With Father’s Day approaching, I’m once again reminded of the blessing of being a father and the responsibility that comes along with it. Based on scripture, I believe the greatest responsibility a father has is to “bring [your children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Dad, you must train your kids to obey and follow the Lord.
As I have shared before, God gives His people a seven-step blueprint for how to build such training and instruction into the life of your family, and you can find it in Deuteronomy 6. The foundation is the greatest commandment, known to the people of Israel as the Shema: “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4–5). The verses that follow provide seven practical steps that you can take to teach God’s Word to your children.
- Keep His Word in your heart. You can’t teach what you don’t know, so YOU must learn and retain God’s Word.
“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” Deut. 6:6
- Repeat His Word to your children. You must recite God’s Word. The term here literally means “to sharpen,” and actually conveys the idea of teaching diligently.
“Repeat them to your children.” Deut. 6:7
- Talk about His Word at all times. Throughout your day — whatever you may be doing — you should look for an opportunity to converse with your children about God’s Word. Make this a natural part of life, not just a bookend for your day or your week.
“Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 6:7
- Bind His Word to yourself. You must give personal prominence to God’s Word. You should let it serve as a constant reminder of and memorial to the Lord.
“Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead.”
- Write His Word on your home. Doorposts and gates are visible for all to see. You must visibly display the commitment of your household to God’s Word.
“Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.”
- Explain His Word to your children. Help your children to understand the meaning God’s Word, and help them see why we should obey God’s Word.
“When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household, but he brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that he swore to our fathers.’” Deut. 6:20–23
- Live His Word for your children. It’s not enough to tell them about faith and about God and His Word. You must actually live what you teach for them to see.
“‘The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’” Deut. 6:24–25
This final step might be the most important task for you as a father because if you don’t do this, you risk undermining all of the others. For better or worse, you’re already actively shaping the faith of your children every day by what you say and do… and by what you don’t say and don’t do. The question to ask yourself is “What kind of person am I currently leading them to become?”
Whatever that may be, my encouragement is for you to give them an example of steadfast faith and daily obedience. As you seek to be the man God has created you to be, He will use you to raise your children into the people He also created them to be — which is what Father’s Day is really about anyway.
— Josh Hall