Fathers, lead by example
My fellow fathers, I want to give you a word of encouragement this Father’s Day: do not underestimate the importance your conduct has in shaping the lives of your children. Let me be a little firmer, our children will be more inclined to follow our actions before they heed our words.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This wonderful promise in Proverbs has brought much comfort to many parents who yearn for the future wellbeing of their children. However, as a father of three girls, I know instinctively and by practice that wise instruction and godly guidance provide little help if my actions contradict my counsel. To conduct ourselves in a way that undermines our instruction is as foolish as pulling our children out of water to safety with one hand while pushing them under with the other. That is not the kind of training up Solomon had in mind.
Paul believed that conduct that confirmed and did not contradict counsel was of the utmost importance. In fact he stated godly character as the central qualification for those who would care for Christ’s church (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus1:5-9). Further, Paul’s final plea to the elders at Ephesus called for them to “pay careful attention” to themselves while caring “for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Living by example matters, especially when it comes to fathering our children. They have an uncanny ability to spot hypocrisy a mile away. They are continually watching our actions and behaviour, consciously or unconsciously developing their own behaviour accordingly.
Therefore, my earnest encouragement is this, be an example of a father who loves Jesus, not with just words but with actions. Show them that you revere the Word of God and time alone with Him in prayer. As leader in your home show them that Sunday corporate worship is non-negotiable so that they know that “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Show them what it means to be gentle, merciful, kind, and patient before you tell them to exemplify those characteristics toward their sibling. Show them what godly humility is by seeking forgiveness when you have wronged them. In other words, show them what it means to be a man of God who loves Christ. J. C. Ryle is right, “think not your children will practise what they do not see you do.”
Be assured fellow father, that as we come to savour Christ more and more, and walk in His ways, we are opening paths of righteousness for our children to walk down. Paths that will bring blessing and restoration for their soul. Paths that will protect them from wickedness and take them through darkened valleys without fear. And as they choose to follow us, together we will sing, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps 23:6). I believe that is the kind of training up Solomon had in mind. Brother, lastly remember, as you shepherd your children, you have the Great Shepherd guiding you. You are not alone! Every blessing this Father’s Day.