Working Families - Dad’s Who Disciple

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

I want to start this morning by saying Happy Fathers Day to all of those here this morning who understand the difficulty of being a dad. From the very first moment we gaze into the face of our child we get this overwhelming understanding of tough it is to be the dad. So today is the day that we have set aside to say thanks for all of the sacrifices that our dad’s make for us.

I don’t have a preaching degree, so what little I know about preaching, is what I learned from watching other folks preach. When I started preaching, I followed the pattern that I saw other preachers follow which was to magnify moms on Mother’s Day and to fuss at dads on Father’s Day. It was a very distorted view of how the world actually works. Unfortunately, that’s not just true with preachers, our culture has a distorted view of who and what dad’s are as well. Last week I was walking down a greeting card aisle and noticed a striking contrast to the cards that were available for the moms just less than a month ago. Mom’s get beautiful cards with poems and words of thanks. Dad’s get cards full of jokes about beer, blowing our tops or bodily noises.

Thankfully, there seems to be a dad renaissance happening in our country. According to some of the latest reports, we seem to be going through a “fatherhood awakening”. Research is showing evidence that men are rediscovering what it means to be a father and dads today are more involved than ever before. Here are two rather surprising facts:

In the past 25 years, the number of dads present at their children’s births has risen from 27% to more than 90%.

More than 75% of men say they would trade rapid career advancement for more time with their families.

I want to say upfront how encouraging it is to see men putting forth the commitment required to be a real parent. After all it’s much easier to become a father than it is to actually live up to that role. I know many devoted dads who take the time to play and pray with their kids. We want to celebrate those dads this morning and wrap up our series on working families by looking at Dad’s Who Disciple.

My aim this morning is to both encourage and exhort dads to be about the task of making disciples in their own house. Being a dad is tough and the role models we see in our culture are not very helpful.  In 1952, our role model was Ozzie Nelson, the unflappable father who was able to provide a comfortable living for his family, who raised perfect children, who had a deliriously happy wife, and who never once raised his voice. In the 70’s we had Howard Cunningham and in the 80’s there was Dr. Cliff Huxtable. 

But then something changed. While there was always this image of a bumbling dad like Fred Flintstone, or Dagwood Bumstead, today television’s portrait of a dad has devolved into a man who is outwitted by his children, and has a wife who continually rolls her eyes at his stupidity. He’s a dumb, incompetent, sometimes even selfish oaf. Even so his family loves him, but they often don't respect him. So on one side you've got television perfection, and on the other, you've got parental implosion.

Fortunately, we have somewhere besides the TV to find a role model for fathering. There is a wonderful text in Deuteronomy 6:1-9 where God explains the role of being a dad. (Read  Text)

Every dad has witnessed their children imitating them. Your son’s and daughter’s will mimic your mannerisms, share your wisdom, and express your behaviors. As a dad you are called to make sure that your life is worth imitating. My hope this morning is that I can impress one everyone that has been blessed with sons and daughters the need to be intentional about making disciples in our homes. And there are some things we can take from this text to do that.

The first thing we must do is be intentional about teaching the truth.

In verse 7 we read Impress them on your children. The word impress shares the idea of making a blade, you going over and over and area until the knife is razor sharp. Dad’s we cannot just throw our faith out as an option for our kids. Your job is to take it so seriously that we look for ways to pass along what we are learning and what we are living. We are to talk about God’s Word 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The task of teaching is a never-ending, full-time assignment.

God is pretty specific about whose responsibility it is to pass along a heritage of faith. He says Impress them on your children. It’s not the churches job to teach your children about God, it’s the parents job to share with their children what God had done in their lives. The church is meant to supplement what is done in the home. It’s not an easy job, but if we truly love our children we will introduce them to God and model what it means to walk with Him on a daily basis. It’s only when our children see us putting God first in all things that they will learn to have the same relationship with Christ.

My fear is that to many dad’s are modeling a streaming religion. When I was younger we listened to music off of an old 45 record player, then we moved to cassettes and then to CD’s, and finally to iPods. But my boys don’t use any of those things, they stream their music. They can pick and choose to hear only the songs they want to hear. Very rarely will someone listen to a whole album, instead they just pick and choose different songs and artists. My fear is that too many dad’s have taken that approach to teaching our children they can do the same thing with their relationship with Christ.

Are we really surprised that many teens are forming their religious world views with the same mentality, by picking and choosing among things they like and leaving the hard stuff behind. We live in a culture where personal choice is supreme and what’s right for you is right, period.

Christian Smith of the University of North Carolina surveyed more than 3,000 13-to17-year olds throughout the country and made this observation: “Religion becomes one product among many others existing to satisfy people’s subjectively defined needs, tastes, and wants. Religion has become  filled with spiritual consumers who pick and choose what satisfies them in the religious market. They gravitate to whatever products they find satisfying or fulfilling at the moment.” Smith believes that teens absorb this ‘what works for me’ view of religion from the adults around them, often in their own homes.

The most loving thing you can do for your sons and daughters is to live out your faith. Dad’s we have to do more than come once a week and sit on a pew. We must be involved in the deeper waters of faith. We must live a life of faith, a life that is worth imitating.   

The next step to making disciples of our children is to pray.

