I Samuel 2:22 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. 23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. 24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress. 25 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. (Chapter 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. (Chapter 8:1-3) And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
Most of you here have children who have left the nest; some have grandchildren. It’s not hard to find examples in the Bible of those who were good fathers but their children turned out not so good. Eli was the High Priest. He had two sons who took bribes and even committed immoral acts with women at the temple. He tried to tell them. Verse 25 says they didn’t listen to him. We’re told David was a man after God’s own heart, yet all his sons turned out bad. Does the Bible guarantee that children will turn out right? Some use Proverbs 22:6 to say it does. That verse says Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. However, even those who have been trained get out of church. I think this means that when a child is trained but leaves that training he/she will never forget it. They will remember the truth they were taught as a child by godly parents.
A father’s relationship to his family is to be a high priority. There was once a senator with cancer who after consideration of his relationship with his family said “nobody on their deathbed ever said I wish I’d spent more time on the job.” (1) Fathering is important. Children need their dads. Effects of an absent or passive father are shown in studies. The children are more likely to drop out of school, get involved with drugs and immoral acts. Six million children over the age 15 are growing up with no father. Maybe their mother had a one-night stand. Maybe the job or divorce has taken him from the home. Other studies show that in divorce, after two years, many fathers have no contact with their children. Then some fathers are emotionally absent. They are too busy to give time to their children. There was a song in the 70’s called The Cat’s In The Cradle. It speaks of a father who never had time for his son. The son asks several times for his father to do this/that. He always said later. When his son was an adult, he never had time for his father. The father realized his son had grown up just like him. Sometimes if a child grows up like his father, it is good; other times it is not.
(2) Being a father is a learned skill. I don’t like to look at instructions, but when I try to put something together without looking at them I usually wish I had looked at them. Children are not born with a set of instructions. All skills in fathering are learned. An unnamed person said that “anyone can make a child, but it takes a man to make a father.” Psalms 78:72 says So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands. With a heart of integrity it requires a skillful hand to be a good father. A good role model is one who disciplines his child. I didn’t say he beats them. He disciplines out of a heart of love so the child won’t go astray. Our heavenly Father disciplines us out of love. The father is to be the spiritual leader of the home. A woman has the same rights as a man. God didn’t make women inferior to men. God directed the responsibility to the man to be the leader, the head of the home. Leading a home spiritually is the responsibility of the man. A father is to take his children to church, not send them. A father is to love his children and show that love. A father is to love his children’s mother. A father is to provide for his family. A father is to enjoy watching his kids grow up. He watches them play ball. He remembers kids are kids. There is now a generation of kids who grew up without fathers. In turn they don’t know how to be fathers. In First Kings we find a succession of wicked kings because each followed their father’s example.
(3) Fathering has great rewards. Every father knows great pain and heartache. Disappointment, broken bones and acts that cause pain. But at seeing the accomplishments of his children, he sees it was all worth it. There are no gold medals for being a father, but it comes in other ways. One day, in God’s presence a Christian father who raised his children well will hear “well done” for raising them as he should. I will give an account of every message I have preached. I’ve heard some preach as if they were mad. I want to preach out of a heart of love. Dads, you will give account of your role as a dad. God has entrusted your kids to your care. Raise them well. As adults they will choose how they’ll go, but give them good training. If you equip them spiritually, they will be equipped to face the world. Our tomorrows are in the hands of a Father who knows what tomorrow holds. He has brought us this far; he’ll take me on. Don’t be one who only teaches your child how to excel in the world; teach him/her to excel in the Lord. It’s not about dunking a ball or knocking a home run and breaking a record. It’s how life measures up with Jesus Christ. That’s the best you can give his children.