Our family was shattered by a divorce, which was preceded by my Dad’s adulterous relationship and knock-down-drag-out verbal brawls between Mom and Dad.
As a kid, I was, like so many of you, the unfortunate victim of divorced parents. Our family was shattered by a divorce, which was preceded by my Dad’s adulterous relationship and knock-down-drag-out verbal brawls between Mom and Dad. Subsequently, my Dad was gone. A growing relationship with my Brother and Sister was gone. My Mom was emotionally gone. I felt alone. My loneliness prompted me to try and fill an emptiness within me for the next twenty years!
I searched low for answers (“high” in my mind would imply something godly). As I continued in my lowness, God reached down into the pit of Hell and pulled me out. Consequently, as a Christian, I began asking questions about my ability to be a good father. Here are a few questions I’ve pondered over the years.
- “Would I continue the legacy of bad fathering passed onto me?”
- “Would I ruin the relationship with my kids by being overbearing?”
- “Would I communicate with too much mental-emotional stress?”
- And because the percentages suggest I will follow in my parents’ path, “Would I, in the end, ruin my marriage because I wasn’t willing to love my wife as Christ loved the church?
And the big one concerning this blog post: “What does God say about being a father — so that I don’t mess this up!?”
God’s will in scripture speaks incontestably regarding the father’s role, as it does for all things concerning faith and practice. Deuteronomy 6, for example, sets forth the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (6:5). The context of this passage includes 6:2, “…that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.” Following 6:5, we find, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (6:6-7).
Summary: God commands all fathers to raise their children to be obedient to God’s Word which will produce a proper fear of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 furnishes fathers with at least one further application stating “…but bring them [children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (KJV). Considering specifically the term “admonition,” we find its essence is pastoral. Father’s, oversee your children as a pastor shepherds his flock. Johannes Behm of The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament explains that “The man who by admonition and correction seeks to turn others from what is wrong and to lay the good on their hearts is the apostle, the preacher of the Gospel, the one who bears responsibility for the faith and life of the primitive churches.”
Summary: God commands all fathers to gently shepherd their children through their faults and responsibilities in life.
In my effort to understand my parents’ divorce, I discussed it with my Dad many years later. As a microcosm of what became a dysfunctional relationship and contrary to what we just learned, he voiced his displeasure at my apparent “misunderstanding” and that was the end of the matter! Halting dialogue is a common mistake for those that won’t acknowledge an opinion contrary to their own, nor repent of their errant ways. My Dad was a big supporter of my baseball career!, but he was non-existent when it came time to teach me life’s most important truths (i.e. Luke 10:27). In other words, his absence was physical, emotional, and spiritual. An absent father created a painful gap in my life that distorted my understanding of life and application of the principles needed for its challenges. This in no way skirts my responsibility — I take full ownership of my sin!
My parents’ divorce did, however, eliminate the possibility for a Deuteronomy-6-type-father in my life. These passages teach us that without a father to lead me, my pain turned self-destructive because I didn’t have a relationship with the man God created to guide me in God’s Word (cf. Psalm 1; 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19), to help me avoid disastrous choices (e.g. Exodus 31:1-4; Jonah 1:1-3), and to abstain from what unfortunately became habitual for me — the deeds of the flesh (cf. Galatians 5:19-21).
*Father’s, pastor your children and cultivate an obedience to the Word because it produces a proper fear of the Lord and establishes an environment for you to gently shepherd them through their faults and responsibilities in life.