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MB #041: Child Training & Fatherhood - A Tough Job

mission briefing Nov 27, 2023

Read Time: ~6 min

Being a dad is a big job.

We have a massive responsibility when it comes to our children and if we're not careful we can fall into fear, apathy, or passivity, really easily...or worse, try to parent in our own strength while carrying the baggage from our own past.

I was reading this book recently from a man who birthed a community of believers over 50+ years ago - and the multigenerational fruit from the way they all parented their kids is astounding. I've never seen a group of children more on fire for the Lord, ready and excited to serve others, eager to create with their hands rather than be consumers and be obedient and honoring to their parents.

It has been epic to witness over the last 2 years.

This book I was reading was all about child training. How they parent. And I thought this excerpt was encouraging, convicting, and enlightening all at once and wanted to pass it through to you dads:

"When God set out to revolutionize the world, he did not host a mega rally or crusade, nor did He broadcast His plans on YouTube or Facebook (and that wasn't merely because the technology wasn't available). He called one man out of a culture of fragmentation and death and made him a wanderer in the countryside. Yes, God began the greatest revolution in history by teaching Abraham to be a husband and a father and Sarah to be a wife and a mother. The two of them would bring a child of promise into the world.

Those who find this peculiar fail to see the world as God sees it. He sees more potential in the influence of a well-ordered family than in all the nations, armies, philosophies, and political movements the world has ever known. "In you," He tells Abraham, "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). Nothing we will ever do will equal the eternal weight of the task of raising godly offspring so that the righteous may have posterity on the earth.

The success of the apostle Timothy was tacitly linked to the faithfulness of his mother and grandmother. Moses was able to redeem his people because of the training of his parents. Samson broke the Philistine oppression because of the convictions instilled in him through his parents. Jesus did not descend from the clouds on a white horse but was born to a mom and dad. He was first subject to Joseph and Mary before He launched His Messianic ministry to save the world. The family is God's final stronghold of righteous dominion in a world languishing under sin's complete tyranny.

We're embroiled in a cosmic battle between God and satan.

This conflict will determine which authority will ultimately prevail - God's loving fatherhood or satan's coercion and fear.

They both offer freedom, but one of these offers is cloaked in a dangerous seduction. When satan approached Eve in the garden, he did not say, "I want to hold you in bondage all your lifetime through the fear of death. Won't you take a bite?" He did not introduce himself as the king of terror or the monarch of the children of pride. He merely raised a question-could she really trust authority?

At once, the man and woman began questioning the entire substratum of their relationship with God, entertaining a new path to 'freedom' for the first time. Peter warns of those who "promise freedom while they themselves are slaves to corruption" (2 Pet. 2:19, NASB).

History's most insidious tyrannies have all advanced to prominence under the banner of "freedom." Few believers would dispute that the antichrist will be the paragon of totalitarian deception. Yet, Paul portrays his arrival as a time when all hindrances are removed (2 Thess. 2:7). This entails a paradox-tyranny through release.

Unlike satan's false enticements to freedom, God overtly says, "You must submit. You have a dissonant nature inside and must yield to My dominion of love."

But the authority and rule of God eschew all of coercion's tools. God's self-evident powers of love and truth alone compel us to do what is right.

Satan knows that the kingdom of God will fail or succeed based on fatherhood. For this reason, he seeks to delegitimize it, mocking and defacing its love and truth to disarm it of its only weapons. To illustrate this point, consider the following statistics:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes - 5
    times the national average.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes—32 times the average.
  • 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes.
  • 70% of youths in State-operated institutions come from fatherless homes —9 times the average.
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes—10 times the average.
  • 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes—20 times the average.
  • 71% of all high-school dropouts come from fatherless homes—9 times the average.8

Does this leave any question as to why the devil is doing everything he can to undermine and destroy fatherhood?

The Latin word for "father" is pater, from which we derive the word "pattern." The Hebrew word for "father"-abba—comes from the ancient Semitic abu, which pertains to "decision making." At the heart of the kingdom of God is fatherhood. And at the heart of fatherhood are patterns and decisions. What is so staggering about the above statistics is that they do not even represent the quality of fatherhood. If Just the mere physical presence of any father in the home can make such a remarkable difference, what could be said of those raised with fathers who diligently establish and enforce godly patterns in their homes?

There are essentially two types of fathers: one connects spiritually and emotionally with his child's heart. The second treats his child more like a pet by perceiving and managing only overt behavior, distinct from discerning and addressing attitudes and feelings. These parents lack conviction. While managing a child's behavior is an essential parental role, simply keeping children within a set of external lines will not ultimately stile to guide the child's life. A true father perceives his child's actions as a lens into their attitudes and heart.

Parents who manage and disciple their children solely for behavioral compliance will never sense what Elisha felt as his servant chased after Naaman, disobeying his master. The prophet asked his servant, "Where did you go, Gehazi?" He answered, "Your servant did not go anywhere." Elisha finally asked, "Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you?" (2 Kings 5:25-26).

This type of fatherhood connects with the child on the most profound spiritual level, going far beyond mere surface affection and behavioral compliance. These connections between sons and fathers, especially, are the fundamental building blocks of God's kingdom. But parents who merely manage behavior cultivate manipulation and hypocrisy in their children.

Then these young mask-wearers become all too adept at giving others what is "expected" while preserving a hidden wellspring of sin, resentment, and hatred far beneath their seemingly pious veneer. Those who look on the heart, as God does, refuse to settle for anything less than a broken and submitted will offered up from a place of sincere joy and peace.

Consider the paradox in these two scriptures from the apostle Paul: "Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, [I was! blameless" (Phil. 3:6). Not many pages later, he says: "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief"

(1 Tim. 1:15). He refers to himself as legally "blameless" and yet, at the same time, "the worst of sinners." How are we to make sense of this? Paul is here distinguishing between mere behavioral management and discovering his own evil will as the fountain of all sin, whether visible or hidden.

There is a parenting style that is meticulous about etiquette yet utterly fails to produce godly character. To be clear, manners are essential but not the goal. They are merely a lens through which to assess progress toward the goal— a categorically submitted will. So there is godly precedent for orderliness-saying "yes, sir," "no, ma'am," "please," "thank you," attentiveness, looking the parent in the eye, and so on— but the primary focus must be to perceive the child's attitude and heart. Otherwise, we will raise obsequious, mannerly manipulators who say, "Yes, sir," but whose heart is full of contempt for authority.

Even a dog can learn to stay within the lines, but that has not changed the dog's nature. I can train a dog never to come into my presence without sitting and behaving correctly, but it is only an act. As soon as I look the other way, he digs through the garbage and eats empty meat packages! There is nothing pure and proper about that canine."

-Asahel Adams, Child Training - A Candid Guide To Christian Parenting in the 21st Century

That's it for today, folks. Praying you all have a wonderful week!

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