Biblical Fathering: On Being Flexible
Part two of a four-part series on fatherhood.
My dad was of the old school where a father was to hold himself above outward displays of emotion, especially where the kids were concerned. The father of old was to be above question regarding his decisions as well. Don’t get me wrong; my dad was a Christian man, a good dad who provided for his family and treated everyone well, including the dog that he didn’t particularly like. But he thought his authority was better preserved by exhibiting an air of infallibility and avoiding outward displays of emotion. What I learned from his example is how not to make the same mistake. A biblical dad needs to be flexible by being willing to show how he feels and also willing to admit mistakes when he is wrong.
Fathers are to be flexible.
Paul writes: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
The Greek word Paul uses for “bring up” carries the idea of nourishing a child from the very beginning with tenderness and compassion. But you protest, “mothers are the natural nurturers!” Yes, that is true to some extent, but men are capable of learning the flexibility that the old school fathers of the past seemed to avoid. And our wives can provide the important lessons that enable us to fulfill God’s desire for fathers to be family nurturers, too.
Men are problem-solvers.
Men tend to be problem-solvers. When presented with a problem, they go for what they see as a solution, sometimes before having all the facts. On the other hand, women tend to listen and gather the facts, including how people are feeling and how to repair any hurt or discord. Therefore, it behooves the biblical dad to pause, listen carefully to his children, and let them know first of all that their feelings are important. Then, even though we may think we see a clear solution, we need to remember to be flexible and suggest several options for a solution.
Fathers need to teach their children to obey both parents.
Flexibility is especially important when we consider that our role as biblical fathers is to fit God’s mandate of our family authority into the realities of daily family life. We certainly want to encourage our children, but not at the expense of losing our mandate as the leader of our family. It is also important to teach our children to obey both parents. How many times can you recall when you asked Mom first, instead of Dad? Fathers and mothers both need to have the flexibility that allows them to come to an agreement on rules and limits and clearly define them for the children. Doing so prevents the possibility of the kids playing one parent against the other.
Our efforts to teach our children to obey both parents make it easier for them to obey God later in life when they are faced with making their own decisions. The biblical father who displays flexibility not only nurtures harmony in his family, but also cultivates a prerequisite to be considered for leadership in the church. The opposite is also true: “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:5).
Being flexible in the leadership of his family is an important trait every biblical father should seek to develop as he raises his children to love God and their neighbor in their youth as well as adulthood.
Click here for Part 1: “Biblical Fathering: On Being Fair"
Click here for Part 3: “Biblical Fathering: On Being Firm"
Click here for Part 4: "Biblical Fathering: On Being Forthright
Recommended: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp