Friday, 18 June 2021

GOOD FATHERS, GOOD KIDS?

 Do good fathers invariably produce good kids?

 Do rebellious, disobedient kids invariably reflect poor upbringing by their fathers?

As Father’s Day approaches, fathers feel honoured that their children take time off to remember and honour them for the role they have played in bringing them up. On the flip side, it is also a opportune moment for fathers to pause and reflect—whether they have played their part well in nurturing their children.

Though formal education hardly prepares men to be good fathers, there are various injunctions in scripture that guide fathers in the arduous task of raising children.  

  • “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
  • “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
  • “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them” (Proverbs 13:24).
  • “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

Apart from guidance, training and instruction, it is important to note the father-and-son relationship is based on the twin pillars of love and discipline.

The passage in Luke 11: 11-13 shows us how much an earthly father, out of love, longs to give good gifts to his children though he himself is evil.

The passage in Hebrews 12:7-8 reminds us that an earthly father is bound to discipline his children because they are his legitimate offspring (by extension, that is how God treats us who are His children).

It’s only natural for Christian fathers to expect that once they have discharged their responsibilities well, according to scriptures, their children will turn out to be God-fearing, obedient and productive adults, ready to take on various roles and responsibilities in society.

As responsible fathers, we tend to think that good fathers will produce good kids. After all, we reason to ourselves, if we follow God’s commandments, how can we ever go wrong?  Is it, therefore, correct to assume that good fathers will invariably produce good kids?

If you live long enough, and have seen enough, you know what this means: “Good parenting does not guarantee good kids because the will of a child is also a major determinant of character and behaviour, apart from nurturing.” 

 

As a father and grandfather, I have seen several real life examples that illustrate the fact that good fathers do not necessarily produce good kids. Conversely, rebellious and disobedient kids do not invariably reflect poor upbringing on the part of their fathers.

We need to revise our simplistic assumption that good parents will surely produce good kids just as bad parents produce bad kids.

"We are more than the quality of our nutrition. We are more than our genetic heritage. We are more than our biochemistry. And certainly, we are more than our parents' influence. God has created us as unique individuals, capable of independent and rational thought that is not attributable to any source. That is what makes the task of parenting so challenging and rewarding. Just when you think you have your kids figured out, you had better brace yourself! Something new is coming your way." - Dr James Dobson.

For the full article by Dr James Dobson: https://bit.ly/2HY3YmE

Good parenting doesn’t guarantee good children. It only assures that our children will have the tremendous advantage of having had a good parent.” -  Mart De Haan

For the full article by Mart De Haan : https://bit.ly/3q5P1Xk

Many years ago, in a parenting workshop conducted by the late Anthony Yeo, a well-known Singaporean counsellor, he said something to this effect: Parenting is like cooking. You can follow the best recipe but the dish might not turn out the way you expect.

 

So those are the views of different experts and my personal viewpoint based on my journey as a father and grandfather. All these observations are agreed on one thing—good fathers do not necessarily produce good kids.

Ironically, I have observed children of church leaders who have turned “bad” (disobedient and rebellious) despite their fathers’ positive influence. Is it because of a lack of love coupled with too much regimentation, rules and enforced discipline on the part of the father? Or is it related to the father’s excessive devotion to church activities with neglect of family life?

In the vast majority of cases, good fathers will produce good kids, especially those fathers who follow the biblical injunctions above. However, we cannot conclude that good fathers will invariably produce good kids in every case.

Every child is a unique individual with the ability to think and make decisions. For God has given everyone a free will (volition) that enables him or her to make moral choices in life—obey or reject God’s laws.

That is why moral responsibility is an individual matter. The ancient prophet Ezekiel reminds us that a good father can produce a child who turns out bad. He also reminds us that a bad father can bring forth a child who turns out good. As such, God is going to hold a person individually accountable for his or her sin (Ezekiel 18:1–28).

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).

So if good fathers do not invariably produce good kids, should fathers assume a passive role in raising children? No. Such a laissez-faire attitude isn’t constructive; in fact, it’s unbiblical.

As believing fathers, we have to play our part in raising children as enjoined in scriptures and then leave the results to God. If a child is strong-willed, difficult and rebellious, we can commit him or her to God in prayer. There is little we can do to change a person, especially if the child is an adult and chooses to remain headstrong and intransigent. Hopefully, with the passage of time, through painful experiences in life, he or she will repent and be restored as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Do good fathers invariably produce good kids? Do rebellious, disobedient kids invariably reflect poor upbringing by their fathers? The answer is ‘No’ to both these questions.

Postscript—an analogy

It is simplistic to presume that, if we play our role well as fathers, our children will definitely turn out wellas obedient, God-fearing and responsible individuals. Such thinking fails to take into account that each child is unique, bears the mark of Adam’s sin and has the ability to make choices on account of his or her God-given free will (volition).

Extrapolating the argument, God the Father reaches out to man with love by sending Jesus to die at the cross for our sins. Christ took the punishment due to us on account of our sins. Yet not every man responds to God’s act of love. Man, being a volitional being, can decide whether to respond to God’s love or reject His offer of forgiveness.

Herein lies an analogy in relationships—one that exists between the father and child and another that exists between God the Father and the believer.  

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Monday, 14 June 2021

DOES OBEDIENCE GRANT BLESSINGS?


Will blessings inevitably follow when believers obey God?

  

By and large, it is safe to say that there are blessings to be had when believers obey God. These blessings include God’s peace, His presence and guidance, prosperity, honour and long life.  

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).

 “The rewards of humility and the fear of the LORD are wealth and honour and life” (Proverbs 22:4).

“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Ephesians 6:2-3).

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14: 21).

If a believer has qualities like a sound mind to make good decisions, integrity, honesty, diligence, a positive attitude of serving others as if he is serving God and going the second mile, he has a high probablity of attaining success, whether as an employee or an entrepreneur running his own business. If he is working under someone, he will able to impress his superior and be singled out for promotion ... the way Joseph rose to a high position just subordinate to Pharaoh even though they do not share the same beliefs.

However, it does not necessarily mean believers will be free from trials and sicknesses, retrenchment and financial problems. Despite the fact we are saved, our souls and spirits are still housed in imperfect bodies. We are still living in a world plagued with strife and turmoil.

We may start a business but unforeseen circumstances, such as a pandemic, may cause it to go belly up.

We may be stricken with Covid-19 and suffer long-term ill health as a result of the disease.

Though we nurture our children the best way we possibly can according to scriptures, if they choose to rebel and turn away from the faith, there is little we can do except pray and commit their souls to God.

So, for believers who choose to obey God, there is no guarantee of success or what we would term a “good life”.

While there are many blessings that come with obedience, both tangible and intangible ones, God does not necessarily guarantee that we will enjoy a life of  prosperity and health ... even for those who obey His commands. 

 

 How then should believers live out their lives?

We, as believers, ought to let the following verses guide our life:

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Our role is to seek God and obey His commandments; blessings ought to be a secondary consideration. We should primarily seek the Giver, not the gift.

God knows what we need. And He will reward us for our faithfulness to Him. He may even bless us in unimaginable ways, more abundantly than what we ask or think  (Ephesians 3:20).

Blessed is the man

    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

    planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

    and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

(Psalm 1:1-3)


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Will blessings inevitably follow when believers obey God?

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