PREPARATION…is vital to the success of virtually everything in life. Schools are designed to prepare children for most of their formal education. Coaches are all about preparation of their athletes, physically and mentally—drawing up a game plan to give their team the best chance to win. I have been working my flower beds and pots for weeks to provide a beautiful yard of plants and flowers. The first thing you do is—prepare the soil.
Armies don’t win battles and eventually wars by accident. Every encounter, every strategic move and counter-move is born out of preparation. I spent six years in the Air National Guard with my basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. Let me assure you, our security as a nation would be very shaky if we had to rely on troops with no formal training. I went in as a civilian; twelve weeks later I had been prepared for combat.
Dads, are you preparing your children for life? Or are you simply using a ‘seat of the pants’ mentality? Brad McCoy and his wife had a great philosophy in raising Colt and his brothers. “Don’t prepare the path for the child, prepare the child for the path.” What incredible wisdom! There are several scriptures that address this but one stands out to me. “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).
By not being in their lives and leading them you most likely will provoke them. And if you are there, but a controlling dad, the same thing is likely. You are to Empower, not Control!
Training is not doing everything for them, or making life so easy they never experience responsibility, even failure. They must understand that to try and fail does not mean they are a failure. God says “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psa. 32.8). Isn’t that what earthly dads should do also? Instruct, teach, guide!
Admonition—authoritative counsel or warning. What might this look like? John Hawkins recently spoke at our Fathers Forum. He shared this. “We should be cautious about giving our adult children advice. We present options and lay out the potential benefits or consequences, but then they make their own decision. It teaches responsibility and stretches them. And then we are not responsible for the consequences of that advice.” All good!
Aren’t you really following Proverbs 22.6 by doing the above? “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” May I point out, old does not mean my age—it means the time when they are maturing and start relying on your wisdom and training at their earlier ages. It will differ with each individual.
A few years back, a nurse told me her daddy raised her and her siblings with this philosophy. I’ll try to do it justice. “As a dad, I am responsible for your needs, but you gotta work for your wants.” Do you see the wisdom there? He told them he didn’t want them to leave home and at the very first setback or hurdle, come running back home—or turn to welfare.
It’s okay to let them get in the game and skin their knee. Be there to bandage them up, but don’t take away the joy of being in the game. Wise is the dad who consciously directs the child without preparing their path so they won’t grow up to be a cripple. Is it easy, NO! Is it the right thing to do, YES!
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith” (Jas. 1.5,6a). A recipe for success for all dads! Trust it, remembering God loves your children far more than you ever will.