R. Kent Hughes – 5 “Do Nots” of Fatherhood

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

1. Criticism

Every year when our family decorates our Christmas tree and I place a tiny red-and-green glass-beaded wreath on the tree, I think of the little boy who gave it to me when I coached soccer. His sarcastic, demeaning father would run up and down the field belittling his boy with words like “chicken” and “woman.” He was the only parent I ever told to be quiet or leave the field. I wonder sometimes how that boy, now a man, has fared.

Winston Churchill had such a father in Lord Randolph Churchill. He did not like the looks of Winston, he did not like his voice, he did not like to be in the same room with his son. He never complimented him—only criticized him. His biographers excerpt young Winston’s letters begging both parents for his father’s attention: “I would rather have been apprenticed as a bricklayer’s mate…it would have been natural…and I should have got to know my father…”

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R. Kent Hughes – 3 “Dos” of Fatherhood

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

1. Tenderness

The words “bring them up” mean “to nourish or feed,” as in 5:29 which has the same Greek words describing how a man “feeds and cares” for his own body. Calvin translates “bring them up” as “let them be kindly cherished,” and goes on to emphasize that the overall idea is to speak to one’s children with gentleness and friendliness.

When I was a teenager, my best friend’s father was a man’s man. He had spent thirty-two years in the Coast Guard as a non-commissioned officer, a chief bosun’s mate. He was a big man, and in his prime he had put on the gloves with Joe Louis. Officers greeted him first when he walked down the street. He could be rough and tumble. But do you know what he called his 265-pound son? “David dear.” I was “Kent dear,” and I did not mind at all. In fact, it made me feel great. He was not hung up on “Real men do not show affection.” In fact, he still kisses his grown son — a man’s man himself.

We are to be tender. Men are never manlier than when they are tender with their children — whether holding a baby in their arms, loving their grade- schooler, or hugging their teenager or adult children.

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Tim Challies – Nurture Your Children

There are few roles in which we feel deeper inadequacy than our role as fathers. What suits us to the task of raising little people? What assurance can we have that we are doing it well? What will our children someday say of us? These are big and perplexing questions, so it is little wonder that church bulletin boards are covered with posters for parenting seminars and library shelves are groaning under the weight of parenting books. One study found that in the past 10 years alone, publishers have released more than 75 thousand books on the subject. Parenting is tough, and none of us is fully up to the challenge.

Considering the importance and difficulty of the task, we may find it surprising how little direct guidance the New Testament offers us. Its clearest instruction is found in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The parallel passage in Colossians 3:21 adds just one minor detail: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” While we’re grateful for this divine guidance, we are probably left wishing there was more of it. Couldn’t God have answered a few more of our questions? What about spanking versus timeouts? What about homeschooling versus Christian or public schooling? What about the age to buy a child her first iPhone or the right way to oversee her selection of a spouse? Couldn’t we have just a little bit more detail?

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Richard Baxter – Leading a Family for Christ

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The principal thing requisite to the right governing of families is the fitness of the governors and the governed thereto…But if persons unfit for their relations have joined themselves together in a family, their first duty is to repent of their former sin and rashness and presently to turn to God, [seeking] after that fitness that is necessary to the right discharge of the duties of their several places. In fathers, these three things are of greatest necessity hereunto: 1. authority, 2. skill, 3. holiness and readiness of will.

GENERAL DIRECTIONS: LET FATHERS MAINTAIN THEIR AUTHORITY IN THEIR FAMILIES. For if once that is lost and you are despised by those you should rule, your word will be of no effect with them. You do but ride without a bridle: your power of governing is gone when your authority is lost. And here you must first understand the nature, use, and extent of your authority: for as your relations are different to your wife [and] your children…so is your authority. Your authority over your wife is but such as is necessary to the order of your family, the safe and prudent management of your affairs, and your comfortable cohabitation. The power of love and complicated interest must do more than magisterial1 commands. Your authority over your children is much greater; but only such as conjunct with love is needful to their good education and felicity…For the maintaining of this your authority, observe these following sub-directions:

Direction 1: Let your family understand that your authority is of God, Who is the God of order, and that in obedience to Him they are obliged to obey you. “There is no power but of God” (Rom. 13:1), and there is none that the intelligent creature can so much reverence as that which is of God. All bonds are easily broken and cast away — by the soul at least, if not by the body — which are not perceived to be Divine. An enlightened conscience will say to ambitious usurpers, “God I know, and His Son Jesus I know, but who are ye?”

