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A Call to Father’s to be Men of Faith and IntegrityJune 12, 2023
Raising children in the faith is a tremendous challenge. When we look at the Biblical families we encounter mostly tragedy. Cain murders his brother Abel. Isaac and Rebekah choose favorites between their sons, Esau and Jacob. The sons of the great prophet, Samuel, “Took bribes and perverted justice” (I Sam. 8:3-4). King David’s son, Absalom, tried to kill his father to get the throne.
I often hear older people comment they would hate to try to raise kids in today’s world because of the drugs, crime, and sexual promiscuity that are prevalent. It is clear today’s parents need all the help we can get. As Father’s Day approaches I have two thoughts to share.
One of the important lessons Jesus received from his earthly father was that Joseph was involved in Jesus’ life. We don’t know a lot about Joseph. It is believed he died while Jesus was growing up. We do know that Jesus learned to be a carpenter from His father. Involvement by the father in the life of children, especially sons, is critical to children growing up to be strong, confident adults of faith.
In 2017 Denzel Washington said about fathers, “It starts with how you raise your children. If a young man doesn’t have a father figure, he’ll go find a father figure. So, you know, I can’t blame the system. It’s unfortunate that we make such easy work for them.” The “Them” he is referring to are the gangs and other bad influences that are destroying young black men’s lives.
Secondly, couples need to let the church help raise kids. It saddens me how many children are growing up without learning who Jesus is. If Mary and Joseph believed regular worship and teaching in the synagogue and temple was necessary for Jesus, the Son of God, does that give us any guidance for our children? (Luke 2:41-52) Didn’t Jesus already know everything? He clearly knew a lot, but there is a lot more to worshipping God than knowing all the answers.
Many parents dread the idea of taking their children to worship because they don’t want to disturb anyone when their children act up. The logistics of getting kids and adults clean and dressed for church also seems a great task. Sometimes church folk and ministers don’t want loud children at their church, and they make parents feel uncomfortable.
But think about this question: How do children learn to love worshipping God? In studies the answer to this question is clear. They learn to love worshipping God by sitting next to, and looking into the faces of the big people they love during worship. If we want our children to love worshipping God, we can’t drop them off at the door, and leave them for the church to watch so we can run errands on Sunday morning.
One of my earliest memories of worship was when I sat with my father and mother in worship for the first communion I remember. I was six, and my father had recently confessed Christ as his Lord and Savior. As the elements were passed around, I had no idea what was going on. So, I looked at my father, who took his bread, then fell asleep.
I poked him and told him to wake up. He smiled and explained he was praying, not sleeping. He did the same thing when he received the wine. I had never seen my father this way, and I loved the look of peace on his face. It made a lasting impression, and to this day, taking communion is one of the most meaningful times of worship for me.
Our faith in Jesus Christ and our love of worship do not guarantee our children will grow up as faithful disciples, but it goes a long way to give our children the foundation they need for choosing the right path as adults. Even if they should stray as teens and young adults, the words of scripture give us great encouragement to be faithful worshippers with our children today. We read in Proverbs 22:6, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.”
We must remember that each child we love is not ours, but a gift to us from God. It is the greatest privilege to raise a child of God in the faith. Let us not let our Lord down. What does your child know about their faith in God? How are you teaching them that God loves them, and has a great plan for their lives? Who are the best kids/teenagers you know? Is there anything you can learn from their parents that can help you be a better parent? Have a happy Father’s Day! (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.org).