There are tons of examples in the Bible of dads who prayed for their kids. In Mark 5, Jarius came to Jesus asking him to heal his daughter. In Mark 9, a man came to Jesus begging him to heal his son of demon possession and if you have two year olds or teenagers, you've already prayed that prayer. Job 1:5 says that it was Job's custom to offer sacrifices for his children in case they had sinned against the Lord. And then there was David's prayer for his son Solomon: Give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided. (1 Chronicles 29:19)

Dad’s we need to be intentional about praying for our kids. Now I understand that for many of us our prayer life is not exciting and moving. We all want to have a prayer life that will cause a mountain to move, but we struggle believing that our prayers will make an impact on our families. So let me give you a little help this morning, something that I believe you should pray for your children on a daily basis.

There are four general areas that we should pray for our children that are taken from Luke 2:52. In this text we see that Jesus increased in wisdom (academic) and in stature (physical), and in favor with God (spiritual) and man (social). It’s not enough to just pray that our kids will be safe, or happy, or do well in school or excel in sports or music or any number of things.

We must pray that they have a balanced life. We need to pray that they will grow like Jesus did. That they will grow strong physically and be in good health. That they will increase in wisdom and knowledge, the academic part of their life. And in favor with God, the spiritual and with man, the social side of his life.

Dads we need to make sure that you talk to God about your kids. In fact, I believe that the more you talk to God about your kids, the easier it is to talk to them about God.

The third step to making disciples of our children is to give them your time.

By giving our kids our time, we are really giving them ourselves. It’s a very godly thing to do. As a matter of fact when the Angel told Mary that she was going to give birth to our Savior he said, He shall be called Immanuel. That name means God with us. And time and time again Jesus assured His disciples, I am with you.

I had an older man tell me that he chose to be a failure at golf so that he could be a success as a father. I love that! Spending time with your kids won't put food on the table. It won't fatten up the college savings account. It won't pay the bills and while those things are important they are not why we are dads. Yes, our kids need an education and nutrition and transportation. But more than any of those things, they need a dad.

And the scary thing is, we have this incredibly narrow window in which to give them the gift of time. When they are young, when they need our time the most, is usually when we are most busy providing for them. Then, when we have more time to give, something happens. They become teenagers. They begin to pull away from us in an effort to establish their own identities and directions. That's a very normal part of growing up. By the time we realize we've been pursuing the wrong goal, it's too late to start investing time in them. They're gone.

The only way we can inspire our children to live a better life is to invest our time in them. We don’t have to be the perfect dad to raise perfect children, we just have to be willing to invest our time in them. 

When Michael Jordan played basketball at the University of North Carolina, his coach was the legendary Dean Smith, one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game. Smith played basketball at the University of Kansas where his team won the national championship in 1952. But Smith was not a great basketball player. In fact, in newspaper articles recapping the season, Dean Smith's name is never mentioned. And yet Michael Jordan attributes much of his success to this average basketball player. Smith didn't have to be a stud on the court to succeed. He just had to be willing to invest his time into the lives of young men. He had to share his knowledge of the game and bring out the best in his players. The sign of a great coach is that he is willing to invest the time to produce players who are better at the sport than he ever was.

The sign of a great dad is a man who is willing invest the time to produce sons and daughters who are willing to stand up and be men and women who love God and love people. 

Finally if you are going to disciple your children you must love them.

More than anything in the world, your kids need to know that you love them. As your children get older they begin to allow their friends, school, and our culture to have a big influence in their lives. But as their parent you still have the ability to make the biggest impact on their lives.

On Monday I was in Atlanta while my friend was having surgery. The surgery took 8 hours, so I had a bit of time to do one of my little unscientific surveys. I asked several folks in the waiting room and around the hospital, If you could hear your mom and your dad tell you one thing, what would you most want them to say to you?

Nine people told me that they wanted to hear a parent say I love you. Six folks wanted to hear a parent say I am proud of you. I had one person essentially combined the two answers and said, The one thing I’d like to hear my parents say is that they’re proud of who I am as a person, and they love me for being that person.

Why do you think that so many people said that the one thing they wanted to hear their parents say was I love you? Everyone of us have the same deep need in life, that is to be loved. So, with that in mind, dads how often are you telling your kids that you love them and are proud of them? You see, it doesn’t matter whether your kid is a new born or if your kid has grandkids, it is vitally important to tell your kids you love them and are proud of them.

Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking because you provide a home, food on the table, clothes, and a car that your kids know that you love them. While it is important that you provide for them, it’s even more important that you show them that you love them. Dad’s we must model patience with our children, we must model kindness, we must teach them how to apologize when we are wrong, and how to stand for the truth even if we have to stand alone. We need to teach them how to rejoice with the truth, and how to walk like Jesus walked.

It’s not just something we say, but they must see us living it in our lives on a daily basis. We have the opportunity to teach our children about love, the way in which we go about it, will leave a mark that will last and become our legacy. Our children need to hear the words, I love you, but even more than the words, they need to see the actions behind the words.

As we close this part of our service, let me share one last thought with you. We can only disciple our children, if we are a disciple ourselves. This morning I want you to be honest about your personal walk with Christ. Are you a fully devoted disciple or are you a casual acquaintance. After all you cannot give what you do not have.

Questions For You To Consider

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “Father”?

Would you describe your dad as a rock, boat, pillow, or something else?

Why did you pick that object to describe your dad?    

How does our culture and media tend to portray dads? How might this influence the way our culture portrays God?

Oftentimes however we view our father is how we also tend to view God the father. What are some common ways people tend to do this?

How has your view of your father affected your view of God?

If you could hear your mom and your dad tell you one thing, what would you most want them to say to you?

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