Father’s Day 2015
Dads as Disciplers
1 Thessalonians 2: 10 – 12, Ephesians 6: 4, Malachi 4: 6
Dads, we want to say thanks today. Normally the pattern has been to magnify moms on Mother’s Day and to diss dads on Father’s Day. “Fathers sleep a lot, and they snore loudly. When they’re awake, they like to fish or golf, but they’re comically bad at both…they’re complete couch potatoes, always watching television and hogging the remote. At least, that’s the less-than favorable image of Dad on Father’s Day greeting cards. It’s a striking contrast to the poetic praise often expressed at Mother’s Day. Many men say they are tired of the ‘put-down’ cards and would like some affirmation for a change…”
I celebrate the commitment to fathering that I see in a number of fathers here in our church.
I recognize that for some of you this day is difficult because your dad is no longer here or has dropped the ball somehow.
Some of us have been blessed with tremendous models of what fatherhood was meant to be: a reflection of our relationship with our Father in heaven. But there are others who have been ignored, neglected, abused or abandoned. For you, Father’s Day is anything but happy.
I sincerely hope that you will allow our Heavenly Father to meet that which is lacking in your life. May you experience the truth of Psalm 68: 5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
My aim is to both encourage and challenge dads to be about the task of making disciples in your families. We’re going to do this by putting together 10 parenting principles from 3 different passages that are specifically addressed to dads. We’ll begin in 1 Thessalonians 2 and then we’ll head over to Ephesians 6 and then end in Malachi 4.
1 Thessalonians 2: 10 - 12: “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his children, encouraging, comforting and urging you, to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory.” In the beginning of the chapter Paul uses the metaphor of a mother to explain his gentleness and now he focuses on his fatherly side. Dads, here are 10 ways we want to say thanks today.
1. Thanks for being a good example.
Paul and his ministry partners point to how they behaved among the believers: “…how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” In short, Paul and his team dealt with these believers with dignity and honour. Dads, thanks for being where you need to be!
2. Thanks for caring for your children.
Paul describes his relationship with this church like a dad deals with his own children: “…encouraging, comforting and urging you, to live lives worthy of God.” They had a personal rapport with each one of these baby believers. Dads, it’s important for us to get as close as we can to each of our children. In order to provide personal counsel, we must know each of their personalities. Look for ways to spend time with them, according to what it is they like to do.
3. Thanks for encouraging your children.
Means “to come alongside with instruction and insight in order to move someone in a specific line of conduct.” We all need someone to encourage us, to come close and cheer us on, don’t we? This word is similar to the word used for the Holy Spirit, the one who encourages us by coming alongside. Thanks, dads for those times you see discouragement and you’ve spoken the right words or given a hug or just listened. Our children need to hear us say, “You can do it. I know you can. It’s time to stay in the game. I’m with you.”
4. Thanks for comforting your children.
This word is nearly synonymous with exhort and means to come alongside with sympathy and concern. It’s the idea of giving comforting words to cheer up our children. This word is used in
When our children are doing OK, they need encouragement. When they’re falling apart, they need comfort. In both instances children need fathers who will come close to them.
5. Thanks for urging your children to go deep with God.
Means “to beg earnestly” and was used of an anguished appeal from one who is a witness. Our children need dads who will give testimony of what is right and who will challenge them to go to the next level. Faithful fathers provide correction in a spirit of comfort and encouragement.
I’d like to point out that these 3 words: encouraging, comforting and urging are in the present tense which means they are to be our continual practice. Thanks dads for repeatedly reinforcing these important truths.
Let’s turn now to Ephesians 6: 4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Notice that Paul is calling out fathers. I think Paul addresses just dads here because he knows that we especially need to hear what follows. In essence, we’re challenged to see the word “fathers” as a verb not just a noun. It’s biologically easy to become a father, but biblically challenging to actually “father” our children.
6. Thanks for not exasperating your children.
This part of our responsibility is quite challenging. Paul knows that fathers, who are fallen creatures, are prone to abuse their authority in the home. This warning is calling us dads to avoid anything that will eventually break the spirit of our children. When we exasperate our children, they can become bitter.
