Fatherhood Wisdom from Colossians

So we love to look at specific verses in the Bible. And there are a couple of verses in the New Testament that directly tell fathers what we’re to do or what we’re not to do. There’s a famous one in Ephesians 6 we talked about before. There’s also a Colossians 3:21. I want to read this to you guys, because I think this is super practical. It says “Fathers do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged.”

And I thought a lot about, okay, what does this really mean to as fathers obey this command. And what this command is saying you guys is that we are supposed to monitor personally the individual discouragement level of each of our children, and make sure we don’t push them past a certain point where they are like, “I can never please him.” You know? And they just start to give up.

And so we have to be connected enough with our kids’ hearts to fulfill this command, to understand when they are feeling discouraged. And I know that there was a time recently where I really violated this command. I was in a situation with one of my kids, I corrected them in a really, really like dramatic way. I thought, “Oh, this will help them snap out of this situation.” But two days later when I was sort of checking on their heart, they were really discouraged. And I was like, “Oh.” I could tell I crossed the line. And again, the line wasn’t necessarily in what I said, it was the way it was received. And the level of harshness, it obviously pushed it beyond what was actually encouraging them to step up and began to really discourage.

And so that’s something we have to monitor. In that case, I had to like, apologize, like really understand where exactly that the line got crossed. Kind of back off of that particular line, and make sure that in my discipline, and my correction, and my encouragement, that I’m not crossing these lines and discouraging my kids.

And a lot of where a lot of dads, I think struggle with this is when dads struggle with winning the battle and losing the war, right? They get in a situation where they’re like, “I’m not getting through. And so I’m going to bring out the big guns.” Whatever that might mean in your family. And so you have to understand that there is a limit where you can’t cross this line where, where your kids are really getting discouraged.

And oftentimes the way that I can tell the difference is a day or two later, you check in with their heart, right? And if it’s really little kids, you need to do a lot sooner than a day or two later. Older kids, you can do it a day or two later. But see how they’re feeling. Is there a distance between you and them? Are they more excited to obey and to follow these instructions? Or are they less excited now because of whatever happened. Did they misinterpret what happened during that correction and became discouraged?

And so one of the things we always have to monitor is the power and influence of our voice in our kids’ lives. And this is what can really drain your voice of influence is if your corrections or your interactions with your kids are creating discouragement. And this doesn’t just happen with discipline. This could happen with little tiny comments, but just five negative comments for every one positive comment, your kid gets bummed out and they stop. They start to tune out your voice and they become discouraged.

And so we have to be monitoring this level for each of our kids, because we don’t want to cross this line. Paul says, “This is a really important line, not to cross as fathers.” But yeah, Jeff, what does that stir up for you?

Yeah, I mean, I agree. I find it fascinating. That’s kind of one of the only children commands in the entire New Testament, you know? I think because it’s so heart-centered. Yeah, like I was telling you, we have little kids, so I think we’re always wrestling through what is that line, because it’s harder to communicate with them when they’re five and three on this level. You have to just ask the Spirit for help, ask the Spirit for his eyes, and be thoughtful and be thinking.

What I think of is just make sure you’re doing the opposite, right? The opposite of discouragement is encouragement. Are you really just speaking life into your kids? Right. And do they know that? I think one thing with our oldest, I’m always saying a lot especially in those moments that could maybe be a discouragement. When I say, “Hey, I expect a lot of you because I believe in you and I know you have what it takes. I know you are gifted. I know you are strong and kind, and I know you’re a gentle kid.”

And so I think that’s kind of like trying to soften those harder moments that can maybe be discouraging with encouragement. And then like you said, just making sure you’re not… we don’t tend to struggle with a ton of our family, but I know some personalities and we have our own frailties, but just like the nitpickiness of like comments. Just be really careful with that. It tends to be a little bit more of a type A parent. Almost like a more perfectionist parent. You don’t realize how much you’re just like nothing’s ever good enough, you know?

I just think be really sensitive to that, because that is a common problem. And we can do that too. All of us do that, but I think just be mindful of that. So I would say the best thing you can do fathers is mitigate against discouragement, by actually making sure you’re encouraging your kids in an active way.

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