This classic blunder from Scripture is the man of God who serves God mightily and yet is a poor or even very bad father. Isaac, Jacob, Aaron, Eli, Samuel, David, Solomon (and others) – some of them better parents than others, but all discouraging models when you look at their kids. If you are happy with a max of 50%-66% rate of your children following God, then certainly there are many models to follow, but if you desire more for all of your children then this classic blunder needs to be avoided.
First, it is primarily the father’s fault. The responsibility to bring up and nurture children is given to the father. It is given to the fathers in the OT and Paul reaffirms that responsibility in the NT. Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Problems arise when fathers are not active in their children’s lives. Good Christian families see their kids in situations they would not have imagined because of the lack of interaction by the father. Perhaps it was due to busyness in the ministry, or because of a lack of certainty on what to do. Perhaps it was because their wife knew more and they didn’t want to mess up, but regardless, the Bible places the responsibility on the father. It is the father that must direct the hearts and minds of the children and it is the father that must show love and discipline. It is the father that needs to spend time with his children if he is to bring them up.
Oh the danger of being an absentee father! The ministry isn’t worth it. Eli and Samuel both had wicked children.
1 Samuel 2:12, 22-25 “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord. Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.”
God condemns Eli for placing his sons before God. 1 Samuel 1:29 “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?” 1 Samuel 3:13 “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” It was Eli’s fault. He is to blame. It is sad and as a father it is heartbreaking.
The job isn’t worth it. David and Solomon devoted their lives to the kingdom, and they were great kings. David was promised by God for the Messiah to come from his line; Solomon was known by all he kings of the world, and yet their kids were a mess. David’s children raped, and murdered. They were treasonous and rebels. Solomon’s had no wisdom but was full of pride. The wisest man to ever walk the planet, brought up a fool.
Ministry and jobs are not worth our kids. Don’t let things come before them. They are our responsibility and we will mold them into whatever it is they will become – be it good or bad.
My wife and I talk regularly about how anyone could hurt, or abuse or “offend one of these little ones” as we observe our girls. They are so precious to us. We wouldn’t want to hurt them for anything, and yet people do. But the less obvious harm that is done is ignoring them or leaving them to their own devices. Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” This is as bad an outcome for the child. The Lord pleads the cause of the afflicted, but the spoiled brat who knows no humility God deals with differently. Parents, do not bring shame upon yourself and the judgment of God upon your kids by leaving them alone – by not restraining them, and honoring them more than God. God desires righteousness first!
The Bible is replete with examples and principles to deal with a child’s foolishness and not to let it go. Don’t let it go. Don’t allow them to get away with sin because “They are just so cute” or “They aren’t that bad” or “I just love them too much to spank them.”
Don’t be inactive from their lives because you don’t know what to do. Fathers, make this your priority! Do not let work interfere. Do not let ministry – at church, on the street corner, or knocking on doors. God commands you to do bring them up. The responsibility is yours. Do not be lax in it, or your heart will be heavy and you will be brought shame.