Fathers make known to children your faithfulness. Isaiah 38:19
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14 NIV
We’ve been reflecting lately – Diane and I – about our faults and failures as parents as our children were growing up. We did the best we could, but there was so much we did not know, so much we of which we were not aware.
On the one side of the equation is the very real hurt and disappointment our children suffered because of our failures. Whether it was not being involved enough in their school work – urging them forward – pushing them to achieve, or not being their advocate with teachers or coaches when we might have. Nevermind they had their own ability to pursue academic or extracurricular excellence, and no one likes a helicopter parent. We could point to several ways we didn’t do it right.
On the other hand, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. No one does. If we didn’t know we could appeal to the coach, the chemistry or math teacher, or that there were ways to encourage them in their schooling, how could we do these things?
Fact is, however, God’s grace and providential care provided a path forward for each of them. We are very thankful for our sons, their wives and families. They’ve done well, in spite of our failures, and perhaps because we also had some successes. Our greatest success was in regard to their grounding in Jesus Christ. Whatever else we didn’t do, or we did wrong, we did make the teachings, grace, mercy, love, and goodness of God in Jesus Christ a high priority for them to learn and practice. We weren’t perfect in this regard, but we were dedicated, and certainly did not fail to provide for them a strong spiritual foundation. It was the air we breathed in our family.
The responsibility of passing along the faith from generation to generation belongs to the family. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism is written so that the head of the household could teach the truths of Scripture in a simple way to the household. This would presumably include not only the children, but household servants and others in the extended family. Faith starts at home. It is celebrated in worship. It is deepened in Bible study, and made ever more strong in discipleship experiences alongside others. These are the most important experiences we can give our children.
Whatever else you and I may wish for our children and grandchildren, access to Jesus must be highest on the list of our desires and hopes for them. Fathers telling the great deeds of God to their children has a far greater potential impact than the best Sunday School or youth program or the most eloquent preacher. They need to know that they who are weak, humble, and brought to Jesus are heirs to the Kingdom of God.