Summary: There are many people in the world, real or not, that we can learn the example of being a father. This sermon takes us back to the best place where we can find that perfect example... to the Bible and God/Christ!
I think most of us who are fathers in this room want to, and wanted to be good fathers. In my generation I got to pick from several role models. Homer Simpson, Tim the tool man Taylor, Al Bundy, George Jetson, Fred Flintstone, even Ozzy Osborne? Now, if I watched TV, apparently I could even have the role model of two gay fathers parenting their child.
And there was my Dad, but the only time I saw him was when I was playing hockey. He was absent even when he was home, he would pretty much fall asleep as soon as he hit his chair. I’m not bashing my dad, but he worked all the time and he did the best he could with what he had. But you know, one of the toughest parts for me being a dad, and I know I’m not alone, is sacrificing my time and my desires to spend time with my children.
But that’s not the only challenge. I can do that, and really I love being with them, but then I’m left with the challenge of what now? It’s like when we become fathers, all memory of ourselves actually being kids goes away, and we haven’t got a clue what to do when we’re alone with our children. So I often find myself saying what do you want to do? That just doesn’t sound like leading to me?
I didn’t have a good model for being a father (not even God when I was young) no matter where I looked, and so when I had kids, I was basically making it up from the best of what I saw which wasn’t great.
If we’re honest guys, how many of us saw this pattern as fathers and find ourselves kind of repeating it? A father works hard to provide stuff for his family, but often don’t you find that that can be an excuse? We really want to work for our own satisfaction, and even maybe to avoid having to parent sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s any bad intent here, but rather it’s a sense of incompetence that we can overcome with work, so we would rather work than parent, for our own sense of competence? And society is set up so that that’s normal.
It’s what we saw. Dad is the provider and maybe the disciplinarian. But when it comes to the more complex issues of parenting and dealing with the thoughts and emotions of our kids, we get kind of nervous and appreciate having the luxury of handing them off to mom. Maybe this is just me, but I’m pretty sure some of you at least can relate.
It never occurred to me that I could go to scripture to see what the Father of all children says about being a dad. So that’s what I want to do today. Some of you have seen the movie Courageous, and I believe every father should see it. We have a copy in our library.
I’m going to play a scene or two today for you, and what I want you to be thinking in the background of today’s message is the idea of a covenant. Our Father in heaven is a covenant maker and in this movie fathers are encouraged to make a covenant, or resolution based on His word.
The verse I want to focus on today is Ephesians 6:4 and let me just say that our primary job as fathers, as it is for God, is to build good character and values in our children. Everything else comes from that. Character, who we are, what we stand for; and I believe this verse gives us amazing divine guidance for doing that. Let me read it…
Three things we see in this verse.
1. Do not provoke your children to anger. What does that mean? The word for provoke is parorgizo which contains the word for beside, and the word where we get orgy from, which means literally extreme passion. I know I’ve misunderstood this statement and I bet many of us have. It means, do not show violent passion beside your children, or do not model violent passion that would discourage them. The saying applies to both how we treat them, and how we model beside them. In a nutshell we could say, model emotional self control.
2. Bring up or nourish or nurture them, even cherish and train them, in the discipline (tutelage or correction)…
3. And the calling attention to or warning of the Lord.
Let me put it together simply, model emotional self control to your children, correct them and warn them based on what the Lord says. We want our kids to have success in the world, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it is more important that we train them for eternity. And so I believe that God’s instruction here in Ephesians is to simply model a God centered life and correct and warn them according to the Bible, so that they also grow up in that way. Warn your daughter about wearing that skirt, your son about hanging out with those guys. That worldly success and popularity doesn’t override following God.