After 31 years of counseling people, I can tell you that dads have the most influence on their children, for better or for worse. That is not a surprise since the only two verses of Scripture in the New Testament are directed to fathers.
Here is what they say. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 ESV “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21 ESV
Men, we were designed by God to be the loving leaders in our homes. But when Adam sinned, that got turned upside down in us. As a result, all of us tend to struggle after the flesh to lead our families spiritually and to express love to them. The flesh easily defaults to passivity and anger in our homes.
The good news is that Jesus came to turn things right side up. So when He tells us what to do to lead our families, He is reminding us of who we already are in Christ as fathers. It is also a reminder that we need to depend on Christ in us to lead and love then. I pray almost every day that Jesus will live His life through me to love my wife and my children.
Don’t fall into the former stinking thinking that it’s up to your wife to lead your children spiritually, to express love or to discipline them. That is passivity and is from the flesh. But that’s not who we are as men whose identity is in Christ. In Christ, we fathers are loving leaders! Our Heavenly Dad is telling us to “put on Christ” or simply, live like who we are.
To lead primarily means to initiate. It’s deciding to initiate to show and tell your kids you love them. It’s deciding to initiate by sharing with your kids about your own relationship with God. It’s deciding to initiate by asking your kids to forgive you when you blow it. It’s deciding to initiate in a relationship with your wife that your kids can emulate. It’s choosing to show respect to your wife and to require your kids to do the same.
Dads, you don’t have to do everything perfectly. That is why it’s called parenting by grace. I made plenty of mistakes with my four kids. Even today, I believe that God’s grace covers every mistake you and I make. Romans 5:20b “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”
Dads, the pressure’s off. We can choose to depend on Christ to live through us to parent our kids! I will be talking about this more during the “Parenting by Grace” Conference that I’m presenting in our office on April 7-8.
If interested, take advantage of our Early Bird discount fee by registering here. We offer this conference both in person at our Charlotte office as well as live online worldwide.