Well, here we are finishing up our series for dads with my last two gifts for your children. You can read the first 8 in Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. We'd love to see you over on our Facebook page too!
9. Don't Succumb To the Spirit of the AgeAs Jesus prayed for his disciples (and for us!) he stated that they/we are "sent into the world" but are "not of this world". What did he mean? In his letter to the Romans, Paul encourages believers to
not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)For all of us who have said "yes" to Jesus, we have become "new creations," and the old has passed away, and we are living in his abundant new life. We are hidden in Christ, we sit with him in heavenly places and he lives in us. He has given us a new nature, and we can boldly approach the throne of grace. All of this is for today and now, and his joy and peace are ours now.
Still, while we live in this world, we are all very aware of the fact that we are surrounded by subtle and glaring ungodliness. The obvious sin and ungodliness is easier to confront because it is so in-your-face. It is the subtle worldliness that is insidious and creeps into our thoughts and world views. Here are a few "spirits of the age" that we tend to combat in our home:
"It's all about me"--The selfish Me-Monster is an ugly yet prevalent attitude that we all battle in ourselves and in our children. Kindling an unselfish attitude and spirit in your child will engender such maturity in him and set him apart from most. While we want our children to be self-confident, we don't want them to be self-absorbed and self-focused. As parents we must not create a culture founded on the desire to assure our children's pleasure at any cost. Our goal is not that our children are constantly pleased and entertained. If it is, we are forming an unhealthy and ultimately destructive world view for them. If only experiencing pleasurable feelings is okay for our children, the result will be a selfish and self absorbed mindset.
How do you battle the Me-Monster? Here are some ideas: Have them help others--volunteering at church, homeless shelters, neighbors in need, yard work or house cleaning/organizing for someone else.
Find times to work at a family project--help a family in need, use some of your Christmas gift money for others.
Create opportunities where they are having to think of others and give of themselves for other's benefit. Be creative!
"You owe me"--Ungratefulness and an entitlement attitude really get under my skin. If you're like me there are some worldly attitudes that really get your goat, and this is the one that pushes my button. This attitude is rooted in selfishness, so set the thermostat to "Thankfulness" and "Gratitude" in your home. Seed the atmosphere of your family with thanksgiving and gratefulness. Don't be afraid to call this attitude for what it is and snuff it out quickly.
"I'm glad believing in Jesus works for you, but…"--Everything you do and believe is okay, and everything I do and believe is just as fine. This one can be tricky, because we don't want to be heavy handed, controlling or legalistic, but there is an absolute truth that the Scriptures proclaim, and we do want our children to walk into the spiritual inheritance that is theirs. So it means helping them discern that everything, every thought pattern, every value system is not okay. This really comes to the forefront in adolescence and later teen years, especially when they begin exploring the world on their own. Coming home from college after living on their own and seeing how the world lives can be a challenge. The most important thing is to love, love, love. Maintaining your connection with your child while affirming their true identity in Christ in love will bring you through.
I'm sure you can think of many other examples of the spirit of this world subtly or aggressively challenging us in our families. Stand strong, and as always stand, speak and act in love.
10. Give Your Children a Father's BlessingAs their father, your words have enormous power. Use them to give life to your children. Day in and day out we can speak encouragement to them. We can "catch" them doing well, notice it, and speak out our affirmation. Doing this hundreds of times over builds such self confidence and self assurance in them. I'm not talking about overindulgence or "blowing sunshine up their noses", but accurately noticing and affirming their good choices and actions is a powerful tool in a father's tool chest.
Give them a written and spoken blessing. When your child is older, at some meaningful point in their adolescence, take time to formally bless them. Be creative--you might consider having a formal ceremony with family and friends in which you recognize who your child is in the Lord and formally pronounce your father's blessing over their lives. This is a great time for you to ask the Lord for specific scriptures, words and direction for them. Your children have a spiritual inheritance in the Lord, and your written and spoken blessing over their lives helps release this inheritance for them. Take a page from the Old Testament patriarchs; see how they blessed their children to help launch them into their destiny. In our nanosecond digital age, actually putting pen to paper and writing words of blessing and encouragement to your child can be very powerful. So dads, pick up your pens and start blessing your children.
I hope you've found these gifts useful and life giving. As fathers, our plates always seem to be full to overflowing, so I don't want these ideas to be a burden or a source of guilt. Rather, let them be a springboard for you to bring life and freedom to your children and your family.