I will never forget the experiences of having our three children. The life-altering love that washed over me the first time I held the child in my arms: when I held my child close for the first time, I knew that I would never be the same. I was now living for something beyond myself. With everything inside of me, I longed to love, protect, and care for that child with everything I had.
Over the years, though, in the press of life, children can inspire other emotions besides that simple, pure-hearted love we felt at their births.
The Bible’s #1 Warning to Dads
The Bible offers a primary warning about the greatest challenge for most fathers. Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Colossians 3:21 doubles this up, saying, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
Dads, your words to your children are powerful. You can’t take your words back—once they are spoken, they go deep into your kids’ spirits. It is imperative that you are always careful what you say and how you treat your children. Be careful in your discipline of them. The Bible warns against provoking our children and diminishing their spirits.
It is often when we are angry, harsh, or losing our temper that we say things that provoke our children. This causes us, little by little, to lose our influence with our children. And their view of us as their earthly fathers also deeply affects their view of God as their heavenly Father.
What Causes Our Anger?
Oftentimes our emotions pile up throughout the day. I know that as a dad, I can get frustrated or stressed-out by all sorts of things.
- We often take on more work than we can handle, causing us to be irritable and short-fused.
- Reading the news can get us angry or anxious.
- When we are overworked and overstressed, it is easier for us to get angry about silly things.
- When we don’t give ourselves margin in life, we find it easier to be short and rash with our kids.
- We often expect a lot from our kids, and discipline and expectation can sometimes come out in the wrong ways.
This is especially the case during times like these—in a global pandemic when our jobs are disrupted and income is uncertain. Extra pressure results in our finding it more difficult to watch our words and our attitudes toward our children. Many children are now being homeschooled, and many parents are now working from home. This disruption of normal rhythm can be great for some, but very difficult for others. It is important that you are extra careful with how you talk to your children during this time, and any other times like it. Watch your margin and your stress levels and take care of yourself emotionally—then you can take good care of your family.
Dads, Speak Life over Your Children
It’s not so much the big moments of life that matter, but what you do daily that makes the biggest difference. Knowing how powerful your words are to your children, you should make it a priority to speak life into your children every day. Here are some ways to do that:
- If you don’t tell your children often, begin to take the step to tell them you love them and that you are proud of them.
- If you are the kind of dad who showers on praise, don’t stop. Anytime you have a chance, tell your children how special and important they are to you.
- Ask your children questions about their day and learn to listen to them more—hear their hearts.
- If you have spoken to them harshly and said things you regret, almost nothing is as powerful as an apology. This doesn’t excuse you to continue losing your temper, but apologizing is always a good idea.
Dads, know that God has given you the high and holy responsibility of raising your kids, and He has given you a tremendous influence in their lives with your words and attitude. God clearly shows us in His Word what will be our biggest challenge and stumbling block as fathers. So let’s take care to watch for it!
May you have God’s incredible love and heart for your children, may you be their biggest encourager, and may God use you mightily in their lives to speak goodness, encouragement, and life over them!
Note: All Scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version.
Matt Brown is an evangelist, author of Truth Plus Love: The Jesus Way to Influence, host of Think Eternity with Matt Brown, and founder of Think Eternity—a ministry dedicated to amplifying the gospel every day through podcasts, devotionals, videos, live events, and more. Matt and his wife, Michelle, have three children and live near Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can follow Matt at @evangelistmatt and thinke.org.