As a father, God has entrusted you with decisive influence. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” The first step of loving your kids is to realize that you have the potential of exasperating your offspring. A dad who is never pleased with his kids, critical of everything they do, and demanding that they always produce more and act better will watch their loved ones diminish in motivation and accomplishments.
When our middle son was growing up, it was common for him to be angry, sullen and aggressive towards others. He had a medical issue he couldn’t control and often felt he was living in the shadow of his older brother. It was easy to see the negative traits in his life and difficult to see his natural skill in friendship and athletic ability. Choosing to say, “I know you are going to grow out of this because you are gifted with people and with your body,” took a lot more effort than blurting out, “Why are you being so difficult? Just straighten up.” He already knew he was off and didn’t need to be reminded. What he needed was someone to believe he could find a way to be his best without dismissing bad behavior.
The way to combat this is to focus on “training” and “instruction.” “Training” refers to discipline that leads to self-discipline.
The first goal of fatherhood is to raise young people who have the ability to discipline their time, their desires, their habits and their commitments.
Early in their lives, we apply discipline and make many decisions for them. As they mature, the goal is to transfer decisions to them as they discern natural consequences to their choices.
“Instruction” is not the average word for teaching. It refers to an admonition, using all available methods, to do the right thing. In other words:
The second strategy of fatherhood is a willingness to use words, actions, appeals, principles, involvement, consequences and sacrifices to inspire our kids to do what is right.
It is the parental application of John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus demonstrated his love by giving up his life on the cross. We demonstrate our love for our kids when we give of ourselves in selfless devotion to help them discover God’s best for them.
We asked our kids when they were grown, “What did we do that actually helped you?” The first answer that stood out was, “You were the same people in public that you were in private so we knew you believed what you were telling us.” The second was, “You gave us a dream big enough that we wanted to work hard to accomplish it.”
When you help your kids develop self-discipline and give of yourself to admonish them, your kids will be glad to have you as their dad!
Bill and Pam Farrel are co-authors of 44 books. Bill’s books for men include 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make (video also available), 7 Simple Skills for Every Man, and 10 Best Decisions a Leader Can Make. www.Love-wise.com