I have been working on a little devotional for fathers and thought I might share some of it with you from time to time. I know I need it!
“Fathers, do not…”
Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21
The very first responsibility Paul gives fathers is a negative one.
In Ephesians Paul says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger…” In Colossians, he says something similar, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, lest they become discouraged…”
While we’ve read this so many times it may seem commonplace, it’s actually a little bit shocking.
After all, if you tell the average person someone else needs to obey them completely, how do you think they would typically respond?
It would be natural to begin thinking of all the different ways they could use that person to do what they want. We respond like that because no matter how nice we may appear on the outside, as human beings, we are by nature, extremely self-centered.
It is typical for us to take power and use it for our own interests.
If you have any doubts about that, think about the way many fathers act in cultures where they are given unlimited power over their families. Does this position of power and respect make them more caring and servant-hearted towards their families? Not usually! How common is it to find lazy, self-seeking fathers who are demanding respect that their actions don’t deserve? These kind of men are everywhere.
And because of that, the world’s response to these kind of abuses of power and authority is to try to attack the very idea of power and authority. What we see in Ephesians and Colossians however, is that the gospel’s way of dealing with this problem is radically different. The gospel doesn’t deal with abuses of power and authority by getting rid of the idea of authority. Instead, it challenges and changes the way people in authority view their position.
Take what we find in Ephesians 6.
Paul does not minimize the child’s responsibility to his parents. In fact, he clearly tells children they are responsible for obeying their parents in everything as a way of honoring the Lord. He then encourages them that this is something that pleases God by pointing them to the promises God attaches to these commands. But what makes this passage so different is that Paul doesn’t stop there! He goes on to challenge fathers not to use the authority they have been given in self-centered ways by telling them that they too have a responsibility before God. They must not use their positions of power in ways that provoke their children to anger or discouragement.
While being a father is a privilege, even more fundamentally, it is a responsibility. The gospel calls you to a life of servant leadership. Leading your children well means you don’t think first about what they can do for you, but instead, on how you can use your authority to serve them. You must lead your family, certainly! But you must be careful not to lead them in a way that makes it easier for them to sin.
Take Time To Reflect:
1. How do you define leadership? How has the gospel impacted your definition?
2. How are you actually leading your family? Does your family revolve around you and what you want, or do you use your leadership to serve Jesus by serving them?
Sit down with your wife and ask her to honestly evaluate your leadership style. What does she think you are doing well? What does she think you can improve? Then take some time to talk with your children. Ask them how you can serve them better? Encourage them to share ways they think you can make it easier for them to obey.