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The Price of Being an Effective Father

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
June 16, 2024 7:00 am

The Price of Being an Effective Father

So What? / Lon Solomon

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You know, even if you don't know much about him, I'm sure you've heard the name General Douglas MacArthur. In World War II, he was a five-star general. He was the commander, the supreme commander of the Allied Forces in the Pacific. He was a winner of the Medal of Honor. After the war, he was in charge of the rebuilding of the nation of Japan.

And finally, he was the commander of all UN forces during the Korean War. Well, one night in 1942, while the entire world was engulfed in war, he came home late, went upstairs and kissed his son, Arthur, good night, who had already fallen asleep. And then he came downstairs and sat at his desk and wrote a prayer for his little boy. I'd like to quote for you part of his prayer, and I quote. He said, Build me a son who will know and honor thee, who will learn from stress and difficulty, to stand up in the storms, but also to have compassion for those who fall. Build me a son, O Lord, whose heart will be clean, whose goals will be high, a son who will master himself before he seeks to master others, a son who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep. Then I, as his father, will dare to whisper, I have not lived in vain. End of quote.

And when I read this, I thought, wow, this is amazing. Here's a guy who was a five-star general, a Medal of Honor winner, the supreme commander of all allied forces in the Pacific. And yet for this man to have not lived in vain meant none of these things. Rather, it meant raising up his child to be a genuine man of God. Now today, this is Father's Day weekend, and so this is what we want to talk about. We want to talk about how to be an effective, godly father.

And I wish you could be a fly on the wall in my office on Thursdays just so you could get a sense, when I meet with people during that day, a sense of the number of people whose biggest struggles in life all stem from having had unavailable, uncaring, and unconnected fathers. And there's a reason why so many dads are like this. It's because being an effective, godly father is one of the most demanding, one of the most stressful, and one of the most exhausting and self-sacrificing things, jobs, in all the universe. And there's a price to pay for being an effective father. And so, as we begin today, please let me say that if you're a father here today with young children, I want to urge you to pay this price now. Remember, the cost of being a godly father is paid up front.

The rewards come later. If you're here today and you're the father of teenagers, I want to urge you to begin paying the price with them now, even if you haven't up to this point. It is never too late to start being the father that you need to be for your teenagers. If you're here today and you're the father of grown children, and you blew it when they were growing up, I want to urge you to go back and humbly ask for their forgiveness, and ask them for another chance, and begin making up to them for the years the locusts have eaten in your relationship. And finally, if you're a single man here today, or a newly married man and you don't have children yet, I want you to listen up so that you know what the price of being a godly dad really is, and you'll be ready to pay it when your moment comes. The title of my message today is The Price of Being an Effective Father, and there are four of them that I want to share with you.

So here we go. Number one, price number one, an effective father cultivates a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ in his own life. Jesus Himself said it, John 15, 5, For without me you can do nothing that is of lasting spiritual value. And without the power of Jesus Christ flowing through our veins, no father is able to deny self the way he must in order to be an effective dad. No father is able to have the courage that he must have in order to be an effective father. No father without the power of Christ flowing through us is able to have the wisdom and the tenacity and the self-control and just the right balance of tenderness and toughness that he needs to have to be an effective father. In other words, friends, when it comes to fathering, every one of us is in over our heads.

And we desperately need God's power in our life. Let me say that if you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way, being a great dad, being an effective father, this is where it starts for you, my friend. It starts with coming into deep personal relationship by trusting Christ as your Savior and then allowing that relationship to generate the power in your life you need to be an effective dad.

Cost number two. Price number two is that an effective father invests large amounts of time in his children. Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development said, and I quote, One of the most important things we have to do is to find ways to reengage fathers in the lives of their children. It is not good enough, he says, to say at the end of life, Now is the time to get close to my adult children and hope to straighten out the problems in their lives.

It cannot be done that way. He says father absent children are the most likely to get into trouble. Children need their fathers not merely as a source of income but as an important element in their development. End of quote.

And in the Washingtonian magazine, Dr. Benjamin Stein said in an article entitled Simple Rules for Dads, he said and I quote, The key to having a happy child is having a dad who is there with him or her consistently day in and day out. Now, in saying this all these experts are doing is agreeing with what God told us in the Bible for thousands of years. Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 6. God says these words which I'm commanding you this day shall be on your heart and you shall teach them diligently to your children.

