Remember back…when something significant happened and you recall many details. Well, on January 1, 1959, Joanne and I were on our honeymoon in New Orleans. We had just married on December 27. Yes, correct, sixty-one years ago. She and I went to the Sugar Bowl in the Tulane Stadium. That is when there were only four key bowls. Cotton, Sugar, Orange and Rose. Guess who was playing in the Sugar. Clemson and LSU. Billy Cannon was the All-American hero of the game that ended 7-0 LSU.
Fast forward sixty-one years later and in January 2020 the same two teams will be playing for the CFB Championship. What are the odds that the score will be 7-0? Maybe 45-42! Joanne and I will watch this one on television. Two outstanding teams with incredibly talented quarterbacks. Should be a classic.
Dads, hearken back to your childhood. What are the things you remember best? In fact, how old were you when you first remembered anything? I think I was four. Getting my first scooter and falling on the handles right after I had removed the handlebar grips. A deep hole in my forehead and by a miracle and the grace of God, I was rushed to the hospital and survived. Close call! What about you? Good or bad, what were they?
Whatever your experiences were, they will be significantly different in many aspects to those of your children. Times change, and so does technology. Just like the score 61 years ago reflected a different game mentality (defense) compared to today’s game (offense), your kids are facing a very different world from you.
I’ve been told that an adult is simply someone who has forgotten what it was like to be a child. I agree. Dads, the most effective parent you can be starts with truly understanding what is impacting your children, good and bad. To give a one-year old an ipad might not be the best way to start. Your children don’t need to be entertained as much as they need to be discipled. They need you engaged, along with Mom. There is so much to be learned and it best comes from you.
Submission and Endurance
Scripture tells us this. “It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young” (Lam. 3.27). Bill, what does that mean? As the young ox has to be brought under the yoke, so the young person must learn the practical and valuable lessons of submission and endurance. It is good for young people to learn to bear this yoke in youth. One of the problems with this generation is that parents have not imposed the yoke upon their children. Don’t we continually see it publicly? So, what are some of these ‘yokes’?
· Subjection to authority—Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise” (Eph. 6.1)-they need to learn to obey parents, those in authority, the laws of the land and the laws of God.
· Self-denial or self-restraint—Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9.23) “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses” (Lk. 12.15)-young people need to learn self-control, to control their sexual desires, desire for material things, and to control their temper and thoughts.
· Difficulty and toil—”The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3.10b)-a young person who will work will always have a job.
· Living Godly lives—“Flee…youthful lusts” (2 Tim 2.22)-strive to live “soberly, righteously and godly” (Titus 2.12) -in their youth is the time to start abstaining from all forms of evil.
· Personal suffering and affliction—“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Rom. 5.3,4)-in the affliction of youth one learns the limitations of his own power and his need for God. And patience is developed.
· Service to the Lord—Paul said, “…always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (I Cor. 15.58)-youth need to learn early in life to put the kingdom first (Mt. 6.33).
Prepare the child
Children who do not learn to ‘bear the yoke’ in their youth will most likely bring sorrow and shame to their lives in their maturing years. Brad McCoy used this philosophy to raise their sons. “Don’t prepare the path for the child, prepare the child for the path.” I think that sums up what was said above.
Dads, I don’t want you to have to remember back on your fatherhood with regrets, just results. And then you can rejoice in this—“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 Jn. 1.4).