Advice for dads

A visiting preacher at our church had some good advice for dads today – don’t take a back seat in leading your family spiritually.

It’s familiar advice, but still critically important.

He chose the familiar story of Isaac in the Old Testament who was basically a hands-off father.

Isaac had a spectacular beginning in life.  God promised his father Abraham that he would have a son even when Abraham and his wife Sarah were well beyond child-bearing years.

Then, Isaac survived a near-death experience when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son.  But God stepped in at the last minute to prevent the sacrifice after seeing that Abraham’s trust in God was solid.

But when Isaac married Rebekah, he and his wife moved in different directions – he favouring the oldest son Esau and she indulging the youngest son Jacob.

The preacher said that Isaac basically was a passive father, giving up leadership in the home to Rebekah.  He drew parallels with many Christian men today who throw all their energies into their jobs and neglect the home.

In the end, Jacob, under Rebekah’s guidance, deceived his old blind father Isaac and cheated Esau out of his inheritance.

It is hard these days to discuss leadership in the home as it was in Isaac’s time.  We live in a far less authoritarian age.  Husbands and wives are expected to share in family decisions.

But there is no doubt that men should take a leading role in the spiritual growth and nurture of their children.  And the relationship of husbands with God should shape the way they act in any family activity – from changing diapers to looking after things around the house.

When I look back at my own role as a father, I believe I was stronger on leading on the spiritual side than on the practical side.  Both are needed.

The great thing about God is that he is a god of grace and mercy.  I had my weaknesses as a husband and father and so did Isaac.  But God used Isaac anyway and he played a significant part in the story of God.

The key to being a good husband and father is the same as it is for any good man or woman – staying close to God.  He will show us what we need to do and give us the strength to do it.

Even though I am now a grandfather, it is advice I still need to take to heart.

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