Dads, God calls you to be active and not reactive in raising your kids. Ephesians 6:4 is a familiar verse, maybe almost too familiar. Here is what Paul says:
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
The phrase “bring them up” is not just a throw-away term. It is actually the same wording used earlier when Paul says husbands should “nourish and cherish” their wives just as they do for themselves. This meaning puts an active focus on your involvement. The idea is not just to give instructions and come back later to see how it all works out. No, this emphasis on nourishing means proactive care. It means making sure your training is well received and producing good results. It means care goes into each word and thought and that good fruit results from your efforts!
The challenge you face as a dad is to stay engaged with your great calling. But, as you know, the cares of life and lure of self-concern lead down the deceptive path of disengagement. Disengagement is the opposite of nourishment. Disengagement means you learn about what about what your children are doing, after the fact. So, instead of actually knowing your children, you learn about them. Instead of the personal commitment that it takes to meet your children’s sins in the moment, the disengaged dad hears reports and corrects after the fact.
Eli was a dad who was disengaged and reaped bitter fruit. Eli taught his sons what was right and wrong, but he was not engaged with them. So he asked the question that disengaged dads ask, “Why?”
“Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning?”
Eli shows two tell-tale traits of disengagement. First he is hearing about what his sons are doing instead of being engaged so that he knows first-hand about their struggles. Then he asked the fatal question – why.
Fathers, if you are engaged and nourishing your kids, you will know the why and the what of your children’s issues. Nourishing means hands on parenting. There is no reason to ask why or what. You know first-hand what is happening. This leads to parenting by active on-going nourishment instead of critique. This allows you to be an encourager. This is huge!
Flee the trap of disengagement. Lovingly nourish your children. Engage them with humility and the power of God’s word. Don’t critique from the sidelines! Get in the game and nourish your children to love the beauty of Christ.