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“We need to have a vision of the day our [kids] will leave our homes and work backward from that day with a plan to help them gain the knowledge, skills, character, and experiences they need.” - Jon Tyson, “The Intentional Father”
Dads, do you have a plan for how you are going to raise your children to be passionate followers of Jesus? This question has been echoing in my mind as the father of two young children trying to figure out how to navigate the world we find ourselves in today.
Data shows that most dads would actually say “yes” - and this blew. me. away.
67% of dads of daughters & 76% of dads of sons say they have a plan for discipleship for their kids. (Data from “The Intentional Father”)
This is crazy to me. Full honesty moment. Either they are a bunch of liars, or maybe I’ve just been living under a rock and missed that day of class (This could be true, don’t look back at my attendance records in college), or there’s a deeper truth behind this that the raw data doesn’t show.
I believe most fathers WANT to have a plan of discipleship for their kids. But do you actually know what that is?
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” - Frederick Douglass
I know that I want to have a plan, but it does not mean that I actually know what the plan is and that it is even close to the right plan.
So, how do we make a plan “to help them gain the knowledge, skills, character, and experiences they need” for when our kids leave our homes?
I’m not going to pretend like I’ve got this “dad” thing down, but I truly have found this to be hopeful and formational, and I believe it will help you too.
Loving God with passion is something that first has to happen in your own life.
What are you doing right now, in your daily life, to pursue, deepen, and grow your relationship with Jesus? Our kids copy everything we do. We see it constantly in everything our kids are learning. They are these little mirrors of our best and worst selves, and we know it. So why would this not be the same with our faith?
If prayer isn’t important to you and done daily individually and corporately…they won’t see it.If a weekly sabbath and reliance on God for everything you have is skipped…they won’t see it.If you don’t love, serve and forgive and ask for forgiveness from your wife or spouse…they won’t see it.
Starting to get the point?
What are they seeing?
That you spend hours a day looking at your phone.When you make sarcastic/rude comments about a coworker, the tv, or worse, your spouse.That you’re too busy at work to make it home for dinner…constantly.
Sorry to get right at it, but let’s be real right now.
Your main job is not your work. Your main job is raising your children.
And most importantly, raising your children to love God with a passion and love others on purpose - and to start, YOU have to model that.
One of the most well-known passages in the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) is Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and it says this:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
We have to turn towards Scripture constantly for guidance and direction if we are to raise our children to be passionately committed to following Jesus.
This is such a beautiful and all-encompassing command on how to live by loving God with a passion and loving people on purpose. However, Moses is not finished! Check this out:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Without taking a breath, he continues in verses 6-9, saying, now, teach these to your children!
He is not talking to the pastors, the preachers, your kid’s youth pastor…dads (and moms); he is talking to you.
So, as you look to make a plan for your kid’s future - my prayer for you is this:
Model passionate and trusting reliance on God in your homes daily. In the easy, slow moments, and in the crazy, everything is on-fire moments.
Put in a much better way:
“Intentionally teaching our children in the every-day-ness of our lives, on ‘pleasant evenings’ as well as in the midst of stressful circumstances, is the way to open their hearts to Jesus.” - Phil and Diane Comer, “Raising Passionate Jesus Followers”
Remember, the church is always one generation away from closing its doors.
Parents, it is our responsibility, our honor, to pass on our faith to our children so they too can experience the love, grace, and mercy of a God who created them and loves them even more than you do.
Husband to Andrea and father to Hannah and Rachel (#GirlDad). An extrovert who loves all things Bible. Always down for a cup of coffee and a good hang. Communications Director at Sun Valley Community Church.