Jump Start # 2963
Colossians 3:21 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.”
Our passage remind today reminds us that the Lord is concerned about all of life. That’s a lesson we need to impress upon others. Once you leave the church building, it’s not your time, your life, your choices. You still belong to the Lord. You always belong to the Lord. Everywhere and anywhere, you belong to Jesus.
So, our verse today is not about worship. It’s not about what takes place in the church building. It’s about home. Your family. My family. And, boy, we need help here. The American family is falling apart. No one is at the helm and so many families do not even have “family time,” any more. They eat separately. They watch TV separately. It’s like the house is a mini-apartment complex and everyone, once inside, goes their own way. It shouldn’t be this way. It’s going to be hard to instruct and leave godly examples when there is very little interaction. One cannot place the whole responsibility of learning good behavior upon the church. It just may be that one reason so many young people drift away from the Lord is that they do not witness a life with Christ once Sunday is over.
Our verse is directed toward dads. It’s fathers, not moms. It’s fathers, not grandparents. It’s fathers, not the church. You don’t want this deep responsibility, then don’t be a father. God lays this upon the shoulders of dads. Fathers are shepherds. They have a little flock, their family. And, what they do, is the same as elders in the church. The elders just have a bigger family to take care of. But the image, the principles are the same. Look out for those in your flock. Help them. Get them stronger. Get them closer to the Lord. That’s what shepherds do and that’s what dads do. What a natural step from being a shepherd at home to being a shepherd among God’s people. The only thing that changes is the size of the family and the added help from fellow shepherds.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children. A more familiar reading is, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.” And, there is a reason for that. If that happens, they likely will lose heart. “Losing heart,” is being defeated, discouraged, and wanting to quit. Jesus told the disciples to pray at all times and “Not lose heart.” Provoking your children, will cause them to lose heart. It will discourage them. It may make some strike back. It may make some lose respect and love for you. It may lead some to run away.
Don’t provoke. Don’t exasperate. What does that look like?
First, don’t show favoritism. We know that was done in the Bible. Joseph was the favorite. It caused his brothers to hate him, and not even speak to him. They wanted to kill him, but settled on selling him and deceiving their dad into thinking he was killed by a wild animal. Among the children, there may be one that has similar interests that you do, but don’t play that favorite card. They will know. Dad’s with daughters may have to get out of their comfort zone to connect. Have that little tea party with her when she is little. Coach her soccer team. Go to her choir performances. Don’t have favorites. Love them all. Be fair to all.
Second, don’t belittle your children in front of their friends. Teasing hurts. And if you give it out, you best be able to take it back when it comes your way. There is a time and a place to have serious talks, deal with things that need to be improved upon. Putting them down in public and in front of their friends humiliates your child, embarrasses your child, and makes your child despise you. Few things will lead to losing heart faster than doing this. Instead, compliment your child. Compliment him publically. Let your child know that you are proud of him. There is a time and a place for correction.
Third, showing no interest in your child’s life is another quick way to lead him to lose heart. You may have to watch Frozen for the millionth time, but you do that. You may read the same book every night, but you do so. You work your schedule to be in the stands to watch their games. You let them pick a place to eat after Sunday worship, and, yes, it may be McDonald’s. You invite them to come with you. Now, don’t make the mistake of trying to be their best friend or their buddy. You can’t do that. You are the parent. Buddies have no rules. Buddies never get on each other. You must parent. There are moments when you have to be the bad guy. You have to set the rules. You have to discipline them sometimes. But you do those things and still show incredible interest in their lives.
Fourth, do not compare one child to another. They are not the same. You never liked being compared. It breeds resentment, competiveness and jealousy. Your children will not all get the same grades. Some will make the team and some won’t. Some will be student of the year, honor roll, class president. Others won’t Just as you are different from your siblings, so are your children. Don’t try to mold them into the same sports, musical interests or other things. Let their individual tastes be explored. I’ve heard adult siblings saying, “You were always mom’s favorite.” All those years later, the resentment was still there.
Fifth, don’t say mean and hurtful things to your children. They will carry those words with them the rest of their lives. You are making the first and greatest impression upon their young hearts. So, when you get angry, keep a lid on what you say. Name calling. Insulting. Putting down. Hurtful words. Those have no place coming from you—ever. Your kids will disappoint you. They will make you upset. You will get mad. But you must stay in control. I have heard some of the most cruel things ever said while walking by families in stores. Those tender ears were getting blistered by a parent who had lost all patience. What helps is remembering how God treats you. What helps is to run your words through some filters in your mind. What helps is to get that tea kittle in your mind off the burner before it boils.
Parenting the right way and parenting the godly way isn’t easy. It’s not for the faint of heart. With God’s help, you can do a great job. With God’s help, you can make a lasting difference. Don’t try to parent alone. Invite, include and ask for the Lord’s help. Together, great things can happen.