y day begins when the nerve wrenching sounds of my alarm tell me its time get up, usually around 4:30-4:45 AM. I do not get up this early because I have a farm to tend to, (I would probably be up earlier if I did), nor do I get up this early because I enjoy catching the proverbial worm. I get up this early because like most I have certain things I have to tend to before leaving for work.
In a previous post I wrote about cleaning our spiritual room, (read about that 3 Ways to Clean Our Spiritual Room) which involved intentionally clearing the clutter of our lives and spending time with God. I usually do this in the early morning and then move on to other tasks. I find that this part of the day is the most peaceful and if I am to get anything accomplished it must be during this time because with 4 kids, “peaceful” is almost a miracle. Here I mean quiet and calm, not the peace that surpasses all understanding. Post daily devotion time, and completion of those things that have been taking up what could be considered permanent residence on my “to-do” list, I will eat and shuffle off to work. Most days I am out the door before my wife or any of the little ones wake up.
Occasionally my wife and I will take turns putting our toddler to bed. He is 3 (in 2017), stubborn, high energy, persistent and all those other qualities we so sheepishly see in ourselves. Therefore, bed time can sometimes be a daunting event. Let’s face it, parents with 3-4 kids know what it is like dealing with number 3 or 4, especially if that child is very uh.. er… hardhead…um.. determined. It is sometimes a spectacle of great entertainment. He is running around laughing in his birthday suit because he has decided that strapping on a diaper, hitting the sheets and meeting our demands is undesirable. Meanwhile the day and its troubles have you exhausted to the point of thinking well, “I could tackle him and get this diaper on,” or “maybe he will tire out soon.” Both endeavors are futile but eventually he complies.
My wife says, “can daddy put you to bed?” He starkly replies, “no!” I go in for a hug and an “I love you,” which is met with “I don’t love daddy.” Aghast, my wife and I make eye contact and she sternly rebukes him, “that is not nice, you love daddy.” “No!” He says again, to which my wife inquiries, “why not?” Then I hear it and it breaks my heart, “he is a bad daddy!” We take a few moments to collect ourselves and calmly look at each other. “Why is he a bad daddy?” my wife exclaims. “Because he goes to work all the time!” my 3 year old forces out with a disgruntled look. It is a rare feat when we catch a glimpse of the reality our kids live in. When we do, we should be grateful because it gives us a rare opportunity to reach into their world and make things make sense on their level. So, if you want to know how to be a bad dad..
1. Go To Work All The Time
Of course what he means is that I am at work all day and it seems to him like an unnecessarily long time. 1 Timothy 5:8 Reads: “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Let me preface this by saying, I do not think this is talking strictly about working outside of the home, it is referring to an individual’s responsibility to take care of his/her family. This is generally done through employment but can be done through other means as well. In the context of 1 Timothy the idea is taking care of, or providing for one’s family whether this is a child or children caring for their elderly parents or a father / husband providing and caring for his family.
We are called by God to care for our family. This also means spiritual care and leadership. However, in order to effectively lead we must ensure we are aligned under the headship of Christ. He is who we are to emulate not other Christians, not other men, but Christ. That is not to say there is no benefit from fellowshipping with other Christian men as scripture says in Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. From a toddlers perspective, go to work if you want to be a bad dad.
2. Don’t Give Them What They Want All The Time
This can be difficult for new parents or parents of the “baby;” however, it is important to realize that giving a child everything they want, when they want it leads to a self-centered sense of entitlement. Doing this can raise children who are incapable of providing for themselves, knowing what is expected of them, appreciating blessings the LORD provides and accepting responsibility for their actions. Every time we take a trip to the store he always wants a new toy. Never mind that he already has too many toys in his room at home, he wants a new one.
His most precious and pitiful act of hopeful expectation is “please dad, I just don’t get to have a toy.” To which I reply “Son you have toys at home, you do not need any more.” He respectfully replies, “But dad, I just don’t like those toys.” I happily oblige with, “great, we need to get rid of some stuff anyway.” This leads to an unmatched disgusted look of disbelief. He used to have meltdowns but after repeatedly learning how to embrace delayed gratification he has learned to appreciate what he has. Teaching our children to be thankful for everything and to expect nothing creates an attitude of gratitude unmatched.
