Hebrews 12:9-11 (ESV)

Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Dads, this text is a double edge sword. It tells us what we should expect from a loving heavenly Father, and it tells us what we should expect from ourselves as loving Fathers.

The hard news is sometimes it is your duty to bring pain into your kids’ lives.

Dads, if your two year old daughter is standing in the kitchen saying, “Uh oh, uh oh”, pay her some attention.

trajectoryReality #1: As a parent, the first thing I need to realize is I’m not sovereign over my children’s future, God is.

Reality #2: As a parent, the second thing I need to realize is I can have a major impact on the direction my children’s lives take.

There is tension there, but both ideas are biblical.

And as we watch our kids grow, there is a first thing we as parents need to continually ask ourselves: What direction is my daughter heading?
Or …
Where will my son end up if they keep going this way?

In other words, what is my child’s trajectory?

There are several areas we parents should consider as we reflect on the trajectory question. Here are five of the most important:

1. Is my child heading towards or away from determining what his gifting is?
You children need to learn to use the gifting God has given them, or what they will find fulfilling. Are they heading that direction? Are they moving towards being more able to serve God and others?

2. Is my child becoming more or less godly? More or less worldly?
As your children head towards maturity, they should be heading away from foolish and sinful activities. They should be ashamed of sin and hope to please God. Does it look like they are pointing this way?

3. Is my child moving towards our family or away from it?
Your children should enjoy family time. They should feel a need for family support. They should like being home. Do they? Or is the orbit carrying them further out?

4. Is my child making decisions that will increase or decrease his or her own personal joy and that of others?
There are people in the world who are only living in the now, with no thought to long term happiness. More blessed are those who are not self-destructive, but are building themselves up as they are building others up. Which mode is your child moving towards?

And most importantly
5. Is my child moving closer to or further from God and his salvation?
Our children should know the Gospel. They should love the Gospel. They should be becoming more aware of their sin and the distance it puts between them and God. They should see their need for a Savior more and more. They should be choosing Jesus.

If we are honestly asking these questions about our kids and getting answers we don’t like, we should do two things:
1. Pray, because Reality #1 is true, and
2. Act (Love, Speak, Respond, Listen, Encourage Exhort), because Reality #2 is true.

But … how? How should I intervene? Should I be a wall that stops them or a hand that gently guides them? What if they are too far down the road towards destruction?

You can always go back to action #1: praying for wisdom. God grants that petition. And then seek to understand your child more. Listen to them. Read the Bible. Talk to wise God followers who have gone before you.

And pray some more.

Dads, if anyone is leading your children towards a god that is false, they are leading them away from Yahweh.

Dads, when you’re throwing away dried-out markers, keep some of the tops in preparation for the eventual day that you find a marker with a lost top.

I have regretted not doing this.

330px-caran_d27ache_filzstifte

Dads, say this to yourself: I can have a major impact on the direction my children’s lives take.

This might seem like it’s in contradiction with last week’s tip, but both statements are Biblical.

It’s up to you to work out this tension in your family.

Dads, say this to yourself: I’m not sovereign over my children’s future, God is.

Dads, if there is a reasonable chance that your child will do a task without your reminder or urging (or command or nagging), don’t remind or urge her to do it. It can be very deflating.

“Rats! I was looking forward to impressing him, but now it’s just a job I have to do.”

Dads, ask your kids this question: This thing that you do, is it a sin? In other words, do you think God likes it when you do it?

Dads, it’s your job to not FREAK OUT when a child describes the emotions they are feeling.

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