"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth." Psalm 127:4
I am so thankful for my arrows. They are doing what "arrows" are created to do - inflicting harm to the enemy. Raising children to be used in the work of the Lord is the call of every Christian parent, but oftentimes we father's feel overwhelmed just doing our best to keep our heads above water. The "daily grind" becomes THE excuse for leaving the task of "nurturing" and "admonishing" our children to our wives. In the end, however, God will judge us men for how we have led our families.
God has given us these gifts and expects us to release them (as arrows) into spiritual battle. What are 5 gifts you should give your children that will help them "fight the good fight of faith?"
1) Fair expectations - I owe my children a heartfelt apology for the times I expected perfection - the times I was more concerned with image than integrity - the times I gave too much thought to the leering looks of critical church people who thought my children made too much noise or didn't look the part. Be fair in your expectations. I think this is what Paul meant when he warned fathers not to exasperate or frustrate their children.
2) Love - start by loving their mom, showing her affection, cherishing her friendship, respecting her feelings, inviting her thoughts. A girl learns how a man should treat a woman by watching her father love her mother. Affirm your children often. They need to hear two statements from you dad - "I love you!" and, "I'm proud of you!" Dr. James Dobson used to say, "Children spell 'love' T-I-M-E.
3) Prayer - Every-single-day! Pray for their heart. Pray for their salvation. Pray for their future mate. Pray they would hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit louder than the call of immature friends. Pray they would grow to love and serve God... that they would devote themselves to be "living sacrifices" to God.
4) Training/experience - Lead them and encourage them to serve the Lord and their fellow man. Give them opportunities to minister in the church. Look for ways to include them in your own ministry. Talk about serving God. Talk about the Word of God and the faithfulness and goodness of God. Teach them the importance of serving their family, showing love to the elderly, sacrificing for those less fortunate, encouraging the down-trodden, visiting the sick.
5) Forgiveness - The story of the Prodigal Son has always struck a chord deep in my soul. Here was a young man who essentially said to his father, "I wish you would hurry up and die so I could have my inheritance!" How that father's heart must have broken to see his son prefer the ways of the world to the warmth of his home. But what brings conviction to me as a father is the fact that this disobedient, undeserving, self-serving young man came to his senses and thought of returning home. Just the fact that he knew he COULD return home says something about the father, don't you think? Even though he had his speech prepared to say he would be a "servant," the very idea that his father would take him in after so much failure and disrespect, speaks volumes of the steadfast love of his dad.
Do my kids know I love them unconditionally? Do they know I will forgive them no matter how far they go or how bad they fail? Do YOUR kids know that? They need to... they REALLY need to.