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 provoke your children to anger…” Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21
How you relate to your children can make it more difficult for them to obey God.
Think about that.
Because, that’s pretty heavy.
I know we talk a lot about personal responsibility and we should. After all, we are responsible for our own sins. And yet, others can make it easier for us to sin. Isn’t that the warning Paul’s giving in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21?
As a father you can provoke your children.
Specifically he identifies two common responses to poor fatherly leadership. Some children will respond by losing heart. Others by freaking out. The truth is, sometimes the same child will go back and forth between these two responses depending on how he is feeling that day.
And, obviously that child is going to stand before God. If he is getting angry, he has a responsibility not to get angry. That is a wrong response. If he’s discouraged, he has a responsibility to rejoice in all circumstances. That’s a command. But, your children are not the only ones with a responsibility! Paul says you need to recognize that you can do things that make it easier for your children to become sinfully angry or discouraged.
Do you hear that?
Do you understand that?
It means when you see one of your children throwing temper tantrums, you need to ask yourself, am I to blame? Is there something about the way I am parenting that it provoking my child to act like this?
Sometimes we see children who are not getting angry and throwing temper tantrums and we compare them to others who are and we think, well, those two children just have different personalities. End of story. And there is some truth to that, of course. There is no question that some children struggle more with anger or discouragement and that some children are more self-willed, but at the same time, it’s not always that simple, either. There can be another element to this, and that is the way the parent is acting towards the child.
It’s not your job to look at other people’s children and figure out whether it is the child’s temperament or the parents actions that’s causing the poor behavior, but in your own family, it is. If your children are struggling with patterns of anger or discouragement, you need to stop and think about some ways that you as a father might be tempting them to respond like that.
Take Time to Reflect:
1. Do your children struggle with patterns of anger or discouragement? If so, what are some specific examples you have seen recently?
2. What are some habits you have a father that make it difficult for your children to respond in ways that honor God?
Think about leaders you have had in your life. What have good leaders done that made it easier for you to obey them? What are some things they might have done that made it tempting for you to become discouraged or angry? Now, are any of those characteristics true of the way you lead your family? Ask God to help you humbly evaluate yourself, and repent and change where necessary.