I feel very uncomfortable writing an article about fatherhood because I am haunted by my mis-steps. There are moments when I am too harsh, lazy moments when I am not firm enough, and minutes when I see an opportunity to encourage their spiritual life yet don’t take advantage of the opportunity. I should confess that there have even been times when other people’s expectations of my children embarrassed me and led me to be overly harsh to my kids. The Summer has also been a season of frustrating inconsistency. However, I do make time for my children, speak loving truth into their lives, tend to tear up about once a day watching my kiddos, and genuinely try to shepherd their moldable little hearts.
Even though I grew up in Denton, I have been forced to look at Denton with missionary eyes. People move to southern Denton because they love their kids and want them in good schools. I have already had numerous dads sitting in my living room telling me they want to be better fathers and asking me for advice.
The Bible gives a couple of very clear teachings on being a dad. First, it tells dad’s not to “provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). This is on the back of telling husbands not to be “harsh” with their wives. Man, as a single guy, I used to look at those statements with such judgmental eyes. Dad’s need Colossians 3:21 because there is a great temptation to be overbearing with our children. We are bigger and can yell louder and intimidate them into submission. Intimidation might cause better behavior for a season, but will ultimately push a child away from her parents and the Lord. We need dads who are patient, firm, gentle, and loving. I’ll pray for you if you’ll pray for me in this area.
Second, Deuteronomy 6:7 teaches that we should “diligently” teach our children the important truths about God as well as to love God. I want my children to know truths about God in order to love God. I want to teach them the facts, but I also want to model a genuine Jesus-loving spirituality.
I have the conviction that dads are to shepherd their children’s hearts. I know every family has a different rhythm but at our house bedtime is when I foster my kids’ spiritual lives. The typical evening includes reading a book or two followed by daddy working on “verses” or “questions.” I also have the conviction to be realistic in my expectations for fathers. Some guys might prepare an hour lesson for their kids every evening, but that is unrealistic for the rest of us. I want to take this opportunity to plug two resources that have helped me shepherd my children.
First, are Children Desiring God’s “Fighter Verses” and “Foundation Verses.” The verses are simply a Bible memorization program. The “Foundation Verses” utilize images which are helpful for preschoolers, and they have an app for that! Mason and I simply use the “Fighter Verses” app on my iPad during our night time reading routine. The verses have been fun and challenging over the years. The tool has hidden the Word in my childrens’ hearts and helped them see how God is working around them. You can learn more about “Fighter Verses” and “Foundation Verses” at ChildrenDesiringGod.org.
Second, is Great Commission Publications’ “First Catechism.” I didn’t utilize catechisms growing up and to be honest I used to be intimidated by them. If you are new to the tool, they are simply a list of questions and answers that kids memorize about God, the Bible, and other spiritual truths. I came across the catechism when Mason was little and we made a little game out of his “questions.” Now that Kenlee is in preschool we have been working on her “questions” at a pace of 5 new questions per week. I have found that they have given my children spiritual verbiage to help them understand God and the world around them. You can learn more at GCP.org under the “Teacher & Parent” drop down and on the “Catechism Resources” link.
Redeemer Church is committed to training children in the beautiful truths of the gospel as well as equipping parents to foster the spiritual lives of their little ones. I pray that Redeemer Church is a people who diligently teach their children the truths about Jesus as we sit in our houses, walk along our ways, lie down at night, and rise up in the morning (Deuteronomy 6:7)