3. Lead Family Worship
In our house I try to maintain a family devotion at least 3 times a week. You can read more about what kinds of things you can do in your family by reading a previous post here: Discipling Your Children in the Home. Almost every time when we first started family devotions we were met with a meltdown. “Not again, daddy.” or “ahh… but dad, we just always do Bible study.” After some time, he became excited for family devotion and would run and fetch his Bible. This is one of the most important things we can do as dads. Leading up to chapter 6 we see that Moses is teaching the Israelites God’s law, statutes and commandments and imploring them to follow the LORD. Deuteronomy 6:7 reads, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”
Lest we think we need only teach our sons, the Hebrew word used here means, one born of your bone or family; therefore, all ones children are included in this meaning. If you want to be a bad dad, lead your family in repeated family devotions. This is by no means an exhaustive list of “how to be a bad dad” but from a toddlers perspective it covers the three most prevalent that matter to him most. Remember Christ, truly man and truly God, the perfect Son of the Father gave His life on the cross as a ransom for many. Take refuge in Him, that is put your complete trust and confidence in Him, who He says He is, and what He has done and will do. Remember John 10:10…
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Christ came to give us life, and through the power of the Holy Spirit you too can be a “Bad Dad!”
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I want to speak briefly on family worship and how to make this lost treasure, once again a staple in as many Christian homes as possible. But there are lots of questions surrounding family worship and so many resources it can be difficult to know where to start. Hopefully, this short article will alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with family worship. If you are a parent in this crazy mixed up world then you would have noticed almost immediately two things.
Before we get started let's look to scripture for our basis of authority on this matter. In Genesis we have Abel, (the second son of the first couple to live on Earth) bring his offering to the Lord. Look at the text.
3 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. 4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; 5 but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.
Abel knew what was required of the Lord. God required the best and the first. Abel would have learned that from his parents.
In obedience to the Lord, Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac his son. On the way to the place God would show him, Isaac asked his father, "My father! Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Isaac knew what God required and noticed that something was missing, the lamb. Isaac knew this because Abraham his father taught him. It was a regular event in Abraham's household. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says,
4 “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."
Paul reminds us in the new testament book of Ephesians "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the disciple and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)
God is very clear in scripture that the parents are to be the primary disciple makers of their children. But this can be tough if we do not know where to start or how to implement this practice in our homes. We will address a three step approach to implementing family worship in the home.
Be a Disciple Yourself
I cannot stress how important number one is. You and I cannot impart that which we do not have. A disciple is an active follower of a person / teaching. Therefore, Christians are disciples of Jesus. That is we follow Him and learn through regular interaction with His word, prayer, and obedience. We do this in an attempt to implement what we learn in our own life. This is why you must be a disciple in order to train your children. If you do not have a regularly scheduled time that you spend with the Lord than maintaining family worship once implemented will be difficult. We must spend time with God through interactive prayer, Bible reading, worship, and obedience. If you unfamiliar with how to get this started click the title link How To Grow Closer To God in 30 Minutes of Less.
Do What Works For Your Family
I cannot stress this enough. There is not perfect way to conduct family worship in the home. Aside from opening the Bible or a devotional book, interacting, and engaging your children, there is no specific format. This is one of the most freeing things about family worship. You have the freedom to make it your own. Tailor it to your family's needs and dynamics. For example, we have 4 children ages 16, 13, 11, and 5. The 11 and 5 year old color while we read the Bible or devotion and then engage when we discuss the questions or scripture for that evening. Some children need to keep busy during these times and that is okay. We have found that they tend to pay attention with more aptitude.
Rinse, Recycle, Repeat
Once you have found what works for your family and get into a steady routine, you will notice that your child(ren) may become restless or disengaged. This could be a tell tale sign encouraging change. I would suggest that you rinse off what does not work and recycle what does. Then repeat, repeat, repeat. If you need to go from Bible study to short video based devotionals, do it! If you need to add in a small simple craft or activity to keep little hands busy, do it! The main thing is to continue family worship at whatever cost because in the end, this is of eternal value.
Can I say that you will have struggles, you will experience difficulty and you will get frustrated? But take heart, this is only because it is something new. Think about exercise. No one goes from couch potato channel surfer to a max dead lift of 300, or six-pack abs without hard diligent and consistent effort. Family worship is no different. If you are willing to put in the work, sacrifice the worthless things that consume our time you will find that the practice of family worship pays huge dividends.