He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity Click To Tweet1 Timothy 3:4
Listen up – if you do not raise your kids, the world will.
As Christian men, we must take the reins and lead our children, providing protection over their hearts and minds. From school, friends, social media, sports, music, books, everywhere we turn they are being influenced. While we cannot control all of the areas that they are exposed to, we can control the character and influence of one of the most important role models in their life: ourselves.
This can be a daunting task. The good news is that God’s Word is the ultimate instruction manual for parenting, and with some focused intentionality, you will be equipped to lead them well. Here are some crucial foundational areas to consider as you lead your children. NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list, but it does unpack a few areas that you can lean into right now as you aim to be the leader you are predestined to be. Let’s dig in…
The first area you should consider are your actions. What do I mean by this exactly? Well, most men are great at looking for opportunities to teach their kids (let’s face it, we love to tell others the way they should do things). While that has its time and place, keep this in mind regarding how your children learn – your actions are significantly more impactful than the words you use.
Think about it for a minute – let’s say you tell your children that you value eating right and exercising. You can share with them every day how important it is for them to eat nutritious food and the wonderful benefits of daily exercise. Now, if your children see you eating fast food regularly and never making time to exercise, how well do you think your message will land? At some point, they are going to recognize that Dad’s words don’t align with his actions. This may lead them to discount your opinions and lessen your credibility.
Another example is asking your kids to read the Bible. How serious are they going to take you if they never see you digging into God’s Word yourself? Recognize the power of your actions. As the leader of your family, all eyes are on you and they are paying attention to how you act. Use this influential power to help your children develop strong spiritual habits by practicing what you preach on a daily basis.
Now let’s shift our attention to the language that you model and tolerate as the spiritual leader of the family. Language is not just referring to minimizing the use of foul words. As a man of God, you should eliminate those from your vocabulary period. Make sure that the tone of your voice, the way you speak to your wife, and the way you speak about others is a reflection of Jesus. Many men lose sight of the fact that they spoke differently to their wives when they were dating. After they get married, they stop pursuing their wives, and start speaking in a more authoritative or demeaning manner. This needs to stop.
Whether you are raising children or not, the way you speak to and of your wife is critical. Set a high standard and prepare to see a generational impact. Over time, your son(s) will have a clear picture of how they should speak to/treat women and your daughter(s) will know firsthand how they should expect to be treated from future significant others.
Things to think about:
- What are some positively impactful words from your parents/influential adults that have stuck with you over the years?
- What are some negative words that you’ve held on to from your childhood? What were the circumstances surrounding that memory? What words do you wish were said to make it a positive experience?
- What are some phrases (besides “I love you”) that we can use to empower, encourage, and uplift our children?
There are few things more powerful for your kids than modeling a Godly marriage. Live out Ephesians 5:25 for your kids firsthand. The Bible states that our words can be life-giving or detrimental, that is especially true for our children in their formative years. It’s also been said that the way we speak to our kids becomes their inner voice. Let’s strive to harness the powerful strength of our words and build our children’s self-esteem. Come up with creative ways to express your love to them and instill confidence to their core. A simple “I’m so proud to be your Dad” or “I love how hard of a worker you are” goes a long way.
Now for the content we allow. This is where it can get tricky, and you’ll likely have unpopular opinions and not win gold stars from your kids . Remember this – you are their Dad, not their friend. Yes, being both at times is awesome, but your primary responsibility is to be their father. Revaluate the TV shows, music, and content they consume on the internet and smartphones.
Consider their accessibility to this content. Are there barriers in place that protect them from certain sites/apps? This is going to take extra effort, but ultimately it will pay off. I like Ronald Regan’s line of, “Trust but verify”. Darkness has a way of sneaking into wholesome “family” content, so keep your radar up at all times.
When you recognize content that is out of sync with your core values, ask yourself: Should I ban this from my house or use it as a teaching opportunity? Recently, there have been several Disney shows that we had to stop allowing in our home as the content did not align with our values. You need to decide for your family what is acceptable, and recognize that everyone may have differing opinions, and that is okay.
Things to think about:
- What are some examples of “kids shows” that you consider negative influences? Why is that?
- What shows or movies are you ambivalent about or consider borderline acceptable? What makes this different?
- What are some “safe” movies that you could watch that would still provide an opportunity to teach your kids about discernment?
The bottom line is to be proactive and strategic in what you allow to be consumed in your home. The way in which you protect your child’s heart and mind may vary between children. Of course we can’t shelter them completely, and a totally legalistic approach isn’t particularly helpful in the long run. So when they do come across a show that is displaying negative values or undertones, use their exposure to it as an opportunity to explore why you don’t condone the show. The valuable skill of discernment is learned over time and needs to be regularly sharpened. Let’s gift our kids with the tool of discernment and thoroughly explain our decisions in regards to content allowance and why we view it as a “good” or “bad” influence.
What comes to mind when you think of the word alliance? It could be your loyalty to military, sports teams, Ford vs. Chevy, you get the point. When I think of the word alliance, I think of my strongest ally, my wife. A man of God knows that treating his wife with respect is not only a command from God’s Word, but it is setting a solid framework of what your children will model. Parents need to always be united in front of their kids. While that sounds elementary, it is a sad reality that this is a fundamental practice that has been lost.
You have a wonderful opportunity to teach your kids the proper family structure the way God designed it. Be intentional. Show your son how to treat women by how you treat your wife. Show your daughter what she should expect from a man by exhibiting those traits day in and day out with your wife. Remember, when you and your wife need to “discuss” things when you fall out of alignment, do it behind closed doors and with respect for one another.
You got this!
So, there you have it – four areas to consider as you lead your family. The encouraging news is that your kids are consciously and subconsciously paying attention to your actions. Take advantage of this by bringing awareness to your actions. Great intentionality and effort will reap great reward. This is a daily walk and The Lion Within Us is here to support. Connect with our Lion’s Den to be part of a community of Christian men that are hungry to be the leaders they are predestined to be.