Since summer break has started, I have noticed numerous families together at church, in the grocery, eating at restaurants, walking down the street, or bicycling. It has been encouraging to see most of these are being led by a father who appears to be quite engaged. Many are leading their children by the hand or giving instructions at the table, whatever. Of course, there are exceptions. We observed one today at lunch.
In Abiding Fathers, we believe there are four words that are critical to healthy families.
Dads! LOVE, LISTEN, LEAD!
Today, I would like to focus on the last word, lead. We are seeing so much passivity within men today. And over the past several years, we are witnessing a lack of engagement, discipline, and leadership. Right after challenging his twelve disciples to repent, Jesus made it clear that they were to follow him so that they could become disciple makers. “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt.4.19). Jesus was obviously the perfect epitome of leadership. We are told that these would-be disciples dropped their nets and immediately followed him. They saw something in him that they had not seen in other so-called leaders.
He taught leadership; he modeled leadership; he encouraged leadership. The ultimate characteristic that I see in Jesus is this. He was a self–giving man of God. Isn’t that what true servant leadership is about? We motivate our children and our employees or others by guiding them and pouring ourselves and truth into them. Leadership is not self-serving. It motivates, empowers; it does not control.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22.6). Training is not passive. It is being present, engaged, and empowering. Children come into this world knowing absolutely nothing. They are like sponges. Everything they see and hear is molding and shaping them into the adult they will become. Dads, what are they seeing in you, what are they hearing from you, and is God’s truth being poured into their hearts and minds by you? That’s true leadership!
Finally, I love the way The Message translation reads. “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master” (Eph. 6.4). I underlined for emphasis. Not being present and not leading them can exasperate them as much as harsh discipline. Passivity will exasperate them. They are looking to you to shape their future.
‘Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. “Honor your father and mother” is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely “so you will live well and have a long life”’ (Eph. 6.1-3). Be the dad…on purpose—that your children will want to honor. Would not all of us want this for our children? Ensure it—LEAD!!