And when do you do that? Well, the next verse you shall talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. The clear picture here is of a dad who is sitting in his house and walking down the road and lying down and rising up with his children. The picture here is not of a dad who is an occasional visitor into the life of his children, but rather one that is a constant ongoing conspicuous presence in his children's lives. And folks, this demands that we spend large chunks of time, quantity time with our children. You say, well, Belan, what about quality time?

I spend quality time with my children. OK, well, let me answer that by giving you the response of Dr. Ronald Levant, Harvard Medical School psychologist in an article in Time magazine entitled The Myth of Quality Time. Here's what he said, and I quote, he said, quality time is just a way of deluding ourselves into shortchanging our children. Children, Dr. Levant says, need vast amounts of parental time and attention. It is an illusion to think they're going to be on your timetable and that you can say, OK, we got a half an hour.

Let's get on with it. Dr. Levant concludes by saying many of the most important elements in children's lives, namely regular routines, domestic rituals, consistency of life and the sense that their parents know and care about them. These are the things that are what are jettisoned when quality time substitutes for quantity time. End of quote. Now, we all live in Washington and we all know that here in Washington, nobody has a lot of extra time. Which means that if you and I are going to give our children quantity time, if we're going to be at their school plays and their music recitals and on their field trips, if we're going to help them with their homework and shoot hoop with them in the backyard and take them fishing and camping, if we're going to read books to them and play computer games with them and teach them to drive, if we're going to coach their ball teams and be there at dinner with them and be there to pray with them when they go to bed at night, we're going to have to take this time from someplace else, from something else we're doing. You say, Lon, like what? Like playing golf, like tinkering in the shop, like watching television, like reading the newspaper, like gardening or taking care of the lawn or doing your hobby or even church work.

Time's got to come from somewhere, but it needs to come. You know, back when my children were younger, we used to take videos and we had, you know, they were all the old VHS, big old, you know, whatever you call them, cassettes. And so we've got like, I don't know, scores of these things in the drawer and I haven't watched them in years.

But my boys now, my three boys are all growing up and they're all in their 20s and 30s. And so they're wanting to go back now and transfer all of this onto DVD so it doesn't yellow and we don't lose it. So we've been watching tape after tape after tape together.

And wow, it's been great. But while we were watching them, one of the people in the room turned to me and said, Wow, Dad, it seems like back then you did nothing else in life but spend time with us. Well, that was pretty much true. Actually, in the middle 20 years of my life, I had a very simple job description.

My job description was do my ministry at McLean Bible Church and spend time with my children. That's why my golf game stunk. That's why my tennis game stunk. That's why my bowling game stunk. That's why my lawn stunk. That's why my flower beds stunk. That's why the wax job on my car stunk. It all stunk. But I got to tell you something.

It's 62 years old today. Folks, looking back, I treasure every single moment I spent with those boys. I wouldn't trade one millisecond of the time I spent with them to have a better golf game or to have a better tennis game or to have a better wax job on my car or anything else.

I'm glad I did it the way I did it. And this is what fathers do. They spend time with their children. Now, Dr. Christopher Bacon in Time magazine in an article entitled Dear Dad Save Your Sons. He's a psychologist.

Here's what he says. And I quote, he said, I have come to believe that adolescent boys don't need shrinks. They need their fathers.

And with their fathers around, many young women might come to expect more than the myth that a man's chief purpose on earth is to impregnate them and then disappear. But what's become of these fathers, Dr. Bacon asks? Where are they? Well, he said, I can tell you where they're not. They're not at PTA meetings or piano recitals. They're not teaching Sunday school or in the pediatrician's office holding a sick child. So if they're not in these places, he asks, where are they? Well, they're in diners and taverns, drinking and playing pool. They're on golf courses and tennis courts and in bowling alleys and fishing on lakes and rivers. They're working their jobs from early morning to late at night or watching TV or tending to their lawn or tuning up the car. In short, they are everywhere except in the company of their children. Of course, he says, there are fathers who do spend time with their children. Those who quietly help with homework and baths and laundry and grocery shopping. Fathers who read to their children and drive them to ballet lessons and cheer at soccer games. Dr. Bacon says these are the real men of America. And I agree with him.

Do you? These are the real men of America. The ones holding society together. Every one of them, he says, is worth a dozen investment bankers, a boardroom full of corporate executives and all the lawmakers west of the Mississippi. End of quote. And he is so right.

