Dads: Day Ten and three quarters

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 become angry…” Ephesians 6:4

Before Paul talks about what to do, he tells us what not to do. You must not parent in a way that makes it easier for your children to become angry. But, how do we do that? The book of Proverbs describes a number of different ways we can provoke others to anger. 

You can make your children angry by being so sure of yourself that you don’t take other people’s suggestions seriously. 

You know the always right dad even when he is wrong?

Some men have mastered the art of never admitting that they don’t know something even when it is obvious to everyone else that they don’t have a clue what they are talking about. In Proverbs 13:10, Solomon says “By insolence comes nothing but strife.” Insolence refers to someone who won’t take advice. Your children can see if you are overconfident in your abilities and knowledge. And, they may be intimidated by you for a while. But they will soon learn that you are filled with hot air. Eventually, they will become bitter at you for not ever listening to good counsel. When your children are angry, you might just look at yourself and ask, do you ever admit you don’t know or that you are wrong? 

You can make your children angry by being so focused on your own personal best that you are willing to step over them to get it. Now, there are some people who are obviously selfish. When they don’t get what they want, they blow up and everybody can see it. There are others who are a little more self-controlled. That doesn’t mean however, they are any less selfish. They may look calm on the outside, but on the inside, they are scheming about how to use others to get what they want. In Proverbs 14:17 the writer warns, a man of “quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated.” The man of evil devices is a schemer. While the quick tempered man has no control over his emotions and does stupid things when he doesn’t get what he wants, the schemer is more disciplined. He keeps his emotions in check. But that doesn’t mean he is any better. Behind the scenes, he is making plans about how he can get what he wants and even how he can use other people to get what he want. There are a lot of dads like that. Because they are older, they are usually smarter than their kids. They don’t just freak out and do stupid things that show everybody how selfish they are when they don’t get what they want. But they are just as self-focused as their children. Proverbs says person like that is hated. If your children are angry, it might be a wake up call for you to ask yourself whether you are so overly focused on yourself and what you want that you barely notice your kids and what’s best for them?

You can make your children angry by being quick to argue. If you have ever taken a dog for a walk, you know, there are some dogs who have to chase anything that moves. They see the smallest thing, even grass blowing in the wind, and they are gone! When it comes to arguments and quarrels, there are people who are a little like that too. They can’t let an argument go. Any time there is a chance to show that they know more than someone else, that they are smarter than someone else, that someone else is wrong, they take it. Sometimes they do that even with their children. You will find adults who arguing with little children about the smallest things because no one is wise enough there to say, you know what, what color the carpet was at that house we stayed at three years ago is really not a subject worth getting into a fight about. If you love quarrels, you shouldn’t be surprised if you experience a whole lot of strife in your life. 

You can make your children angry by being a mocker. Small people enjoy making fun of small people. We often think it takes two to quarrel, but you know what, sometimes it only takes one!  When you have a person who enjoys hurting other people with his words, you are going to have angry children. Proverbs 22:10 says if you drive out a scoffer strife will go out, and quarrelling and abuse will cease. Now it is obviously not wrong to have fun with your children and even to tease, but there is a big difference between laughing with your children and laughing at them. Something is a little wrong when you find pleasure in making other people feel stupid or inadequate or awkward and if you enjoy that feeling can I just plead with you to check your heart, something is seriously off there. And the good news is that there’s a Savior for that. Jesus came for sinners, even sinners who are so messed up that they make fun of small children. But you have to recognize this as sin and as just another example of how you can’t save yourself, because there is something deep down wrong with you on the inside.   

Take Time to Reflect:

  1. Can you think of any other ways from the Bible that a father can provoke their children to wrath?
  2. Is there any specific way you tend to make it easier for children to become angry that you need to change?

Practical Suggestion:

Having identified one way you struggle, take that struggle to God and repent of ways in which you have sinned. Then go to your children, confess it as sin, and ask them for forgiveness as well. Now, make a plan. What can you do in those situations instead? You know what to put off, what do you need to put on in its place?

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