Jul 10, 2020
Coaching Your Child to Follow Jesus
Fathering Is a Verb
While awaiting a flight from Seattle, Shanna and I witnessed a young mom waiting to fly with her four children, all of which were under eight years old. In a rush to get four children to the airport, she forgot to pack snacks for the flight. We offered a few of the ones we had brought, which opened a door for conversation. She was a single mom whose husband left after the youngest was born.
“He was the one who wanted kids but decided it wasn’t for him and left us,” she said with pain in her eyes.
Fathering children is not a biological act. Practically speaking, the word father is obsolete without action. Functionally, father is not only a noun, but the verb fathering best describes the role of a man with his children. Founder of Iron Sharpens Iron National Men’s Conferences, Brian Doyle, shares that “fathering” is the most requested topic at his conferences.
Forty percent of dads today were themselves born out of wedlock. Half of today’s fathers are ADOC’s themselves, with 50% of them not seeing their dad for a year after their parents’ divorce. It’s no wonder they are clueless and need our help.
We are humbled to lead men to their best version not only as a man but as a husband, father, and churchman. Make sure you pick up the free download from our website today so we can guide you to your best version.
If Jesus Were a Parent
Unlike the fictional book Da Vinci Code, Jesus was never married, never fathered biological children, and never committed sin (Hebrews 4:15). But what if Jesus were a parent?!
We see a hint of The Father parenting Jesus at both the Baptism (Matthew 3:17) and Transfiguration in Matthew 17:5, when he publicly declares that Jesus is loved, belongs to the Father, and is pleasing to Him: “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’”
But what if Jesus were a parent? How would he do it? What hints do we see in Scripture? Hal Perkins makes a bold attempt to answer the question in his book, If Jesus were a Parent: Coaching your Child to follow Jesus.
Our interview with Hal was unlike any we’ve ever had. Having pastored over 50 years, all four of his children are now in full-time ministry, which makes him an excellent authority on parenting.
180 Degree Turn Around
“Because I said so” may work when your children are younger and forced to comply with your command. This changes when the teen years begin and radically changes when children become adults.
Hal writes, “As parents, we have positional authority when the kids are young and we can dictate much of the relationship over our children, but when they become adults things swing 180 degrees, and they determine the relationship. What without the Why leads to rules without relationship.”
Josh McDowell wrote something similar in his book, Right from Wrong when he stated that, “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.”
Being in ministry for most of my adult life I have mastered the sermon delivery. If you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. I wish I had read Hal’s book when my sons were young. It would have helped me avoid the “Don’t’ lecture me failure” I experienced by over lecturing and under questioning my sons.
Hal’s wisdom is profound when he writes, “Questions are the scalpel of the heart surgeon.” Jesus loved asking questions.
Proverbs 22:6 admonishes parents to, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It doesn’t say lecture them but simply train.
Good trainers ask and answer questions. Great teachers generate great questions. Great coaches create an open environment where no question is a dumb question.
Perkins implores fathers to master the art of question-asking in order to mine out the motivation, intentions, and actions of children. Oh, the question! The brilliant question! Ignore the temptation to lecture (unlike yours truly). Rather, discipline yourself to ask the perfect soul-searching, head-scratching question.
Reveal the Imperfect You
Fathering is more than the reproduction of life. It’s more than two decades worth of lectures. You are not perfect, and you don’t have to be the perfect parent. You just have to be good enough.
The older my sons get the more they see their imperfect sinner of a father, who is doing the best he can to love and father his sons well. I wish I would have opened up more when they were teenagers. Maybe I was too busy lecturing them to share my temptations and struggles. Perkins writes, “Don’t underestimate the power of opening your imperfect heart to your family,” because, “Sooner or later we behave according to what we actually believe.”
Raising children who grow to love Jesus, live free, and serve others takes more than a father figurehead. It takes fathering on purpose. “Disciples,” Hal wrote, “are made in the context of doing life together.”
Boots on the Ground
The next time you’re tempted to pontificate to your children or lecture them on some wrong they’ve committed—stop.
Instead, pray, and choose a heart-searching, soul-revealing question. Then ask it. Let them tell you why.