Number three. Price number three is that an effective father confronts his children. God makes it clear in the Bible that a good father must be a confrontational father. Listen to these verses from the Bible. Ephesians six, verse four, the Bible says, fathers, bring your children up in the nurture and in the admonition, the discipline, the correction of the Lord. Hebrews 12, verse nine. Furthermore, the Bible says we had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. First Thessalonians Chapter two, verse 11.

Paul says, you know how we exhorted and encouraged. And admonished each of you just as a father does his children. Would you please notice that in Ephesians Chapter six and in Hebrews Chapter 12 and in First Thessalonians Chapter two, notice how the Bible connects the job of admonishing children and correcting children and disciplining children to fathers. Not mothers, fathers.

And you know the Bible is full of examples of fathers who failed their children not because they didn't love them, but because they weren't willing to pay the price to confront them and correct them. Eli the high priest in the book of First Samuel was this way. And so was Isaac. And so was Jacob. And so was Samuel. And so were Samson's parents. David in this regard was a horrible father. He had a son named Adonijah who if you read in First Kings Chapter one tried to mutiny against his dad David when David was on his deathbed and take the kingdom away from him. And listen to what the Bible says about the way David had raised this boy, Adonijah. First Kings Chapter one, verse six. The Bible says his father David had, what's the next word?

Say it out loud. Never. Look at this, had never crossed Adonijah at any time by asking him, why are you acting the way that you are? You say, well, Lon, maybe Adonijah was just a good boy.

Friends, listen to me. There is no male child that has ever been born in the history of this universe that has not needed his father to say to him at some points, why are you acting the way you're acting? What's wrong with you? And you know, all of these children of all of these fathers we just named, they all turned out to crash and burn.

Why? Because their dads weren't in their lives correcting them. In Time Magazine, in an article entitled Building Up Father, Dr. Gerald Shapiro, a psychologist, says this, and I quote. He says, while I commend the nurturing component of the new father, men need to be more than pale imitations of mothers.

If a man becomes Mr. Mom, he says, then the family has a mother and an assistant mother. This is not what good fathers are all about. And the article goes on to say that a large body of sociological research points to the fact, quoting now, that men parent differently than women in ways that matter enormously and that quoting one of the greatest places where this is true is in the area of confrontational discipline, end of quote. But once again, the problem is correcting our children, the problem is that confronting our children is so stressful and it's so exhausting and it's so time consuming that it's easier for us as dads just to say, oh, just go do whatever you feel like and I don't really care. But a godly dad understands that doing that is letting our child down, failing them at the very point where they need us the most.

It's abandoning them. And so a godly dad is willing to pay the price in stress and in time and in energy to correct and confront his children. And may I add that this ministry of confrontation does not come to an end just because a child turns 18.

It doesn't come to an end just because they turn 21. I'll tell you that some of the dumbest things my boys ever did came after the age of 18, in many cases after the age of 21. And when they did these dumb things and I heard about it, I was on them as their father like a chicken on a June bug. Now if you're not from the south, you don't have a clue what that means. So for you northerners, I'll say I was on them like a hound dog on a T-bone.

You ought to get that one. And you know, it's not always that grown children do dumb things or that they do stupid things. It's just they do things where they don't see what's coming.

They don't have enough wisdom to look ahead and see the consequences that are out there. Listen, as a father, I will always be older than my children. I will always be wiser than my children. And I will always see things coming that my even adult children don't see yet. And for me not to talk to them and tell them and warn them and confront them is for me to abandon my responsibility to my children. Now, you have to be a little more subtle when they're over 21. And you have to be just a little more soft when they're over 21. But friends, I got to tell you, my ministry of confrontation goes on to this day with my boys.

And that's the way it's supposed to be. Number four. And finally, price number four is that an effective father speaks words of blessing and encouragement and affirmation to his children. A godly father never leaves his children wondering how he really feels about them. Yes, it's true. He may confront them when they're wrong.

He does that. But by the same token, a godly father is just as quick to affirm them and encourage them and build them up when they get it right. I love the story in Genesis 24 about Rebecca leaving her home and going hundreds and hundreds of miles away to marry Isaac, the son of Abraham. She lived in a city called Nahor, and you see how far it is from Jerusalem in the area where Isaac and Abraham were living hundreds and hundreds of miles. But when Abraham's servant showed up in her hometown and she became convinced it was God's will for her to marry Isaac, she said, I'm going. Now, her father, Bethuel, realized that because of the distance, he was never going to see his daughter again. And so when she got ready to leave, he got her brothers around him and he, as her father, Genesis 24, 60 says, blessed Rebecca.

