Children aren’t raised by accident. They are brought up by careful and deliberate parenting. I once skipped church to go to my friend’s house. Later in the day my dad asked me how church was. I said that I had not gone. He was silent for a moment, a long moment. Then he spoke quietly. He never yelled at me. Never. He asked me very soberly if I would ever do that again. I said, “No.” I didn’t. Church was important to Mom and Dad, and it became important to me. So were daily devotions, alone and with the family. So was evening mealtime. Same for Karen’s family.
Our daughter Erikka recently said to me in a conversation about parenting: “We love getting together, all six of us siblings. No tension, no fighting, pure joy and laughter. You know why? You made us come together. We had devotions in the morning, even when we were grouchy. We ate dinner together and we talked. You put a jar on the table, and we would take turns picking the topic for conversation. We learned to relate in a fun way. And we really enjoyed it. We went to church. Always. No exceptions. We went on family vacations together. And we worked together on Saturdays. We had work parties. No surprise–we love being together.”
Did they ever complain? What do you think? We did it anyway. Did they like getting up and reading the Bible together? Sometimes. Dads, it was my job to see that we gathered. Why are they all following Jesus today? Why are they teaching their kids better than we did to love and honor the Lord? Because it had been modeled for us the same way, and we did what we knew.–with Holy Spirit grace. Call it legacy–the passing on of the faith from one generation to the next. What could be more important? Then expect Satan to intercept it with a thousand excuses. My kids whined. We did it anyway. Every one of them is glad we did!
I wish the Bible heroes we admire had some parenting skills. Samuel, a great prophet, knew nothing about being a dad. “When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel…Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice” (I Samuel 8:1,3). He wasn’t even aware that his sons were incapable of leading the nation. He unwisely put them in positions of influence, and they abused the power.
“And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (3:19). Too bad that some of those words were not directed toward his own boys.
Samuel knew about the sons of Eli. God spoke to him when he was a boy and said, “I am about to punish [Eli’s} house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God and he did not restrain them” (2:13). Had he learned from the divine judgment, he might have spared his sons from the same.
Absalom hated his father and tried to overthrow him. David was crushed when he heard the news of his death. Absalom died from dart wounds, but he really died of father wounds. David was a better fighter than a father. He didn’t know how to relate to his children, and especially the son who was most like him. Thank God we have all learned a lot since then about intentional parenting.