“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21 NIV).
The world sometimes seems to be so negative. This negativity has permeated beyond politics and into our media and society. Many of us have worked in high-pressure jobs with negative, sarcastic co-workers. This is a toxic atmosphere and makes us feel miserable.
We do a good job of telling our families that we “don’t want any negative stuff” when we get home. However, I suspect that we do a poor job of controlling our own residual negativity from work. The natural thing for us to do after spending all day getting nagged on at work is to come home and pass it on. If your child gets A’s and B’s at school do you complain that they should have gotten all A’s? If your child goes 5 for 5 in the baseball game, do you complain that they did not hit a home run? A negative father will produce a negative child. Colossians 3:21 warns us, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
In the book Spiritual Fathers by Dan Schaffer, the term “father vacuum” is introduced. Schaffer believes that all men have a father vacuum to some degree. It is the result of wounds left by our fathers. As we become threatened or hurt, we question our value and competence. This vacuum is always trying to fill itself with something. Many of us try to fill it with things that boost our egos and make us feel worthy and valuable. Many of us choose foolishly and fill the void with alcohol, drugs, sex, work, power, money, titles, etc.
Schaffer writes that the father vacuum can only be filled by the affirmation of value or blessing from the “fathers” in our life. Genesis 27 details how Jacob tricked his father, Isaac, to secure the blessing that he intended for Jacob’s older brother, Esau. This is the same Jacob that would later produce 13 children, 10 of whom were founders of tribes of Israel. I am certainly not advocating that you trick your father to secure his blessing, but I do want to convey the importance of the blessing.
So how do you raise confident kids? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures”. Now read the Scripture again and insert your name in place of “love.” Yes, love does all these things, but love also disciplines – out of love.
Our children need a cheerleader that believes in them. They need the confidence that only a parent can give. They need the affirmation that only a father can provide. The father’s affirmation can produce children that are mentally healthy, socially responsible, productive citizens, and loving husbands and fathers. This, my friends, is how we as men can work in tandem with the Holy Spirit to bring about spiritual revival. It all starts at home.
Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for the blessing of children. Remind us, dear God, to bless and affirm them. Amen.
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