When you teach your child, you teach your child's child.
When you teach your child, you teach your child’s child.
Deuteronomy 6: 1-12
Those of us passing through the crucible of fatherhood we understand that nothing tests your wits, humor and heart more than a child. Most men, if they were honest will tell you they feel woefully ill prepared for fatherhood; it’s a lot of responsibility. Fatherhood (like motherhood) is a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings that are with you for the rest of your life. In one day you are king of the world and can do no wrong; however, within moments you are the last person anyone wants to see.
The strange thing is that with all the importance that surrounds parenthood and being a dad – it can all be taken for granted. There are thousands upon thousands of small and not small events that can dull you to the true power you have as a dad. Paying bills, getting kids to school, band practice and tutoring can combine into one opaque mundane experience; meanwhile, the important things of life are happening all around. A dad must intentionally keep his wits about himself to catch teachable moments and memory making minutes!
In the everyday grind of diapers, naps and playdates it’s easy to lose sight of the incredible influence a dad yields. This influence grows along with your child. In the teen years when it feels to a dad like they’re no longer cool or their child’s hero that they should back off and give ground to other more “relevant voices” is when they need to lean in and be present. Common sense dictates that dads adjust their relationship to the maturity level of their growing child but always remain present. Dads (as well as moms) are the prime influencers of their children.
Dad, you can build or destroy. You can inspire or defeat your child with only one word. Touch is an often-overlooked factor; sometimes, a hug can make everything ok. Conversely, withholding a hug, cuddle or even pat on the back can lead to emotionally starving a child.
When you teach your child, you teach your child's child. What you are doing today with your children will impact how they will relate to their children. Most dads often overlook the fact that we are passing on teaching, messages and values to future generations while were during our own here and now.
Does this read as overwhelming? If the Bible is true, God makes no mistakes and you are the man for your family. You are the man God has placed into the lives of your children. God takes dads with all their imperfections and successes and uses it all to make something beautiful. Therefore, dads need wisdom from God. We’ve all heard of or maybe experienced dads who didn’t take their role seriously and squandered the opportunity to be a good dad. I don’t want that to be the postscript of my life. I’m guessing if you have read this far – you don’t want that postscript either.
God gives principles to fathers (and moms too) that when followed, the chances of being successful as a parent rise significantly! Deuteronomy 6: 1-12 is a great passage in which Moses reminds the ancient Israelites of their responsibility to raise their kids to know and honor God.
Why is it important to know and honor God? On a base level, God imparts wisdom for how to navigate life skillfully. Loving God with one’s all and our neighbors as ourselves is a key starting place. Jesus reiterates these principles to Christians today. Moses teaches fathers are to love, reverence and respect God first in more than a religious observance – but lives. From this position fathers are to teach their sons to love, reverence and respect God. Fathers reach even into the following generation by teaching their grandsons to love, reverence and respect God. 3 generations are in view in Deuteronomy 6:2. When you teach your son, you teach your son's son.
Kids ask the darnedest things. In Deuteronomy 6: 20, children will ask their dads (and moms) why do you do that thing you do? Why do you go to church? Why do you pray? Why are you nice to others? Why do you forgive others? Why do you share with strangers? Kids ask. If kids aren’t openly asking you can bet they’re watching and asking the questions in their own minds. Why does my dad do _________?
Moses was trying to prepare dads (and all parents) for the reality that they are prime influencers in their kids lives and when they teach their son, they’re teaching their son’s son (the next generation). Dads show their kids what’s important in life. Notice I didn’t write tell their kids what’s important in life. Talk is cheap. You can say something is important; however, it’s what you do that carries weight. It’s hard to respect the person who says, “do as I say, not as I do.” I write this not to crush anyone’s spleen with guilt but because it is a reality – bible or no bible. Dads, this isn’t a burden it’s a responsibility.
So, what does one do when their child askes them why they do what they’re doing? 3 things become important to the dad that wants to follow Moses’ and Jesus’ teaching in their life.
1. Tell your story. If you know Jesus – share your journey of faith in Christ in your own words with your children. Don’t make it weird; speak in your own terms and share your heart with your children. Around the dinner table, over a cold Jones Soda or smoking bowl of Pho – tell your story.
2. Tell why following Jesus is a good thing. It can be as simple likening your life to a boat. You want to navigate life taking on as few scrapes as possible while leaving as few marks on other boats as possible. To live such a life you need wisdom. God gives you such wisdom.
3. Celebrate your life with Jesus. Remember what is important for you will ultimately be important to your children. Live out the joy in your life found in Christ. Kids will gravitate to what brings joy and meaning to your life. They will not gravitate to a life resigned to follow rules. Can you image your children, grand children and even great grand children recalling stories about you to their kids? This can be your life and family's future!
When you teach your kids, you teach your kid’s kids. Dad you are a prime influencer in your child’s life. This is a great place to be – you are the right man for the job! You can do this because Jesus is with you each step of the way. Grace, mercy and love will guide you through tough times, failures and into joy as a father. Fatherhood (motherhood too) isn’t easy; however, it is incredibly rewarding! Go for it!
If any of this sounds too good to be true and you’re at a loss – contact myself and let’s talk about it. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.