As Taught by Dad
ANGER VS. ANNOYANCE (as taught by dad)
A young girl who was writing a paper for school came to her father and asked, “Dad, what is the difference between anger and annoyance?”
The father replied, “It is mostly a matter of degree. Let me show you what I mean.” With that the father went to the telephone and dialed a number at random. To the man who answered the phone, he said, “Hello, is Melvin there?”
The man answered, “There is no one living here named Melvin. Why don’t you learn to look up numbers before you dial?”
“See,” said the father to his daughter. “That man was not a bit happy with our call. He was probably very busy with something and we annoyed him. Now watch….” The father dialed the number again. “Hello, is Melvin there?” asked the father.
“Now look here!” came the heated reply. “You just called this number and I told you that there is no Melvin here! You’ve got lot of guts calling again!” The receiver slammed down hard.
The father turned to his daughter and said, “You see, that was anger. Now I’ll show you what annoyance means.” He dialed the same number, and when a violent voice roared, “Hello!”
The father calmly said, “Hello, this is Melvin. Have there been any calls for me?”
This is how Fathers can Raise Godly Children!
I’ve been getting lot’s of email lately from men asking me, “How does one raise Godly children”? I sense these fathers are longing for me to give them a formula for parenting so that their children will behave and grow up to love and respect the Lord. I am no expert, however, as most seasoned dads understand, parenting cannot be reduced to a formula. Being a father requires a great amount of wisdom that only God can give. And there is only one way for men to gain this kind of wisdom. It’s obtained by having a personal relationship with God. It’s gained by knowing God and knowing the heart of The Perfect Father.
Let’s get one thing clear, this is not an all inclusive parenting manual! This is a list of extremely important biblical points that my wife and I have considered as we attempt to raise three boys. We have heard all sorts of advice about raising three boys. Everything from “keep them on a short leash” to “your only job until they are 18, is to keep them alive”!
My wife and I are the first to admit that we have made mistakes along the way and God has gently nudged us through our mistakes. I hope that you will benefit from those things that God has revealed to us as parents and that these nuggets of Godly wisdom will bless your family.
1) Love God Passionately!
In Deuteronomy 6:5-6, God instructs parents: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
I find it interesting that before God commands you to diligently teach you children (v. 7), He first instructs you to passionately love Him (vv. 5-6)! God wants you to understand that you cannot transfer to your children what you do not possess yourself. In other words, you teach what you know and you disciple what you are. The foundation for both a great marriage and successful parenting is to love the Lord supremely above every other love.
2) Strengthen your marriage first!
Don’t waste your time reading a bunch of parenting books or going to parenting classes until you have spent time reading books and attending conferences that will solidify your relationship to your wife. If your marriage is not sound, your parenting skills will be hindered. It is not easy to raise children when you have a strong marriage, but nearly impossible when you have a shaky marriage!
If you are a single dad or you are divorced, pray for strength and wisdom to show respect and avoid negative put downs about your baby-mama. Also, if your ex-wife is pursuing an ungodly lifestyle and she has visitation rights, or custody, you must prepare your children to respond respectfully and righteously in the undesirable environment.
3) Make the Word of God Your Standard.
We are living in a day that offers as many views on parenting as there are parents. I have noticed that many of us will parent based on tradition (how we were reared by our parents or grandparents), books written by a children’s psychologist, or advice from pediatricians such as Dr. Benjamin Spock who wrote the book, Baby and Childcare. Unfortunately, we fail to consult the book authored by the One who created the family unit. God’s Word is full of instruction about training children. It is the standard that we are to use to raise our children. He has also gifted some Christians with the wisdom to write books, blogs and other sources on parenting.
4) Be on the Same Page with your Wife.
One common source of marital strife is disagreements concerning child rearing. If you are going to be successful at parenting your children, dads and moms need to be on the same page. And as I stated in the last point, the standard must be the Word of God. In Amos 3:3, God asks, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” The obvious answer is – No! You must make a commitment to search the Scriptures and read biblically based books that direct you to be in harmony with your wife. If you two are not in agreement, your children will skillfully manipulate you both to get their way.
