This past weekend I had the privilege of speaking at the Sunday morning worship service at a father-son campout. It was during this great time of masculine activity that I challenged the fathers and sons to the high calling they have as Christian men.
I began with Genesis 48:8-10.
When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.
As fathers we are called to be a blessing to our sons and daughters. We are to be a blessing in word and deed. We are to speak words of blessing on our children in keeping with their true identity as a “very good” portion of God’s creation. We need to speak words that build them up and not tear them down. We need to speak positive and not negative messages into their young minds.
We also need to bless them by giving them a good demonstration of what a father is supposed to be. Father’s are put in an incredible place of influence, simply by being a father and being active in the child’s life. A statistic that encourages this is fathers who read to their kids on a regular basis will have children who do 15% better across the board academically. I used to read the Sunday paper funnies to my children.
I then referenced the fifth commandment from Exodus 20:12;
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Children need to honor their parents. This involves obedience and respect. But parents need to be honorable people. The four commandments that precede this commandment are all about our relationship with God. The five that follow are all about our relationship with other people. The commandment to be honorable parents, that honor God and train children in the way they should go, is the turning point for civilized society.
If fathers do not demonstrate the sanctity of life, or do not model the sacredness of marriage, their children will be more likely be murderers and adulterers. If they do not model a life of honesty, their children have a much more likelihood of being dishonest. If the dads are inclined to covet and steal, the children will show the same inclination. Fathers need to be honest men of integrity or their bad example will lead to the break-down of society in just a few short commandments.
Dads are like coaches in sports where sometimes they lead with their words and sometimes they lead with their demonstration. I recently heard a definition of a coach that challenges us in what we say and what we do. “A coach takes a person of great value to where they want to be, need to be or ought to be.” We have been given a tremendous responsibility and privilege to lead our children where God has planned for them to go and be in this life.
Rex Robinson serves with the Marriage Resource Center and Cross Connect Ministries, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.