When it comes to leading my children, in matters of principle or conviction I must stand my ground. I cannot compromise or “give in” when establishing and enforcing rules for their conduct that are based on God’s principles. My children need to know where the boundaries are. They need to understand that some things are wrong, period; and that some things are required of them, period. They must come to a realization of the life-critical truth that choices have consequences, both here and in eternity. If I fail to implant that truth deeply within their hearts, I have failed them. If I compromise the “rules” to be their “friend”, I may be jeopardizing their eternity.
However, I need to be careful not to become stubbornly obstinate in establishing and enforcing the rules. I remember a life-altering turning point during my days as a young father. One evening, one of my kids came to me to ask if they could do something. I don’t remember if it was Ashley or Justin, nor do I recall the specific nature of the request. I do remember, however, that my immediate answer was “No”. Such was my modus operandi; it was my standard response. “No” is usually a whole lot easier, because it requires no commitment on my part. I don’t have to be bothered with any further discussion or decisions, because “No” simply puts an end to the matter.
As I lay in bed that night, that scene kept playing over and over in my head. I remember asking myself why I had said “No”. There was no good answer. Then it hit me.
I WAS A JERK!
Why in the world did I not value my children enough to at least listen to them with an attentive heart, to at least give them a chance at “Yes”? I realized that such behavior on my part, over time, had the dangerous potential to slowly crush their spirit. How utterly selfish I had been to be so wrapped up in whatever stupid little thing I was doing at the moment – watching TV or reading the newspaper or doing something on my computer – that I had actually made my children less important.
TV was more important than the two precious souls God had entrusted to me? Seriously?
I was overwhelmed with a palpable sense of guilt and shame. I begged God to forgive me for my reckless irresponsibility in the way I had dealt with my children. I prayed for him to soften my heart and open my eyes to see how precious and wonderful they were. I petitioned Him to remind me constantly that my primary responsibility in life was to lead these two precious souls into a loving and saving relationship with their Lord, and that the main thing they needed from me was to simply be a Daddy who loved and cherished them enough to be there and pay attention, and to value them more than I valued the stupid TV or computer.
Something in me changed that night. I certainly did not become the perfect Dad. Far from it. There is a significant measure of stubbornness and “hard-headedness” in me that will always keep me struggling. But I did make a silent promise that night to never again answer “No” to any request from my children without at least hearing them out and giving consideration to their request.
No one said that leadership was going to be easy. If it is my job to provide spiritual leadership in my home, to lead my family in the paths that God has prepared, then it only makes sense that I must know what those paths are. I must make a serious and consistent effort to connect with God through His word so that I will know where and how I am to lead.
And the remarkable thing is, the greatest Father and Leader of all has promised to help me! I don’t have to do it all alone. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He also promised to provide me with wisdom if I will just ask Him (James 1:5).
So, Dads, I challenge you to step up to the plate. Be the leader in your home. A godly wife will appreciate a godly husband taking the lead, and your children will certainly be better for it.