimately rests with us, part of being a good parent includes helping your children learn to become wise decision-makers on their own.
Obviously, boundaries change with time, and some are obvious. When children are young, we do practically everything for them. We dress them, feed them, tell them when to go to sleep and not to play in the street. The boundary is typically the back-yard fence.
But as they grow, topics become more complicated: getting/ using a cell phone, movie and entertainment choices, clothing guidelines and allotting time with friends—and who can become their friends. Great discernment is needed by parents.
Let me provide two brief guidelines regarding this issue:
First, reward maturity with expanded boundaries. There is no age-limit for determining the guidelines for free time on the weekends or the amount of time playing video games. These decisions must be made based on the child’s maturity and their capacity for increased responsibility.
And second, even as boundaries are expanded, they can still be tightened when needed. Sometimes a child fails, and a freedom they earned will need to be restricted again. Your child will view this as a harsh punishment; no one wants to give up their use of a computer or cell phone after having enjoyed its benefits.
A wise and godly father knows that what is best for his children isn’t what will make them happy, but what will lead them toward holiness.
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