7. Thanks for bringing your children up to believe.
A contrast between what we should not do and what we are to do. We are to bring our children up because by nature they’ll go down. Dads, we are to take an active role in shaping the character of our children. Disciplemaking dads provide a nurturing atmosphere in the home where children can grow up to follow Christ.
8. Thanks for disciplining your children.
“Training” carries the idea of a warning, especially during “teachable moments.” You may hesitate to discipline because you think that you’re being unkind to your children. Actually, when we don’t discipline, it’s more than unkind – it’s unloving. If we love our children, then we must admonish, rebuke, and discipline them.
Our kids not only need correction, they want it. If we don’t give it to them, we’re failing them and may cause them to fall away from the faith. It’s important to understand the difference between discipline and punishment. The purpose of punishment is to inflict penalty and focuses on the past. The purpose of discipline is to promote growth by looking to the future. Dads, our children are looking for us to train them and love them by disciplining them. Thanks for having the courage to do this.
9. Thanks for admonishing your children.
Means to encourage and exhort - refers to any word of encouragement or reproof which leads to correct behavior. Dad, you are the coach and captain of your team. Our goal is not merely to get our children to outwardly conform to a list of rules. Our mandate is to develop children who seek to glorify God with their lives. Thanks, dads for not just teaching your children to do good things but to serve God and live for His glory.
10. Thanks for having a heart for your children.
Malachi 4: 6: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
This is God’s last word for about 400 years before the Gospels come on the scene. God’s heart is for my heart to be toward my children and for the heart of my children to be turned toward me. Dads, this is a specific challenge to us.
Dads, if you sense that your heart is not really into parenting, and your children don’t have much to do with you, then make this verse your personal prayer. Ask God to turn your heart to your children and ask Him to turn their hearts to you. While we cannot turn their hearts around we are responsible to make sure our own hearts are soft toward them.
Thanks for looking for ways to let God heal the hurts in your own heart as you shepherd the hearts of your children.
Dads, before you leave this service feeling piled and discouraged by your own failures and inconsistency, let me remind you of a few things:
1. There are no perfect fathers, except our Heavenly Father.
Chuck Swindoll -“C’mon dads…Let’s start saying no to more and more of the things that pull us farther and farther away from the ones who need us the most…You’re not perfect? So, what else is new? You don’t know exactly how to pull it off? Welcome to the club…your family doesn’t expect profound perfection, command performances, or a superhuman plan. Just you – warts and all…Let’s get started.”
2. We can all be better dads if we will work at it.
Malachi 4: 2 says that God comes with healing in His wings! Let the bitterness go. Forgive. As someone has said, “One way to correct your children is to correct the example you’re setting for them.”
3. We do not father alone.
If you’re not saved, you need the Saviour! You will never be able to lead your family until you make Jesus Lord of your life.
4. Grandpas can stand in the gap.
Thanks for stepping up, Grandpa!
5. Look for ways to be a mentor to others. Now that’s affirmation for a change!
A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated. He found his 5 year old son waiting for him at the door. “Daddy, may I ask you a question?” The dad replied: “Yeah, sure, what is it?” “Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?” The dad got mad and said, “That’s none of your business! Why do you want to know?”
The little boy said, “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” The dad, wanting to sit down and relax, said, “If you must know, I make R100 an hour.”
The little boy sighed and bowed his head. Looking up, he asked, “Daddy, may I borrow R50 please?” The father flew off the handle, “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is so that you can get some cash to buy some stupid toy, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. You’re so selfish. I work long, hard hours every day and don’t have time for this.”
The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The dad sat down and started to get even madder about the nerve of his little boy. How dare he ask questions only to get some money. After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think that maybe he was a bit hard on his boy. Maybe his son really needed the money for something important. So, the father went up to his boy’s room, “Are you asleep, son?” “No daddy. I’m awake,” replied the boy. “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day, and I took it out on you. Here’s that 50 bucks you asked for.”
The little boy sat straight up, beaming. “Oh, thank you, daddy!” he exclaimed. Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out a wad of crumpled notes. The dad, seeing that the boy already had some money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his dad. The dad demanded to know what was going on, “Why did you want more money if you already had some?”
The little boy replied, “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have R100 now…and I’d like to buy an hour of your time.”