Fathers, guide and protect and provide for your children.
We recently saw in Psalm 23 that God, pictured as a shepherd and a host, guides and protects and provides for us, and that’s the pattern for us as fathers on earth who are following our Father in heaven. Fathers, guide and protect and provide for your children.
Fathers, guide your children.
Fathers, we need to serve as the guides for our children, both formally and informally.
Formally, we guide our children by gathering our families around the Word as individual families and with our church families. Both are important. Our children need to hear their fathers reading the Word and praying the word over them, and our children need to go with their fathers to corporate worship with the body of Christ. The former doesn’t need to be rigid, and the latter does need to be regular.
Reading the Word as a family can be as simple as reading a passage of Scripture, and answering together basic questions like: What does this passage teach us about God? What does this passage teach us about us? What should we do because of this passage?
While Family Bible Times (as we call them in our family) may not be possible daily, leading the family to Corporate Worship does need to be weekly. Make it a priority for your family. When your children see it’s a priority for their father, they will be far more likely to make it a priority for them for the rest of their lives.
Informally, we guide our children by how we live. The saying is true: more is caught than taught. Fathers, are you regularly reading the Word on your own? Are you consistently praying on your own? Do you value the Body of Christ? Are you joyfully serving your families and wholeheartedly following Jesus? Our children see these things – for good or ill – in us, and they’re learning by how we live.
Fathers, protect your children.
Our heavenly Father not only guides, but he protects his children. A consistent theme in the Psalms is that God is our refuge. He is our shield and our shelter. He protects us from harm. Yes, he disciplines those he loves, but even that is a part of his good protection of us. And all of those things show us how we are to protect our children. We protect our children by keeping harm from them and by keeping them from harm.
We keep harm from them by, so far as we are able, not allowing harmful things to enter our homes. I’m not talking about keeping lighters out of reach and outlet covers in place (as appropriate as those things are for certain ages), I’m talking about those things that would bring spiritual harm to your children. Are you allowing things in your home that would lead your children’s hearts away from Christ?
The number of children who are exposed to pornography at an early age is staggering, often leaving long-lasting harmful impact on their lives. What are you doing to protect them from this? Perhaps just as damaging, but not as visible, what about the worldviews that they’ll encounter in their teenage years? Are you careful not only about what media content they see and hear in your homes, but also about equipping them by having strategic conversations when them as they grow up, preparing them in advance for what they’ll encounter?
We’re to keep harm from them, but we’re also called to keep them from harm. By that I mean, we’re to discipline our children to help them grow to make wise choices and not to foolishly and willfully walk into harm themselves. Fathers, discipline is an important part of our job description. It is a reflection of our love for our children and a way that we mirror our God who disciplines those he loves. Discipline should be loving, it should be consistent, and it should be corrective, that is, is should not only point them away from what is wrong but also toward what is right. Are you lovingly, consistently pointing them away from harm and toward what is good?
Fathers, provide for your children.
Finally, just like our heavenly Father provides for us, so that we can say “I have what I need” (Psalm 23:1, CSB), so also we’re to provide for our children. Part of that is what has been said above, in guiding and protecting them spiritually, but it also includes meeting their physical needs. That seems basic, but there’s also something significant going on here as we do this.
As our children see us working to ensure they have all they need, they see not only an example of a godly work ethic, they see us doing what’s needed to make sure they lack nothing. And what a picture that is of our Father in heaven, who has done all that we need, to be sure that we lack nothing. Every sacrifice you make to be sure they are provided for is an opportunity to point them to the sacrifice their heavenly Father made to provide for them what was most needed, salvation in Christ. We don’t connect those dots for them often, but over time, as they grow and mature, we can help them see the bigger picture. We sacrifice to provide for them, because God not only provides for us the daily bread, in Christ he has sacrificed to provide for us the bread of life, and we have the privilege of pointing our children to that.
Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.