Dads: the key to healthy families and churches
Dads: the key to healthy families and churches
1. We’ve all been watching our favorite TV program and it is suddenly interrupted with some late breaking news. Lately it has been a weather advisory of impending stormy weather. Sometimes I’ve said that could wait until the commercial break. They really didn’t have to interrupt for that. This morning I’m interrupting our HS series to turn our attention toward dads. Couldn’t it wait for a couple more weeks until the series is over and then deal with dads? Like many of the weather advisory that breaks in, for many viewers it could wait unless you happen to be in the area where the storm it about to unload its fury. Then you’re glad someone made that choice so you could run for safety.
2. That is the case this morning. We are all in the viewing area of fathers. Many of us are one. Others of you are “will be” fathers –you will be someday. A father has influenced all of us. For some, that influence is good and cherished. For others, that influence may be negative and unwanted. Dads, men, boys, let’s take a look at what the bible tells us is our role and responsibility so our children might cherish our influence.
3. Isn’t it interesting how differently society views moms and dads? Mother’s day overload the floral shops, the phone lines and the restaurants. Father’s day…well. I was reading that a regional telephone company said that the number of calls on Father’s day are increasing. In the report, they apologized for the delay in compiling the statistics. They said the extra billing of these calls had slowed down their process. Most of the children calling their dad called collect. Dad, just called to tell you how much I love you. Thanks for paying for the call. We take Dad out on Father’s day and just to show him just how much we care, we let him pay the bill.
4. The bible suggests to us that dads are the key to healthy families and healthy churches. James Dobson of Focus on the Family listed some of the distributing results of the 2000 census. Traditional families—a dad married to the children’s mom—dropped below 25% of households. Households led by single mothers increased 25%. Households led by single fathers increased 62%. Households headed by unmarried partners grew by almost 72% from 1990. Dobson concluded by saying “imagine a world where nothing is stable and where people think primarily about themselves and their own self-preservation. In short, the demise of families will produce a chaotic world that will be devastating to children.”
5. It is ironic when we look into our bapist churches where we emphasize the biblical directed male leadership of pastors and deacons, we discover women far outnumber the men. In our church, it is about 65% adult women and 35% adult men. In our church married women who attend our church without their husbands, outnumber men who attend without their wives by about 5 to 1. The bible suggests the father, dad, is the key to healthy families and healthy churches. Men are the key to a turnaround in our families and churches. So we interrupt our HS series in order to draw attention to the vital role we men play.
6. Our text is one verse but if we men apply its teaching, we can begin the revolution for healthier families and churches.
1. Look at our verse. To whom does Paul address? Fathers. Many of us use male oriented language when we really are addressing everyone. For example, we say all of mankind when we really mean all humankind. Sometimes the bible does this. It will say brothers when it is obvious from the context it means both men and women. This is not the case here. Here the word is fathers. It is not parents. It is the masculine term meaning fathers. What this passage says applies to parents but father has the biblical mandate is obey it. Why?
2. Paul directs this to fathers because of the key and vital role of fathers in the home. In the Roman world in which Paul was ministering, fathers had awesome power. When a child was born, it was brought to the father. If he picked the child up, that meant he accepted the child. If he did not, it meant he rejected the child. The child could be sold, given away or even killed by exposure. While these are monstrous acts, they were legal acts in his day. Paul writes to fathers to use their authority to encourage and build up their children, all their children. God places men as the head of the family. The father has the power of influence the family toward God. Dad, we are responsible to God for applying this verse of our families. He will hold us accountable.
3. We all can agree that what Paul says in this verse both mom and dad can do. Parents have the role of raising up our children so they become responsible adult believers. The responsibility and accountability that makes that happen rests upon the father. With that in mind, let’s see 4 roles that Paul highlights here that make dad the key to healthy families.
1. Dads, we are leaders of our home. Paul doesn’t say this in this verse per say. He does say it in 5:23 when outlines God’s organizational chart for the family. He says Christ is at the top, next is the hus, then the wife and obviously underneath that is children. We are the head of the household. The leader. No leader does all the work of the organization. He or she is the motivator, the innovator, the one that sets the direction and vision and is the one responsible for the success. When a baseball team consistently loses, the owner replaces all the players. Nope. The manager and some coaches have the opportunity to explore employment alternatives. This reminds us the importance of the leadership role.
