“And these words… teach them diligently unto thy children” (Deuteronomy 6:6).
This was a mandate to the heads of households concerning God’s words; they were to “teach them diligently unto thy children.” Here we learn that the primary communicators of truth in the family are fathers and mothers. Supplementation is wonderful, but supplementary teaching should never be a replacement for what children learn from their parents. What your children hear at church should be in addition to what they hear in your living room. The Lord never intended churches to function as spiritual surrogates—taking the parent’s place. Instead of providing a spiritual surrogacy service, churches should make parental training a priority. You may choose to send your children to a Christian school, but this does not alleviate your responsibility in guiding and instructing them. Good teaching at church is wonderful and needed. Place your family in the most intense spiritual environments you can find as an addition to your input.
God charges fathers with the responsibility to shepherd the hearts of their children. Every parent should be a youth pastor. If you have more than one child, then you are in charge of your own youth group. The concept of shepherding is reiterated in the New Testament. “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Children are to be trained, educated, and disciplined in godliness. God specifically gave this directive to fathers. Therefore…
- Carefully select suitable heroes. Get books and read aloud about people who made a great contribution. Your family will be inspired by learning about great people.
- Demonstrate respect for your family. Invest the needed time to ask questions about their needs, desires, dreams, fears, and suggestions. Real questions show you care.
- Listen to what they mean. Get beyond what they are saying to what they mean. This will take time. Listen carefully. Listen accurately so you can assess their true needs. They grew up in a very different context than you, so make the effort to comprehend them.
- Listen for pain. Happy voices bring encouragement. Unhappy voices provide information. When your family members agitate you, it’s time to listen and learn. Detecting pain and disappointment is an opportunity to heal. Raised voices and quarrels may bring to the surface some hurt from the past. Enter their world. Do you expect toddlers to assist you with your income tax preparations? No! You get down on the floor and play with their toys. Our children require that we get on their level to minister to them.
- Spend quantity time with your family members. Your presence is needed. Deliberately carve out time to be together. The more you are with them, the more they will grow to feel comfortable with confiding in you. Once they know that you value what’s best for them, they will give you their hearts.
- Go after their hearts. “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26). Solomon made a direct appeal for the heart of his son. Someone will have the hearts of your children, and it needs to be you. Heart unity is the key to meaningful relationships. Heart-to-heart communication becomes possible when you have their hearts.
- List the favorable qualities in your family members. If these qualities were missing, think about the pain that would bring to your spirit. Don’t obsess over their deficiencies. Write down the positive things you sense in them. Whenever someone in our family has a birthday, we have a party. Each person names one character trait that he/she appreciates about the one whose birthday we are celebrating. Then we light the candles and sing Happy Birthday. We affirm that family member.
- Be sensitive to the appropriate time to speak up. Sometimes you need to have a “private conversation” with a child, your child’s spouse, or a grandchild. Once you have developed closeness, this can be done in as an expression of concern rather than seeming to be an attack.
Also, there may be occasions when you need to have a “family meeting.” When you get a burden to share some concern which affects everyone, call a meeting. I have found this is only occasionally needed to this point in my life, but there is still a long way to go! No one knows what the future holds. Learn to share your heart. Talk about the future. Discuss plans and keep them informed of coming changes.
To Think and Pray About…
- “I am a shepherd over my family.” Let that truth sink in deeply!
- In shepherding your family, identify three areas in which you could grow.
- “The Lord is my Shepherd.” What steps can you take to become more like Him?
This chapter was written by Evangelist Harold Vaughan.
This chapter is taken from “The Extraordinary Father”. CLICK HERE to order your copy today!