Wow. Can you imagine the scene? Here's her father.

She's about to go hundreds of miles away, never going to see him again. And what does he do? He blesses his daughter.

He says, you know what? I want to tell you how proud I am of you, Rebecca. I'm proud of you for the woman that you are. I'm proud of you for the godliness that you have.

I'm proud of you that you're willing to leave home and obey God and go out into who knows what because God's asking you to. He blessed his daughter. Well, friends, this is what godly fathers do, and they do it constantly. In USA Today, there was an extremely interesting article called Dads Give Your Sons a Father's Day Present.

It was written by a gentleman that I don't know, Neil Chetnik, but I want you to hear what Neil said. And I quote, he said, each year as Father's Day approaches, I'm reminded of the most important words my own father ever said to me. My grandfather had died, so my father flew in and we headed to my grandfather's house to begin sorting through the remnants of his life. We kept it up all day and then collapsed into my grandfather's living room chairs, and as the room faded into darkness, I heard a groan.

It took a moment to realize what was happening. I had never before heard my father cry. I knelt by his side, and after a couple of moments, he said, I'm crying not only for my father, but also for me. His death means I'll never hear the words I've always wanted to hear from him, that he was proud of me, proud of the family I'd raised and of the life I've lived. And then my father uttered these words that still resound in my heart. Seventeen years later, Neil said, his father said to him, so that you never have to feel this way.

I want to tell you now how proud I am of you, of the choices you've made, of the life you've created. Neil goes on to say a father's affirmation has a powerful impact on his children, but especially on his sons. Similar words from our mothers simply don't have the same effect. A son will forgive his father for almost anything if the son can hear, in whatever way, at whatever age, his dad's genuine affirmation. And so, in conclusion, Neil says, as this Father's Day, as we fathers accept presents and phone calls from our sons, and I might add, from our daughters, let's give them a gift so many of them desire from us, but will never request. Simple words expressed sincerely. Son, sweetheart, I'm proud of you. End of quote. So let's conclude. Friends, as fathers, God wants us one day to be able to look back on the children that we raise with His help and be able with General Douglas MacArthur to say, by the grace of God, by the mercy of God, I have not lived in vain.

Look at these children. But to do that, we've got to be a special kind of father. We've got to be a father, number one, who cultivates a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ in his own life. Number two, we've got to be a father who invests large amounts of time in his children.

Number three, we've got to be a father who confronts his children when they need it. And conversely, a father who speaks words of blessing and encouragement and affirmation to his children when they deserve it. These are the kind of fathers God wants you and me to be.

We'll never do it without His grace and His help. But friends, this is our goal, by the grace of God, to be these kinds of fathers. And so, to all you men who've chosen the minivan over the sports car, to all you men who've chosen the trip to Kings Dominion over the week in Antigua, to all you men who've chosen Chicken McNuggets over Chicken Cordon Bleu, God bless you men. God bless you men. And Happy Father's Day. And Happy Father's Day to you.

Let's pray. Lord Jesus, you know what it's like to be a father because you are our Heavenly Father. And you know the challenges that we as men face. Lord, as I said, we're in over our head and we desperately need your power in our lives. So give us the resources we need, Father, to be the kind of dads that we want to be and that you want us to be. Give us the courage we need. Because some of us here today need to call some adult children and ask them to forgive us and ask them to give us another chance to be their father, and that's going to take a lot of courage. And some of us here need to go and apologize to our teenagers and ask them if we can have another chance at being the kind of father to them that we want to be.

And that's going to take some courage. And finally, some of us here need to change around a bunch of priorities in our life so that we can be the father to our young children that you want us to be, and that's going to take courage. And so Father, I ask you to give us that courage and to give us clarity of vision, clarity of purpose so that we understand that to be able to say in our 50s and our 60s and our 70s that we have not lived in vain will have nothing to do with how much money we made. It will have nothing to do with how much power we amassed. It will have nothing to do with how much fame we achieved. It will have to do with the children that we raised. So Lord Jesus, help us not misplace that priority and change our lives because we were here today and we sat under the teaching of the eternal Word of God. And we pray these things in Jesus name. What did God's people say? Amen. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-16 08:09:39 / 2024-06-16 08:19:55 / 10

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