By Not Known
It was once simple to be a dad. You went to work from 9am to 5pm and then came home. There you found a stay-at-home wife who kept the household running smoothly, looked after the children and was waiting for you with a loving kiss and a delicious meal.
It’s different now. For one thing, the workplace has extended way beyond 9 to 5 into a 10-12 hour slog. The stay-at-home wife is fast disappearing and many of our women have jobs as demanding and responsible as their husband’s and may even earn more. Individual family members snatch meals at home or out and it’s a rare time when the whole family sits down together.
That leaves a question. Who looks after the children? In many of our households children are being cared for by grandparents or paid domestic workers – or are being sent out to childcare centres. Many teenagers are effectively caring for themselves, with the occasional parental check over the mobile phone.
The Bible assumes a very different context to our, but still has much to say to parents about their children. (Use your concordance to track references to ‘father‘, ‘mother‘ and ‘parent‘.) It’s interesting how many of these comments are addressed to fathers. Why is this so? Is it because men are easily distracted from family responsibilities?
Over recent Sunday’s we have seen how Eli the priest failed as a father. His sons were wicked and he failed to restrain them, resulting in judgement. Samuel replaced Eli. Samuel was exemplary at his work as a prophet, priest and ruler over Israel. But what kind of father was he? We are not told how Samuel parented his sons. But we are told what his sons were like: .. his sons did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice (1 Sam 8:3).
We are left to wonder at what happened in these two families. These stories certainly remind us of the difficulty of parenting. There are no guaranteed outcomes. Godly parenting does not automatically produced godly children, for our children are not robots whom we condition.
A bottom line is this: we dads must be around to be involved with our children and to take joint responsibility for them. We must be there to teach them the Bible, pray and play with them and to give them a glimpse of the fatherhood of God. And we must pray for them – that God will do what we cannot do and bring them to himself through Jesus.