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A. W. Pink – Fatherhood: Responsibility and Privilege

One of the saddest and most tragic features of our twentieth-century1 “civilization” is the awful prevalence of disobedience on the part of children to their parents during the days of childhood and their lack of reverence and respect when they grow up. This is evidenced in many ways and is general, alas, even in the families of professing Christians. In his extensive travels during the past thirty years, the writer has sojourned in a great many homes. The piety and beauty of some of them remain as sacred and fragrant memories, but others of them have left the most painful impressions. Children who are self-willed or spoiled not only bring themselves into perpetual unhappiness but also inflict discomfort upon all who come into contact with them. [They] augur, by their conduct, evil things for the days to come.

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George Swinnock – A Father’s Prayer

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I [pray] that the Word of Christ may dwell richly in my heart and house that my whole family may have their set meals every day of this spiritual food. How can I expect that children…who know not the God of their fathers, should serve Him with perfect hearts? (1Ch 28:9). Alas! How often are their ignorant hearts (like dark cellars abounding in vermin) full of sin! O that I might so talk of the Word of God in my house, when I lie down and when I rise up, that it may be written upon the posts of my house and on my gates (Deu 6:7-8), that I may so often water the young plants in it that their first acquaintance may be acquaintance with God, and [that] from their childhood they may know the Holy Scriptures and be wise “unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2Ti 3:15)…Though others labor to leave their children rich, let my endeavor be to leave mine [godly]. Lord, enable me so to teach them Thy trade in their youth that they may not depart from it when they are old (Pro 22:6), that their young years well led may be like the sweetness of a rose, whose smell remaineth in the dried leaves.

I [pray] that all the voices in my house may [harmoniously] sing God’s praises, yet that they may not, like trumpets and pipes, make a sound being filled only with wind, but have hearts fixed and prepared when they sing and give praise…Drunkards have their songs in derision of them that are good; atheists have their sonnets in dishonor of the blessed God; why should not the voice of joy and rejoicing be in the tabernacle of the righteous? (Psa 118:15). Though my house is a tabernacle and all the inhabitants in it travelers, yet our work is pleasant. O let us go merrily on and make God’s statutes our songs in this house of our pilgrimage.

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Richard Phillips – 4 Ways to Reach a Child’s Heart

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Not just any fatherly involvement can reach the hearts of our children. To really open up a child’s heart, a father must observe the work-and-keep model of Genesis 2:15. There must be the working — as a father nurtures and cultivates the soil of a child’s heart. And there must be the keeping—the correction that, as we will see in the following chapter, is to be exercised in a relationship of joy and love.

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who assure me that their fathers hardly ever praised them, but constantly criticized and berated. I meet people all the time who tell me that their fathers beat into their heads that they were losers who would never succeed. I can scarcely imagine what that is like. There is only so much a pastor can do to remedy such an upbringing, and the best he can do will include pointing such a person to the effective healing love of our heavenly Father, who can do far more than any man. But as fathers we can ensure that our own children are raised with the rich fertilizer of fatherly affection and esteem.

A godly father plants good things in the hearts of his children. He plants:

The seeds of his own faith in Christ.
A longing for truth and goodness.
His hopes and dreams for the godly man or woman the child will become.
His own confidence that the child has all the gifting and capacity needed to serve God faithfully in whatever way God may genuinely call.

A godly father works these things into the soil of his child’s heart as he shares his own heart, listens to and molds the child’s heart, and waters these tender plants with faith and love.

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