2. The bible says the husband, the father, is the leader of the home. God designates the father as the leader. We can question God’s wisdom and suggest God had a senior moment when he decided that. Nevertheless, men, we have the parking spot. With the nameplate on the door. We are the CEO of our family. With that goes the accountability for what happens in our family. Leadership does not mean master or dictator. It does not mean the father is the king and the family is his subjects to rule over at his heart’s desires. They are not slaves. It doesn’t mean he makes all the decisions. Good leadership involves delegation. It doesn’t mean we’re always right. We fathers, don’t always seek God. We make mistakes. Still we are responsible to God how we lead our home to achieve the purposes outlined here.
3. Sadly, many men abdicate their role. Some men say or imply to their wives, I’ll work, you raise the kids, make the decisions, take them to church and have supper on the table when I come home and by the way you may have to work too. The statistics I mentioned earlier from the 2000 census suggest fathers we are not doing a good job at leading our homes. The traditional family is declining while single mom led families and unmarried partner families are increasing.
4. Fathers, we have tremendous influence in the way our family goes. In the OT, when Eli allowed his 2 sons to blaspheme their role as priests, God held him accountable. David spoiled his son Absalom rotten. He, David, not his wife, was accountable for the results. I’ve shared this before but it is worth hearing again. Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker from Dallas, tells of the following survey. When mom and dad took their children to church, 76% of their children accepted Christ. If only the father took them, 55% of their children accepted Christ. If only the mother took them, only 15% of their children accepted Christ. If neither parent went to church, only 9% became Christians. Did you hear the influence of dad? If he brings the kids and mom stays at home then 1 out of 2 of them become Christians. If he stays at home and mom brings the kids to church then only about 1 out 6 of them become Christians. That is a chilling statistic. Dad, do you see the importance of your influence as leader? If any dad has any concern for their children’s spiritual well being, this report should cause them to be in church every week with their kids.
5. Experience confirms this. Rarely do you see a father active in church without his family joining him. Routinely we see the opposite. An active mom faithfully bringing her children. Thank God for that. How it encourages us to pray for our men folk, they become the leaders of the home as God designed. Dads, do you see how key you are to healthy families and healthy churches?
6. How can our church apply this? One way is this. Our children and youth ministry must include ministry to parents. One practical application is that our children and youth teams look over the rolls of those involved. Identify the absentee dads. Consistently pray for them by name at meetings and in prayer times. Pray for their salvation. If they are believers, pray they’ll become involved. Plan 1 or 2 opportunities per year to involve them so we can get to know them and they us.
1. Fathers we are the leaders of our homes. We are also the encouragers. Paul states this in the negative. He says, don’t exasperate. Don’t make your children angry by the way you treat them. Don’t provoke your children to wrath. In Col 3:21, Paul says don’t provoke your children lest they become discouraged. Here he shows us the opposite of provoking or exasperating our children is encouraging them. Don’t nag or aggravate your children. IF you are too hard to please, they may want to stop trying.
2. Paul doesn’t say this is a good idea. He doesn’t offer this as a suggestion. He commands it. Don’t provoke is not optional for the Christian dad. Don’t make such unreasonable demands or petty rules that there is no chance for our children to please you. We discourage our children by say one thing and doing another. We discourage them by always blaming or criticizing and never praising. We discourage them with inconsistent or unfair discipline. We discourage them when we show favoritism among our children. We discourage them by making promises but not keeping them. We discourage them by making light of their problems. When we discourage them, we do 2 things. First, we open them up for easy prey for Satan. He’ll pounce on their discouragement and lead them astray. Second, it forces them to find an environment where they are accepted and that might not where we want them or with people we prefer them to be with.
3. We can encourage our children by spending them with them. We’ve heard various stats that say dads spend mini seconds with their children. Or we debate quality time vs quantity. I’ve read this over the years from various sources that our children spell love T-I-M-E. It is a lot easier to buy them a computer game than it is to spend time with them. Dads, the potential consequence is too great for us to allow TV or computer to be a substitute dad. We encourage our children by listening to them. How often do we automatically say no the request without really listening? Proverbs 18:13 (NLT) What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts. The message: Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. We encourage our children by understanding their problems. Our children live in a world of tremendous peer pressure. A couple weeks ago Frankie and I went to the Trustees award for NW. They recognized the achievements of students in academics and sports. One of the middle school 8th grade girl’s basketball team won at district of high level. I noticed the team members were all dressed pretty much the same. What pressure that must be and at such a young age. Understanding doesn’t mean we agree with but we have opportunity to walk in their shoes for a while. That might help us encourage rather than exasperate.
