Lifestyle Discipleship: Good Followers Make Good Fathers
By Matt Steele
In his excellent book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp writes:
The only safe guide is the Bible. It is the revelation of God who has infinite knowledge and can therefore give you absolute truth. God has given you a revelation that is robust and complete. It presents an accurate and comprehensive picture of children, parents, family life, values, training, nurture, discipline. All you need to be equipped for the task of parenting.
Brothers, we must be men of the Book if we are going to undertake the task of parenting in a way that honors God and blesses our children. We will not succeed if we parent by our own power.
Pastor John Piper comments, “Dad should take the initiative to make sure that plans, processes and people are in place to build a vision of God, truth and holiness into the lives of the children.” That’s how we bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
The great news for all of us is that we don’t do this on our own. We have one another (the Church) for help and support. We are a family together
Let’s look together at just one verse and see what it says about parenting. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
DO NOT PROVOKE YOUR CHILDREN TO ANGER
What are some ways in which it is possible to provoke our children to anger? Inconsistency in discipline is one way. Hypocrisy is another. Whenever someone tells me they have an angry child, I always ask them to tell me about their own anger issues. Our kids will always learn from our example. What are your children learning from you?
BRING THEM UP
This phrase means to provide for, especially with nourishment. We are to raise our children with an overtone of care. This is the same phrase that Paul uses in Ephesians 5:29 when he writes, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”
Love must be our attitude and posture as we give discipline and instruction to our children. We have an excellent model for how to do this: our Heavenly Father. He is the one who is working all things together for our good. Do our children know that we are attempting to work all things, including discipline and instruction, together for their good? Brothers, if we do this, we will show them what our God is like.
IN THE DISCIPLINE
Discipline is the set of actions that we take in order to give our children the facilities, skills and character to live their lives for the glory of God. This same idea is found in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”
It is also found in Hebrews 12:7-8:
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
We show, with our words and our actions, how to walk in a way that is Christ-exalting. We also show the consequences of not doing so. Fathers, if you and I are not students of the word of God, devoted to prayer, and active in Christian community, this task will be too much. We will operate with insufficient power and offer our children nothing but flawed, worldly wisdom.
This phrase is not about teaching our children. It is about warning our children. See how it is used in other passages in Paul’s letters:
Colossians 1:28 – Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 – And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all
1 Corinthians 4:14 – I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
We must be actively warning our children of the consequences of living a life without regard for God and His word. If God truly has given us everything we need for life and godliness (and He has) we owe it to our children to give and teach them this insight.
OF THE LORD
Finally, we see the direction we should be pointing our children: the Lord. Our parenting should always be through the Lord, and for the Lord.
Fathers, in order to be active disciple-makers in your home, you must guide all your works and ways by God’s word, depend on God’s wisdom and strength, and make everything in your life about the glory of Christ. The most important work that you and I have to do is raising up the disciples that the Lord has given us in our own homes. Let us live and raise them in such a way that they grow to see Christ as their greatest treasure and the goal of their existence.
Matt and Laura Steele have been married for 24 years. Parents to 6 kids, they are blessed to have both biological and adopted children. The Steeles have also spent time as foster parents. Matt is employed by Cepheid as a Manager of Sales Training and Development, while Laura homeschools the kids. The Steeles are from Texas and moved to Raleigh from Lake Villa, IL. Matt and Laura are graduates of Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Matt has a Masters from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Matt and Laura are certified Biblical counselors.