5) Protect Your Children.
In a culture that is infiltrated with humanistic thought, sexual immorality, ungodly media, pedophiles, and false teachers, to name but a few, it is absolutely essential that you take responsibility for your children’s well being. One way to do this is to teach your children truth so they will recognize lies that are seeking to take root in their hearts. Please understand that it is NOT the church’s responsibility to protect the mind or to train your child. It is your God ordained duty!
For the Puritans that came to America over 200 years ago, It was the husband’s responsibility to channel the family into religion; to take them to church on the Lord’s day, and oversee the sanctifying of that entire day in the home; to catechize the children, to teach them the faith; to examine the whole family after each sermon, to see how much had been retained and understood, and to fill in any gaps in understanding that might remain; To lead the family in worship daily, ideally twice a day, and to set a Godly example at all times and in all matters. To this end he was to take time to learn the faith that he was charged to teach.
Can you imagine what a difference it would make if fathers reinstituted this spiritual discipline in their homes? Dads, I challenge you to make family devotions a priority. Devotions don’t have to be structured and boring, use your imagination and have fun with it.
There is one more thing I need to say with regards to protecting your children. You must shield your children by monitoring television, installing filters on internet, regulating and overseeing the use of cell phones, and reviewing books and materials that are used at school. You must also safeguard your children from a society filled with pedophiles by not allowing them to be alone with anyone (even friend or relative) they do not completely know or trust. Teach your children to resist and report any improper touch.
6) Bless Your Children.
This is one thing that is frequently overlooked. There are many children today who are desperately pleading like Esau, “Bless me, even me also, O my father” (Genesis 27:34).
When mothers and fathers brought children to Jesus the disciples reprimanded these parents. But, Jesus immediately rebuked the disciples and encouraged the children to come to Him (Mark 10:13-16).I want to highlight the fact that Jesus blessed these children in three important ways that all of us should also emulate:
First, Jesus took time for the children.
Second, Jesus tenderly touched the children and offered loving affirmation.
Third, Jesus used a tempered tongue with the children.
If you are not sure how to go about blessing your children, God’s word teaches us that we are to speak a message to our children that launches them towards a special future as we, the fathers, make a commitment to help them fulfill it. Make sure you take time to regularly bless each of your children.
7) Understand Your Child’s Greatest Need.
Understanding your child’s greatest need begins with acknowledging their greatest problem. Their chief problem is they are born a sinner (Psalm 51:5). Your children did not enter this world pursuing God and His righteousness. They came as every person does; a self seeking sinner in need of a savior! Sin drives their hearts and minds. The most urgent need of every child is regeneration through a relationship with Jesus Christ. You must discern whether your children actually have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Do not just assume or take for granted that your child is a Christian. The new birth is evidenced in your child when you see his or her life, thinking, and behavior begin to revolve around Jesus Christ. New birth is recognized by its fruits, not by a decision. The most important fruit is a hunger for God. This is not to say that your child must exhibit the behavior and maturity of a seasoned Christian, but should show some evidence of genuine salvation.
8) The Father Should Lead in Parenting.
Dr. Wade Horn who served as president of the National Fatherhood Initiative made this very gripping statement, “If America continues on its present course, it will be known as the nation of the founding fathers, with no fathers to be found.” One of the most critical needs in our culture is for fathers to take an active role in parenting their children. In Ephesians 6:4 Paul instructs fathers to not provoke their children to wrath, but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The Greek word for father used in this verse is “pater”. It literally means father, not parents. God specifically singled out the father to assume the primary active role in the discipline and instruction of his children. Of course, this does not discount or diminish the mother’s participation since she is in a one-flesh relationship with her husband and is to assist him in accomplishing this purpose.
