In capturing a child’s heart, a parent is to exercise God delegated authority over the child. God has given parents the duty to rule, lead, decide, command, judge, set policy and limits to their children. He has placed you as a parent to act on his behalf to shape the child’s life as God sees fit and not necessarily as you do. Based upon that, parents are to discipline, instruct, train and correct their child on behalf of God and not their own agenda. They are to declare to the child what God has said and promote that into the child’s life.
Authority is a call to engage your child with you in charge and not acting as an adviser until the child shows maturity. A common mistake made with young children is placing too many choices with the child that they are not ready to make. For example, asking a child “what do you want to eat, wear, do, etc.?” When you do this you are relinquishing authority and teaching them they have the right to make these decisions that may lead to a loss of control and conflict over what they wear, eat, or do with their free time. When a child has been trained and shows the maturity to make these decisions with prudence, then the authority can be relinquished.
Douglas Wilson stated, “A child not under the authority of his parents (by his choice or the parent’s) is in grave danger.”
I will address ‘control’ next.
In Pastor Tom’s sermon this last Sunday (“Show Me His Glory,” 1 Corinthians 6:12-20), he stated, “dads need to show up!” The context was in teaching our children the principle that there is an organic union between Christ and the believer and you cannot divorce what you do in the flesh with what is done in the Spirit.
So where are the fathers? They are physically around but when it comes to the subject of teaching our children about virtue, manhood or womanhood, relationships and sex, we fathers often bring a knife to a gunfight.
We fathers are tempted to set aside our responsibility to equip our children for the rigors of manhood and womanhood through laziness, looking for a way out, and then we lie to ourselves thinking our children already know these things. We tell ourselves “they are good kids and will make good choices most of the time. Besides they are at ______ School and they are teaching them aspects of this that are good things. Maybe I will just leave a book on the table and they will read it.”
The truth is your children do not know as they ought to know. They may understand a few things but incomplete or inaccurate information is often times more harmful than no information at all.
There is much to be said about this but there are two outstanding resources for dads to consider in inspiring and equipping them for such training of their children. Both these books will help in formulating a biblical plan of bringing your children into maturity as both are rich with Scripture and gospel-centered.
The first resource is titled “What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him” by Bryon Forrest Yawn. This book challenges you as a father to step up as a dad to guide and model maturity to your children. I found this book inspiring to me as a father even with my children long married and lots of grandchildren.
The second resource is a book long overdue and on the topic that I get asked often if there are resources for…it is titled “Time for the Talk” by Steve Zollos. The talk is about “the talk,” but the talk is so much more than a biological talk. This book gives elements of the biological information but focuses on virtue, character and biblical values that must be embraced.
Pick up both books in the near future and you men who read this, seek a few other fathers to join you in a conversation about the chapters in these books over coffee. Call me and I would love to join in on the conversation.