Dads, God Has Equipped You to be Spiritual Leaders
- Ken Canfield President, National Center for Fathering
- 2006 3 Mar
One of the central creeds of the Christian faith is found in Deuteronomy 6, in what is known as the shema: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." These words are followed by God’s practical instructions: "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
There are two lessons here that are essential to our success as spiritual fathers. First, God wants the home to be the primary place where our children learn about faith. The temple, synagogue and, later, the church were all secondary in responsibility for spiritual training. In the New Testament, Paul didn’t write to pastors or teachers in Ephesians 6 when he said, "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." He was talking to you and I, fathers. Mothers also have a responsibility to train their children in spiritual matters -- and they have often stepped in where fathers have been negligent. But God has placed the primary responsibility upon fathers to be loving, serving leaders in their households. I encourage you to lead your family in regular times of worship, prayer and Bible study.
The second lesson from Deuteronomy 6 is that God intended spiritual training to be part of the daily routine of family life. While I highly recommend structured devotions, we need to also emphasize a daily walk of faith. Mealtimes, for example, are like a regular family group meeting. You ask questions, hear about activities, tell jokes, and then one day a child brings up some problem she’s dealing with. That’s your opportunity to bring God’s truth into real life. Or, be pro-active: ask questions that stimulate discussion about spiritual matters. "What are you most thankful for this week?" "Who’s someone in your class that we can be praying for?" Or, "What’s the one difficulty for which you’d like some support?"
Look for teachable moments throughout the day, and use them to point to God’s glory and plan. Volunteer together to help those in need -- which gives a great example for your kids of the pure religion described in James 1:27.
In the process of incorporating your faith into your family life, you’ll also be building strong relationships so your children will want to follow in your footsteps. You’ve heard the saying: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s especially true among the "people" in your home.
Dad, maybe you feel like you're not a good enough Christian to be an effective spiritual equipper. It is a big responsibility, but our Heavenly Father doesn’t give us a task and then not equip us to complete that task. We can overcome feeling inadequate in our role as spiritual equippers of our children. You have father power. Use that power for the future of your family. Also, keep in mind that spiritual leadership in your home doesn't always have to look or feel just like your neighbor's home. Ask God to reveal your unique gifts as a father and draw from those to lead your family into a closer relationship with Him.
Tips for Family Devotions
Many men say they want to have a regular time when they gather the family together to read the Bible, worship, and pray as a family, but it’s tough to get going -- or keep going. Here are a few quick tips:
• Keep it simple. Make it your goal to help your kids understand one truth or principle each session.
• Be flexible. Use a variety of devotionals, videos, or CDs, or act out Bible stories to add an age-appropriate spark. You might read a biography of a Christian leader who learned to apply important Biblical truths to life. Some days, you may want to just talk about how God has blessed your family, or set up special traditions for birthdays and holidays.
• Be consistent. Your chances to keep it going will increase if you keep it at a regular, predictable time. Your children will be influenced more by your commitment to family worship times than they will by your Scriptural insights.
• Be the leader, but share the load. Make sure other family members have opportunities to use their gifts, including taking the lead occasionally, as they are able.
The National Center for Fathering was founded in 1990 by Dr. Ken Canfield because every child needs a dad they can count on -- someone who loves them, knows them, guides them and helps them achieve their destiny. Visit www.fathers.com for more articles and resources to assist dads in nearly every fathering situation.