SUMMARY: I think we all aspire to be great fathers. In fact, no one listening today sets out to be a bad father. Yet we know, that in that moment we reflect on how we have done as a father I would assume most of us understand that we have room for improvement in the spiritual leadership of our children. In today’s Resolute Podcast, Vince shares his commitment to being a better father by reading the Bible more.
RESOLUTE STUDY GUIDE: READING THE BIBLE
So guys maybe we are learning together in this series that we all want to be good fathers. I know I do. And let’s also agree, that we don’t want to look back on our time with our kids with regrets about the things we would have done, moments we would have leveraged, or things we would have said while our children were with us. So the only way to really move ahead is to consider what we want our future to look like and define or redefine it.
Just thinking this way could be a major paradigm shift for us as a dad. All of a sudden our eyes are lifted from the tyranny of the urgent, to the future, and then we address our short sightedness and begin to gain a longer view of life. Often a podcast like this helps us to see these issues with more perspective. And I am hoping some of my regrets will stir you, motivate you, and help you to gain a longer view of what it means to be a better father.
For those men listening today who aspire to be fathers, or current fathers who have young children let me say with clarity — listen to Christian men ahead of you who say, “you have a limited amount of time with your kids so gain some perspective from us and invest your time in them wisely.” Let me repeat that don’t just spend you time but rather invest it, while you have time.
And I think this is worth emphasizing, you really only get a few years with your children in a situation where they are with you quite often. Let men explain. I believe the years we have with our kids are very limited. I realized when my oldest turned 16 that her life and time with me drastically changed. In other words, I never saw here. I am serious, you think they still live at home but basically they sleep under your roof. They are now going to school, working, engaged in extra-curricular activities and they are rarely around. This essentially means my face-time went way down. And just so you know I was not prepared for this. Also looking back I felt like at about 12-13 years old the dynamic engagement with my children went through significant change. The way they talked and interacted just changed. And every psychologist listening today understands this. So really this leaves you with only a few impressionable years where you children are a real cognitive and captive audience in your home. And remember my teaching and training of them is not “done” but it just goes through a change that alters how we look at and understand our life with them. Remember we are stewards of their life for a short period of time and how we steward this time matters as they make their way toward being independent from us.
Just simply reverse engineering the future might be a first step for many of us, but we have to slow down enough to consider it. As I have been thinking through this series, one of things that has struck me is – that it seems like life moves so fast at times that reaction is the only possible response. While it does feel this way this is not the only possible response, but for busy parents this does feel like our reality on many days. So let’s slow things down a little by looking at some words from God. Today God is going to give us some encouragement that is timeless for us as fathers. We are dig into our deep heritage with God and look at timeless words that come to bear on our busy life. And keep in mind the reason for reading this words is to discover again how to leverage the time we have with our kids.
So today I am going to be reading from Deuteronomy 6:4-9. I think these are great words for us to hold to as they were a clear command with a promise. I choose this scripture today, because one of my goals this year is to spend more time in the word with my family and this text has punch. It is all about the Word and how God uses his word in our life so we can use it with our children.
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
So let me make a few observations here.
First we have to recall context when jumping into this Old Testament text. So the person communicating this is Moses. He is speaking and instructing Israel and delivering timeless truth that is so applicable to us today. He is giving the people of Israel instruction on how to stay close to God. And since he is functioning as the “parent” of Israel, we as men can glean some timeless truths from him that are critical to the leadership of our own family.
A second crucial observation, is that the whole context of this chapter and the preceding chapters focuses on the Word of God and the call through this to hold to God’s character. The commandment verses 4 and 5 is called the Shema by Jews. The word shema is a Hebrew word and is the first word of this sentence which is translated “hear.” This word is central not only to this chapter but to the whole book. As men who follow of Christ our base competency is to “hear,” and to “hear” in such a way that it infiltrates into all our being. Here Moses suggests as we continue into our heart, soul, and might. Which describes for me “how” or the way he wants us to hear. Not simply with our ears, but with our motives, attitude, and energy. This is a call to maximize the effort to hear. And through this I think Moses wants God’s Word and his divine character to seep into all areas of life. Let’s call hearing mandate one in this text.
This catapults us into a third observation which is the second mandate in this text – teaching. We are called not only to hear but to teach. The connection is important. And notice the amount of time invested in this teaching the Word. This should really capture our attention. Because Moses is not only telling us how to listen but how to teach. He is giving us the mandates with the methodology. So how do we do it? Moses suggests diligently. With diligence in all parts of everyday life. This suggests that Moses wants them to know that this is going to take effort through some specific activity. So here is how to be diligent in our teaching.
- Teaching when sitting around at home
- Teaching when heading to another location
- Teaching as you go to bed
- Teaching when you get up in the morning
So now we have a very simple and clarified understanding of what God wants from us as men in our homes. What is so astounding to me is that Moses makes a very strategic choice with Israel that cannot be missed in this context. For some reason, after all his years leading the people of Israel, he makes a very strategic choice to focus his energy and teaching throughout the book of Deuteronomy. The strategic choice is the head of household. Men this is us. And it is not rocket science. We hear. Then we teach others. And this takes time.
So let me interject a thought here. Because I believe there is a reason why Moses is encouraging this focused effort.
I believe Moses understands that as they enter the this new country that complacency is their greatest enemy. Their greatest enemy will not be the kingdoms that they will fight, but the comfort and complacency that comes from living in a country with limitless resources. Complacency, apathy, or laziness in a material rich society is the silent enemy of God because when we have everything we really believe we need nothing because we believe we can self-provide. Herein lies the beginning of a slow gradual fade away from a God-centered focus. Complacency is the enemy that they will face long after Moses is gone, and he is very concerned about Israel’s future because he knows that God’s people can easily forget if they become complacent in the their relationship with Him.
And don’t forget Moses has seen times of excessive wealth in Egypt as a son to the Pharaoh, and he has seen need in the dessert with the Israelites. Moses’ position at this very moment is to play the role of a caring father of men and help us to see the future. He wants me and you to understand what lies ahead, by sharing key principles for the time we live in.
So guys I cannot think of better words for us as fathers. We are called as men to hear and teach. And we should do this with a sense of urgency. Because we could choose in this world that is so full of resource to simply be complacent. Men we need to be taking control of our time and life that God has given us to steward, and leveraging every moment we have with our children. Hearing and teaching at every opportunity.
So let me ask you two of the most challenging questions that I think I could as you today.
- How often do you read the Bible to your children in your home?
- How often do you talk about the principles of the Word of God in your home?
How convicting are these two questions? And don’t count time spent at church, because the church is not your kids’ parent, you are.
And guess what, this can all change today. Like right now. So here is what I want you to do to break the silence. Send your family a group text with some scripture in it. Call you wife and read Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and share with her how these words convicted you. Gather your family together tonight for a family meeting, and resurrect the Word in your home. Men, it is never too late to redeem your home for Jesus Christ. And all you have to do, is step into the awkward silence, and fill in the gap. Or as I say get off the bench and get into the game.