We have heard many things deemed essential or non-essential recently in our society.
We certainly appreciate many of these essential professions—health care, first responders, food, transportation, and more.
Yet, one essential life role that is too often overlooked is that of being a father. As a dad of four, I can tell you that this role is not only essential, but it is also rewarding.
I agree with the words of George Herbert: “One father is worth more than a hundred schoolmasters.” There are many people who can influence our kids, but a father’s influence—for good or for bad—is more weighty than many others combined.
Ephesians 6:4 teaches fathers both the negative and positive ways they should use their essential, weighty role: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
There are more ways to provoke a child to anger than the obvious moments of irritation. When a father is angry, abusive, or absent, it creates wounds, often unseen, in the heart of a child that can lead to deep-rooted anger. I believe much of the rage in our society today is due to fathers who have provoked their children in these ways.
But Ephesians 6:4 doesn’t only tell fathers what not to do; it also instructs us in what to do: “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Dads, think about these five ways you can nurture your child instead of provoking him or her:
1. Live a consistent life at home and church.
Your children do not expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be real. The inconsistency when a parent pretends to be one thing at church and then pulls the mask off at home and becomes someone else will discourage a child more than just about anything else.
Consistency in a dad brings security to the heart of a child. You can’t be a perfect dad or a perfect Christian, but you can be a growing dad and a growing Christian.You can’t be a perfect dad or a perfect Christian, but you can be a growing dad and a growing Christian. Click To Tweet
2. Give quality time.
Time is our most valuable commodity, and when we give it to our children, we show them that they are valuable to us.
Giving quality time doesn’t have to be done in weekend marathons of activity. It should be regular and purposeful. You give quality time by having family devotions each night, taking an occasional family day, planning your family vacations, and looking for small teaching moments throughout the week.Time is our most valuable commodity, and when we give it to our children, we show them that they are valuable to us. Click To Tweet
3. Place a priority on relationships over rules.
Rules are necessary; relationships are essential. And rules without a relationship lead to rebellion.
So yes, set family rules. To not do so communicates a lack of interest and love. But if you find yourself spending all your time enforcing rules, step back and consider how you can spend more time building the relationship.If you find yourself spending all your time as a dad enforcing rules, step back and consider how you can spend more time building your relationship. Click To Tweet
4. Communicate your love.
You know that the long hours you work for your family are a demonstration of love, but your children don’t understand that. You must verbalize your love.
Leave notes before you go on a business trip. Send a random text to your teen in the middle of the day. Pick up a surprise “just because” gift. Most of all, tell them specifically, “I love you.”You know that the long hours you work for your family are a demonstration of love, but your children don’t understand that. You must verbalize your love. Click To Tweet
5. Surround your child with godly influences.
Over the course of eighteen years, there will be many influences in your children’s lives. The best way to make sure those influences are helpful to your children is to put them in environments where the influences are godly and reinforcing of your values. In particular, surround them with influences who are positive about Christ and His work in the local church.
If God has given you the privilege of fatherhood, don’t lightly esteem that role. You are essential in the life of your child.If God has given you the privilege of fatherhood, don’t lightly esteem that role. You are essential in the life of your child. Click To Tweet