Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Deuteronomy 6:1-2
How can a father best pastor his family? By praying over the meal? Family devotions? Book reading before bedtime? Commanding church attendance despite a late night out? Not that these “textbook requirements” aren’t effective, but they weren’t for me.
Now with the world turned upside down and the church rendered practically ineffective to minister to kids (at least for the time being), who else is going to keep the ship afloat? Live streaming’s not the answer. How can we expect a naturally “restless” kid to watch and benefit from a church service on TV, when even mom and dad can be distracted?
On top of this, with the world so egregiously and overtly evil, parents must seize the reins anyway before it’s too late. For too long we’ve tended to gravitate to churches that seemed to cover all the bases, and we’ve abdicated our responsibilities to do the heavy lifting when it comes to spiritually teaching our kids. Now the enemy really is at the gate.
What’s more, I’m also seeing even greater stress placed on moms, who have willingly accepted the role of family teacher, who are now in an almost continual “lockdown.” Now we’re asking that they do even more work. This is not to mention those who have to also work to make ends meet, with a whole new set of complications.
I wrote the following six years ago, believe it or not, in a much simpler day. The theme was Deuteronomy 6:4–7.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
A good dad teaches his family, particularly his children, 24/7. If he opens his eyes there is always a lesson that can be taught from life. Simply noticing nature and crediting the Creator will work. It does not take imagination, just a set of eyes. You see a man in a wheelchair, you tell your kid how Jesus healed the crippled. Most of all you tell him or her that God loves that man. In times of joy–perhaps after a first touchdown–you give glory to God. In times of sadness you spout a psalm of encouragement. How about when you screw up? Don’t say that doesn’t happen on occasion! Then you teach your kids about forgiveness, after you demonstrate how you ask for it!
Most important, though, is to be the keeper of the family’s spiritual journal. Dad, the family pastor frequently accounts for all God’s providential leading of the family, and in the lives of its members. “May we never forget the hand of God!” should be his mantra. You get the idea.
Another thought. More is caught then taught, they say. But what if you live an exemplary life, and also actively teach God’s word in real time in all aspects of life? I may have only led the family in a few purposeful devotions around the dinner table, but my sermons were given more often than not. As a father, you are God’s oracle to attach his greatness and purpose to all that occurs in life. Only then have you–have I–discharged my responsibility.
Oh yes, once you’re finished with your kids, begin again with your grand kids, as long as you draw breath.