Leading your family should not be a mystery because God has given to us everything that we need for life and godliness. For most Christians, the issue is not a lack of knowledge but an unwillingness to apply the information that they already know.
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During one of our youth meetings, I was discussing with two dads about how we lead our families. We were talking about specific issues with our sons and daughters, and the necessity of leading them well.
In God’s kind and timely providence, I happen to be reading the John Ensor book, Matters of the Heart, where I ran across a wonderful and applicable quote to our discussion. The quote was a sober reminder of my responsibilities before God and to my children. Here is what I read:
As children approach their teen years, the father becomes the key factor in the moral decisions the teen will make. If the father is home and involved, young daughters will more likely relish his attention and tender affirmation, and feel no need to get it elsewhere. If such things are absent, daughters are at higher risk to look for them in another man and to feel a deep need to be in a relationship with a boy—any boy.
Young boys without fathers (or with absent fathers) are at higher risk to look for their manhood on the streets, where manhood is proven by way of sex, drugs, crime, and dropping out of school. The man who hits the sofa and delegates family matters to his wife will immediately sow bitterness in his wife and trouble in his children. The father who is harsh and detached, who is grumpy all the time and easily angered, will raise angry and rebellious children.
Brothers, some warnings in Scripture are gender-specific because sin affects manhood in ways that differ from womanhood. As breadwinners, we are particularly susceptible to come home tired and frustrated, and want to withdraw into the mindless cocoon of “boob-tube-ism” or some hobby that makes no demands upon us. But we are warned, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21).
- Deny children your attention, and you frustrate them.
- Deny them your wisdom and insight as they start exploring the world around them, and you frustrate them.
- Ignore them or cut them off for bothering you, and you frustrate them. Pp. 157-158: John Ensor, Doing Things Right in the Matters of the Heart
The Orientation of the Home
As I began to reflect more deeply upon the Ensor quote, it became apparent to me how I don’t necessarily need a church or even a friend to teach me how to lead my children well, at least not in the way that Ensor is teaching.
God, in His manifold kindness to me, has provided Spirit-illuminated instincts that guide me in His truth (Luke 12:12; 1 Corinthians 2:14; John 16:13; 1 John 1:27). While I don’t want to negate, or even marginalize the importance of a sound, healthy, and grace-filled community around me, the truth is that I know what I need to do to lead my family well.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. – James 4:17
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. – 2 Peter 1:3
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
Here is a short list of those things that I already know:
- Be kind to my family.
- Serve my family.
- Confess my sins to my family.
- Encourage my family.
- Model the life of Christ before my family.
It is when I refuse to do these five things that our family dynamic becomes complicated. This opportunity is one of the many beauties of the gospel–the Lord did not make it hard. No doubt the evil one makes it hard, but the Lord does not; He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). How about you? Will you talk to your family today about these things? Maybe a template for your discussion could look like the following:
Dear family, as your dad, how am I doing at being kind, serving, confessing my sins, encouraging, and modeling the life of Christ to you?
Will you have that conversation soon? By doing so, you will position yourself for an opportunity to celebrate the grace of God in your family, as well as another privilege to appropriate His grace as you submit to Him and the change process.
Also published on Medium.