IV. NURTURE THROUGH DISCIPLINE
1. Dad we are the leader. We are our children’s cheerleader. We are their encourager. Paul says we are raise them to maturity through discipline and godly instruction. We are to bring them up. That means we are to nourish them toward maturity. We are to grow them toward what we want them to be. We are to nourish them physically and spiritually where they become responsible Christian adults.
2. Dads, Paul gives us 2 areas to focus on. Bring them up in training or discipline. If we left our children to themselves, they become rebels. All our children are cute and adorable but they are sinners. Parents, how many had to teach your children to be selfish? Look at any 2 year old. How many had to teach your children to lie? That comes naturally because they are bent toward sin. A few years ago, one foreign visitor to the US said: everything is an American home is controlled by switches except the children. Actually discipline is a way to encourage our children. It establishes boundaries. Boundaries give our children freedom and security. Discipline is training. Some would suggest that boundaries stifle creativity. God doesn’t seem to think so. He reminds us his disciplines us because he loves us. Proverbs 13:24 (NLT) If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don’t love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them.
3. There is a difference in discipline and punishment. Punishment inflicts a penalty. If you speed, you get a ticket. Discipline promotes growth. Punishment makes you pay a price for doing something wrong. Discipline builds you up to handle issues of life.
4. One thing I wished I had done much more as a Dad in discipline was to set boundaries before an incident. If we establish what the boundaries are and the consequences if those boundaries are crossed, we remove so much emotion, harsh words and anger from our homes. The boundaries communicate love. They say I care what you do, who you are with and where you go. They also give our children the opportunity to make choices. If they choose to go outside the boundary, the consequence is knows. Then we consistently enforce the consequence. Dads, why not sit down with your wife and your children, develop some boundaries and the consequences. Then be consistent in training. Be consistent in applying the consequence. You don’t have to argue. You don’t have to get angry. The child can’t say that’s not fair. I didn’t know.
V. NURTURE BY INSTRUCTION
1. Dads we are to train our children through instruction. Instruction involves correction. It involves modeling, teaching and encouraging positive behavior. If we want our children to grow up to be Christians, then we be one. If we want our children to grow up honest, then we be honest before them. Our actions speak so much louder than our words. I recall several years ago seeing a documentary about the alarming divorce rate. The interviewer was talking to children of divorced. They were standing in front of their house and looking around the neighborhood. Most couples on the street were divorced and remarried. I remember one of the teens responding to the question about their views on divorce. They said the adults don’t play by the rules why should I? The power of example.
2. Notice Paul specifies the instruction. Instruct them in the Lord. Paul could have said it this way: Dad, you are the priest of your household. You have the responsibility to make sure your children receive religious training. God inspired the Scriptures to teach us the right way to think, the truth to believe and the right way to live. You are the priest of your home to make sure your children learn that. I mentioned on Mother’s day that the home is the theological school where we learn about God and Christian values. Dads while we are not responsible to do all the religious training in the home, we are responsible to make sure it is done. Do you want the TV, day care center or school to teach your children values to live by? They’ll learn values. It is just the matter of where and what kind.
1. How can our church apply this? I’ve mentioned one way already. We pray for the dads of our church. We pray for them to become Christians if they are not and pray for them to live out their faith if they are. Within team meetings or SS classes, pray for Dads so they’ll have the strength and courage to assume their biblical roles.
2. Secondly, our children’s and youth ministry broader their ministry to include parents, particularly those moms or dads that are not involved. Plan an event where they can be involved.
3. Establish an effective men’s ministry. You men who are strong in the faith become mentors and encouragers for men not so strong. Men are you interested in such a group. See Clinton Brock, Bubba chandler or James Hupp.
4. Dads. Fathers, be the leader of your home. Encourage your children. Nourish them toward maturity as a person and as a Christian thru discipline and instruction. If you and I do this then we can change the face of family and church. We will give our children a heritage that they can build their lives on.
5. Being a dad today is a tough job but there is no job with greater dividends and retirement program. God has given us tremendous resources thru the Scripture, books by Christian specialists, other parents to do what He commands us to do. I would challenge you to ask God for wisdom. Map out a plan of what you want your child to mature into, develop a strategy to get there and then implement. One day your child will make it all worth it by saying thanks dad.