Men of God: Are you seeking holiness? Part four

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Are you seeking holiness? Part four

In our previous reflections, we have looked at your role as a spiritual leader both personally and in regards your wife.  Today’s reflection will focus on your role as a spiritual leader of your children or grandchildren.

St. Paul sets the bar when he states: "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).  In another place St. Paul says: Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.” (Col 3:21)

Let us look at this from three different aspects: responsibility, accountability and possibility.

Responsibility: One of your roles is to form your children through discipline. But meaningless rules that have no purpose, which reflect more your anger and negative mood, only confuses your children, rather than help them. These build up anger and resentment as well as a sense of non-worth.  One of the beautiful signs I saw in my brother’s approach to the discipline of his children was his availability and openness afterwards. At first, his children were rebellious and angry at the time of being disciplined. When they settled down, even though still crying, they wanted to know that he still loved them. He would invite them to come into his arms, so that he could show them he loved them, even though he had to correct them. They came to see discipline is a sign of love.

The author of Hebrews teaches us: At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” (Heb 12:11)
The author of Proverbs reminds us: Folly is bound to the heart of a youth, but the rod of discipline will drive it out.” (Prov 22:15)

 How else can you provoked your children to anger? By being an absentee father! Yes, you may be physically around, but are you intentionally present to your children? Do they feel that you are too busy for them and that they are not a priority but a bother? How often do you just “waste” time with your children, doing things they enjoy, showing them that they are important?

Another way, a father can provoke his children to anger that leads to a sense of unworthiness is to be overbearing and demanding more and more from them. This way of fathering brings about a sense that one has to seek your approval in order to be loved.  There is very little daily affirmation that builds self-confidence and self-worth. How often do you truly affirm them, even for little things done well? How often do you love them for who they are and not for what they do?

Sometimes a father can provoke anger and resentment, fear and rejection if the father is abusive: verbally, emotionally or worse, physically. Far lasting scars remain for years as a result of any abuse, which is different from healthy discipline. A mind-set of self-understanding sets in which may be continued in themselves being abusive to others. How does the Heavenly Father treat you? This is how you are to treat your children.

The second part of Paul’s admonition states: “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” This presumes that you are seeking to be spiritual son under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, so that you can be a true spiritual father under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Too often, fathers leave this training to their wives to do. But it is the responsibility of both. It begins by teaching them the importance of prayer in their daily lives. It helps them begin to read the Word of God, in times and ways that are appropriate to their age level. It progresses in teaching them what is right and what is wrong, by your words, but more especially by your life-style. Whether they eventually appropriate these instructions in their lives is not your responsibility. But if you do not give them the adequate foundation, then they will flounder.

Ultimately you are helping them to come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to grow in holiness of life.

Remember one of the questions God will ask you when you go before him in eternity. “Where are your children in relationship to me because of you? Are they closer to me or further away from me because of you?”

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