Some of us didn’t have an example of a godly Christian father when we were growing up. It may have been trial & error for those of us w/children now out of the nest but for those of you still in the midst of raising your family, let me offer you two suggestions that will help you learn what it means to “nurture your children in the Lord:”
(1) Find a Xian man you respect whom you think did this “fathering” thing fairly well & learn all you can from him.
(2) Study how Jesus cares for His people – & emulate Him because He’s the ultimate example & He perfectly nurtures His children. Heb. 12:6
Finally, let me give you some MENTAL POST-IT NOTES that you can reflect on in the days & years to come:
#1 – You can’t disciple your childrenW/OUT SPENDING TIME W/THEM. There are no shortcuts here. You may not have a lot of time & single parents esp. are time-crunched but take the time you DO HAVE, ask your Father in heaven to bless the time you can give & trust Him to multiply your ministry to your children & spouse.
#2 – You WON’T BE A PERFECT FATHER but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. And when you do fail & sin against your child --- BE A MAN & say these important words, “SON (or DAUGHTER) PLEASE FORGIVE ME.”
ILLUS: I never, ever heard those words from the lips of my parents but I’ve tried not to make that mistake w/my children. If you mess up then quickly confess to him/her that what you said or did was wrong & ask for their forgiveness.
#3 – Understand that your kids are MORE RESILIENT than you think they are. They want to forgive you as much or more than you want to be forgiven. I’ve witnessed that in my own kids. They have a great capacity to love you deeply in spite of your many failings as their father. Look to the Lord for His grace & wisdom, look to His Word for your cues & pursue even your grown children in every way you can w/out making a nuisance of yourself.
#4 – PRAY FOR THEM & WITH THEM!
a. If the kids are all but grown or even gone, pray that the Lord would be gracious & “restore to you & them the years that the locusts have eaten” in those times & opportunities where you failed to be a godly parent or failed to be present --- and we all have those times. Don’t allow Satan to beat you up over those memories because you can’t do anything about the past but you do have the present & the future by God’s grace. Learn from the past but don’t live there – it’s a lousy landlord.
b. Don’t sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. Turn off the TV & play some catch in the backyard. Date your daughters showing them how a young man should respect them & treat them. Play w/them while there’s yet time. Love them well because one day they will be at your funeral. What kind of legacy do you want to leave them? What do you want them to honestly say about you?
Finally, continually look to your heavenly Father for apart from the power of God – we can do nothing. It is by grace we are saved, by grace we are kept secure in Christ and by grace we are able to raise our children in the “nurture (discipline) and admonition (instruction) of the Lord.” We will never be perfect parents – only the Lord our God is that. But we can and must be purposed parents who are prayerfully focused to honor our Savior in our homes and example before our children a father or mother who is a sinner making progress to become more and more like his/her Savior. May the Lord bless you as you “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” trusting that He will be pleased to do a work of saving faith in the lives of your covenant children that they may pass on to their children a godly heritage for God’s glory. It is unto this end that I pray. Amen