Summary: Three things a good dad wants his kids to do. (These are also three things our heavenly Father wants from all of us.)
A traditional Father’s Day sermon would direct its attention to things a good dad ought to do. Instead, let’s look today at some things a good dad wants his kids to do.
In Proverbs 4:1-4, Solomon says:
"Hear ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. (2) For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. (3) For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. (4) He taught me also, and said unto me, ’Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments and live.’"
Solomon’s father, King David, gave some instructions and commandments to him that he was now giving to his son.
I call these commandments "Straight Talk". These are the things you don’t beat around the bush about.
The rest of this fourth chapter of Proverbs lays out what these instructions cover. They seem to be in three areas.
Here they are...THREE THINGS A GOOD DAD WANTS HIS KIDS TO DO! (They also happen to be three things our heavenly Father wants from all of us.)
1. DEVELOP A LISTENING AND LEARNING SPIRIT. (Proverbs 4:5-13)
Solomon begins this portion of the chapter with the words, "Get wisdom, get understanding".
In the rest of the passage from verses 5-13, Solomon says: "wisdom is the principle thing" (v.7); "Hear... and receive my sayings" (v.10); and "Take fast hold of instruction" (v.13).
This is the primary step to raising good sons and daughters. Teaching children to listen, to have a teachable spirit, is crucial to the rest of their character formation!
Now let’s admit right up front that this kind of training takes time and commitment. It’s not always an easy task to accomplish, but it is the right thing to do if you love your children. We cannot afford to be preoccupied with less important matters.
And to those still under your parents’ authority: are you doing your part to develop that teachable spirit that will benefit you throughout life?
How do you do it? How do you DEVELOP A LISTENING AND LEARNING SPIRIT?
a. Children learn first from the example set by their parents.
Parents should let their children see them seeking God’s wisdom. They should share spiritual truth with their children in those teachable moments that arise in everyday life.
Listen to Moses’ words to the generation of Jews getting ready to enter the promised land. (The previous generation perished in the wilderness because they failed to set a good example for their children.)
"And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou riseth up." (Dueteronomy 6:6,7)
Walking and talking openly with your kids about your faith is essential to developing a teachable spirit in them. When they see your listening and learning spirit in response to your heavenly Father, they will understand what they are supposed to do by your example.
Here’s another way to DEVELOP A LISTENING AND LEARNING SPIRIT in your children.
b. Accept their feelings.
This principle is even mentioned in the best selling book, "How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen & Listen So Your Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
This relationship principle originated with our heavenly Father.
Look at some of the Psalms where David "poured out" his "complaint". (Psalm 142:2, for example)
Does the Bible mean to imply that God puts up with complaining? Isn’t that the reason the generation that left Egyptian bondage didn’t get to enter the Promised Land?
The motive makes the difference. The Psalmist was looking for a solution from God. He was trying to work out his problems by having an open dialogue with his heavenly Father. That’s different from having a rebellious heart and fearfully loosing faith in God.
Parents should imitate God here. Allow your children to have dialogue. Respectful dialogue. No yelling, no tantrums, but let them see that their feelings do matter.
One key to getting them to listen to you, is to listen to them. Let them know their feelings matter. Kids are not always right - but their feelings always matter. Is this perhaps what Paul was getting at when he said, "Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath..."? (Ephesians 6:4) I think so.
There’s nothing dangerous about dialogue with your kids.
Now to give this a balanced perspective, let’s consider one more biblical principle for DEVELOPING A LISTENING AND LEARNING SPRIIT.
C. UTILIZE SPANKING WHEN NEEDED.
Uh-oh. Did the preacher say spanking? Why everyone knows that out of date.
No, the Bible never gets out of date. Folks just misundertand, misinterpret, and misapply the Bible sometimes.