LUKE 9:51-62; 10:1-24
After 36 years of full-time ministry, which for many is not a long time, there are several things I have learned about relationships. Most of them have been learned by studying the life of Jesus Christ.
I have learned, as a minister, that in the ‘essential things’ of the Christian faith, Jesus always come first, and in the ‘non-essential things’ of the Christian faith, family comes first.
I have known Christian believers of the past, many who were ministers, that felt they had to be at ‘every’ Christian function other than church services and revivals. They were so busy ‘winning the world’ they forsook their family, and consequently, lost them to the world.
Jesus said this, “All that the Father has ‘given’ to me, will come to me, and he that comes to me I will not cast away (throw aside or abandon).” Inadvertently, many Christians with good intentions of serving the Lord have abandoned their family in an attempt to serve God. If the Lord Jesus is our Great High Priest, this makes us priests under Him, in the same way Jesus, being the Chief Shepherd, has gathered to Him ‘under-shepherds’, or just plain shepherds, ordained by Him to feed and protect His sheep.
Do you know how I know that the Lord loves pastors/shepherds? Because He made so many of them! This is also reason to understand how much God loves people; He provided an innumerable company of pastors so all those who come to God by Him will have a pastor over them to care for them. And, in the same way, God has provided for each child, a father; a man who, under God’s provision, is called to ‘shepherd’ and ‘pastor’ his children to grow up to love and serve the God of their father.
Part of the responsibility believers carry in their duty and devotion to the King, is to be made disciples. “Go therefore, into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt. 28:19)
It is the Heavenly Father which gave to the Lord Jesus the task of ‘making disciples’, and this is what He did in gathering to Himself the Twelve. And it is the Lord Jesus who has tasked us with ‘making disciples of all nations.’
I have always appreciated the words of Daisy Osborn when she made this statement concerning world missions and evangelism; she said each of us are to ‘start in our own backyard, and work our way to China’! Well, most of us will never end up in China, but all must begin in our own backyard, and when I say ‘backyard’, I am speaking of our family. Fathers are to make disciples of their children in the same way the Lord has made disciples, and in the same way godly pastors make disciples of their congregants.
Although the list of things for fathers to think about is much longer than what I can place in this blog, I am listing 5 things that I have learned over the years, both as a father and as a grandfather, which I think are important, at least to me, and I hope to you also.
1. Love God with all of your heart and soul, and make sure your children see you loving God with all of your heart and soul:
Too many Christian dads have acted like saints in Church but like tyrants at home. Many have discouraged their children, giving a false idea of a stern, disciplinarian, loveless God instead of a loving, caring and compassionate God that always has the children’s best interests at heart.
2. Make time for your family, especially for your children:
One thing I have come to realize in studying the life of the Lord Jesus is He always made time for people no matter where they were placed in society. A father that is too busy for his children is too busy! And he is the father that may lose his children when they grow older. Be involved with your children and do not be intimidated by them as they grow older. Find out what they are learning in school and, every school day, show an interest in what they are learning and help them with their school work if they need it. Interest is contagious! If you show an interest in what they do, they will begin to show an interest in what you do.
3. Pay whatever price is necessary for your family:
If accepting a promotion means spending less time with your children, or moving them away from friends and family members when they are growing up, the father seriously needs to consider whether or not a promotion is in the best interest of the family. Remember my earlier point; ‘In the essentials of the Christian faith, Jesus comes first, but in the non-essentials of the Christian faith, the family comes first.’ If a promotion or a move away from home in order to get a promotion is going to hurt your family, I don’t think it is a good idea. However, if the Lord is speaking to you to follow Him, then put the will of God first and the Lord will make provision for you and your family.
4. Make sure your children witness the power of God demonstrated in your home:
Too many believers live the Word of God as if it is an idea, not a reality. God’s power is real; God’s healing power is real and His ability to supernaturally sustain the children in the home is real. When children recognize God at work in their home, it will have an everlasting effect upon their lives when they grow up to be Fathers and mothers of their own.
5. Sow the seed of the Word of God in the hearts of your family:
Where the Word of God is sown into little hearts, is where the Word sown will grow to maturity and provide a harvest of eternal life. As the father of the family plants the seed of the Word, then continues to water the seed; God will give the increase.
I have chosen five bits of wisdom I have come to realize as truth over the years when it comes to raising and nurturing the family because the number 5 is the number of the grace of God, and grace certainly is needed when it comes to fathers doing their best to raise up a family in the nurture and admonition in the Lord. If fathers are intimidated in raising a godly family, and if they will earnestly pray, asking the Lord to help them be the best father they can be to their children, the Lord will help them and, in this I am sure, when the children grow up, they will love and appreciate everything their father did for them.