Marraige and Family
From a Pastor's Heart...Fatherhood
04/01/2008 - I have been on an adventure lately and I want you to join me. This adventure has been one of discovery. Please keep in mind this is a daily adventure. This is not one of those destinations that once you are there you don't have to worry about it you must work hard to continue in this place of freedom and power. This adventure is one of fatherhood! I want you to come with me as I share some things I'm learning. Though it is also likely that you have gone down this road already and I am just the slow one. Either way, tag along in this adventure.
I always considered my self a good dad. I get on the floor with my kids and play (sometimes I am even able to get back up), we laugh and tell stories, I take care of their basic needs, and I am even able to coach from time to time. Though that may be good it is not the best. I am a pastor and I have fallen in love with the Bible. A big part of this adventure is a study I began about three years ago. I wanted to get to the very world of Jesus. I wanted to know how he grew up and how he learned.
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I wanted to learn Jesus' educational system. I needed to know how he was trained. I know that scripture teaches he is God but I also know that he was man and did not cut any corners. By the time Jesus was five years old he most likely went to a school that taught him the Torah. He would have memorized scripture along with other relatives. By the time Jesus was twelve years old he had memorized at least the first five books of scripture but perhaps even the entire Old Testament, as we know it. Then he was taught a trade and most likely studied under a rabbi. Jewish resources identify two main rabbis and it just so happens that Jesus quotes them both. This is a remarkable education system but even more remarkable to me is the role of the father in this process.
Deuteronomy 6:20-25, lays out a method of teaching your children through a series of questions and answers. This was expected from every father. Each dad would train their children in things of God. There were no excuses. If you were not taught as a child you learned. No excuses. I began to be convicted. I am a pastor and I have many evening appointments and I was finding that my calendar was full and to my chagrin my family was not always a priority on my calendar. I thought "how can I teach this stuff if I don't live this stuff." The answer is "I can't!" I continued in my studies and began to try to understand the etymological root of the word "father" to see if this would help.
When I began the study I was not sure where it would take me. I found that the word "father" in general terms comes from three main ideas "nourish, protect and uphold." I began to realize that my identity as a father was sorely lacking. I unwittingly turned many of my responsibilities over to mom. I have justified this in the past but I could no longer justify my lack of input into the lives of my children. I decided I was going to own my faults. I decided I was going to do something about it. I would train my children. I would nourish, protect and uphold my family.
Nourish is different then nurture. Mom's are great at nurturing and own that role (not exclusively) but nourish is to give food that will help children to grow healthy. That is my responsibility. One of things I immediately re-vamped was "the allowance." No more will my kids get paid for things like taking out the trash, or cleaning their rooms. Those things should be done because they are a part of a family but I wanted them to fill their mind with "healthy" things… therefore, their allowance was given based on books they read that my wife and I picked out. We began to spend times in the evening reading a portion of scripture and discussing it. This meant I had to not schedule so much in the evening and sometimes I have had to be very creative but my children love it!!!
The second part of the root of the word for father is "protector." Protector means to take a holistic approach to our children. Sure we feed them and take care of them but we also must protect their mind and spirit. We decided to homeschool our children only because we feel we are best capable to equip our kids and teach them how to be in the world but not of the world." Not everyone shares our conviction and that is okay. Some people want to homeschool and cannot for a variety of reasons. Fathers can still protect their children. For example… when we watch a television show or a movie we discuss it. When a song comes on the radio we discuss it. We have tried to open the door of discussion for our children, to protect them and help them to have a distinctly Christian worldview.
The third part of the root of the word father is "upholder." We want our children to be just in their decisions and we know that we must model that justice in our own lives. Please note: I fall short on this one often. So I apologize and try to do better. This role can also be called the encourager. I think I am giving my kids a realistic perspective of what they can do and what they should not do and the reasons why. But through this process no one will out cheer me, no one will sing higher praises then I will for my children.
In studying who Jesus was in the New Testament I have been on an adventure of who I am supposed to be as a father. I am not perfect and my kids extend grace because they are seeing my effort in their lives. I hope that you join me in this adventure.
I have supplied a list of questions for dads to consider and also a list of resources to peruse at your convenience.
1)Do you feel that you are a missing out on your children? If so, how?
2)Do you see areas in your life where you could be a better father? If so, how?
3)Are you a dad who nourishes?
4)Are you a dad who protects?
5)Are you a dad who upholds?
6)How can you better carve out time for your family?
7)What are areas you can improve on?
8)What is one thing that you learned from this article that you can apply today?
3)"What Kids Whish Parents Knew About Parenting" by Joe White