As leaders of their homes, single parents assume the responsibility of following this command. As they face this crucial task, they must remember that they are not alone; the power of God resides within them. Good Christian books are also invaluable in strengthening them for this duty.
9) Train Your Children.
Ephesians 6:1-3 commands children to do two things – to obey and honor their parents. The Bible promises a twofold blessing to those children who keep these two commands. The flip side is that parents must realize they are on a rescue mission to train their children to obey and give honor. This means that you must instruct your children so they will remain under God’s umbrella of blessing.
Children do not go bad because of something their parents do. They are born sinful, and that sinfulness manifests itself because of what their parents do not do.
Following the commands given to children, God specifically instructs the father in Ephesians 6:4. The father (with his wife’s assistance and cooperation as stated in key 7) is commanded:
Let’s take a brief look at each one of these commands. In a general sense a father provokes his child to wrath or anger when he does not take on the God assigned responsibility to do what is stated in the rest of the verse. More specifically, some of the ways parents provoke a child to anger (means to enrage) include showing favoritism (Genesis 27:3-4), by discouraging them, by neglecting them, by hypocrisy, by continually degrading them, by excessive discipline, by a lack of love, by trying to make their child into what they wanted to be but could never achieve.
It is interesting that the Greek word “bring them up” is found in only one other place in the New Testament. Ephesians 5:29 uses the same word to instruct a husband to nourish his wife as he would his own body. To “bring up” or “nourish” pictures the atmosphere in which the discipline, chastening and instruction is given to the child. This atmosphere of nourishing conveys acceptance and continually offers affirmation of your love to them. It encourages fertile ground in the heart of the child to receive the nurture and admonition that you give to them.
Thirdly, you are to nurture the child. The word nurture is also translated as instruction (2 Timothy 3:16) and as chastening (Hebrews 12:5-11). It infers that you administer discipline to the child. While correcting the behavior of a child is necessary, the ultimate goal is to train the heart behind their behavior. As you train the child’s heart, it is important to keep these verses in mind:
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 22:15
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from hell. Proverbs 23:13-14
Notice the word “rod” in these verses. God ordained that the parent use corporal punishment as a means to drive out the foolishness bound in the heart of the child. The rod refers to an instrument that is flexible and stings the child but is not injurious to the child. It is to be used during times when the child is rebellious to your authority. Even Psychologist Robert Larzelee admits that non abusive spanking actually benefits a child more that alternative forms of discipline. He states that “no other discipline technique, including timeout and withdrawal of privileges, had more beneficial results for children under thirteen than spanking, in terms of getting children to comply with their parents wishes. Furthermore, according to an article in the U.S. News and World Report, “parenting experts” based all their findings against corporal punishment “on a body of research that is at its best inconclusive and at worse badly flawed. I take time to briefly mention the use of corporal punishment since it is such a controversial topic in our present culture. However, I am not saying that spanking is the only kind of discipline parents should administer. Other forms of punishment such as “withdrawing a privilege” or a “time out” can in certain situations be effective. Keep in mind that the Bible is specific that spanking should be used when a child exhibits a defiant or rebellious attitude.
Where nurture refers more to what you “do” to the child (use of the rod), admonition refers more to what you “say” to the child (reproof). It includes warnings, instruction and teaching the child spiritual disciplines.
As this article is not intended to be a comprehensive manual on parenting, I encourage you to do more research on this and consult your pastor.
10) Teach Your Children to Reverence God.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked, yet necessary keys to raising God honoring children, is teaching them to walk in the “fear” of God. Simply stated, inspire them to have both a fascination and awe for the majesty of God. The most vital aspect of this teaching is a thorough understanding of God’s attributes. Of course, it will be impossible for parents to train children to reverence God if they are not walking in the “fear” of God themselves. But once you do, you must not neglect this important principle. For as your children grow up, they will be pulled and tempted to doubt God. But if you have done your job as a parent, they will not deviate from their knowledge of God’s mighty power and his awe!
Now get up and go do these things. And watch how the Lord blesses you and your children.
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