Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Another Voice - Parenting 1

I'm back from holidays - sorry for the long delay. Over the next few days I'll be posting several of the columns I had written for the local newspaper while I was away.

Parenting – part 1

On Sunday mornings we’ve been looking at a book of the Bible called Ephesians. Last week we looked at a couple of verses that were directed at parents and children. So I thought I’d take the few weeks to share with you some of the things we found.

Paul writes,

‘Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.’ – Ephesians 6:4.

The verse specifically singles out fathers because he expects them to take the lead in the home, and not abdicate responsibility as they often do. Yet Paul’s instructions include mothers too.

Why is parenting important in God’s sight? It is important because parents have a massive responsibility – not just the physical care of their children, but because they are setting the spiritual compass of their children’s lives. Your beliefs and values will be the first that they adopt as their own. What a sobering thought it is to think of our children standing on the Day of Judgment and saying, “Dad, Mum, why didn’t you tell me any of this stuff?”

Why does God care what sort of fathers we are? Because dads in particular have an extremely high calling – we are called to be a picture of what God is like. When I read in the Bible that God is like a fathermy mind fills with images of a loving, protecting, disciplining, passionate father like my own. Unfortunately I know that there are those who have a very different image of a father – absent or abusive, unloving or angry, inconsistent or volatile. How will God the Father treat those who have blackened his portrait to their children? Your children’s idea of God as father is shaped hugely by their own father. How much do you fathers try to reflect godly qualities to your children? Did you realise that this was your job?

So fathers, you and I are to take our lead, not from society, nor even our own fathers, but we are to care for our families as God cares for his. To do so we need to know personally how he deals with his children – that can only come about when we ask him to bring us into his family through Jesus. Then not only will we experience the perfect father’s love and care first hand, but we will find him giving us the strength to demonstrate his fatherliness to our own children.

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