Seventeen hundred years before Christ, a man named Jacob was.
Jacob‘s home was far from perfect. He played favourites with his sons—the boys reacting with intense sibling rivalry. In the midst of his mistakes, however, Jacob did get some things right as a father.
Just before he died, in Genesis chapter 49, Jacob declared the identity and future of his sons as boldly and clearly as any prophet. Like all prophecy, it starts from the present and in its widest expanse penetrates into the remotest future. It is a fascinating study to learn how his sons, and the descendants of his sons, lived out their destinies. These prophecies over the next generation were the benediction that he declared just before he passed away.
Jacob’s example calls fathers to seek the Lord.
Dads, our relationship with the Lord will set the spiritual thermostat in our homes. I am close to someone that was raised in a Christian home, but he never established a relationship with Christ himself. As a result, all four of his children drifted far from the faith of their grandparents. This is a sober reminder of how my choices affect not only my life but also the generations that follow.
How would you describe your relationship with the Lord? Hot? Lukewarm? Cold?
Jacob’s example calls fathers to study their children.
Jacob watched his sons grow up knowing their unique characteristics. He was aware of Reuben’s adultery and the consequences of his sin. He knew that Simeon and Levi were hot-tempered. He recognized the leadership qualities in Joseph.
In Proverbs 22:6 it reads: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” —NIV
The company president summoned the sales manager for a momentous conference.
“George,” he began, “When you went to work for us, you started at the bottom. Two years later you were traffic manager. Your progress was equally striking in production and you were the youngest plant superintendent in our history. As head of the sales department, your record is no less distinguished. Now I must consider the company’s future. Effective immediately, I am resigning to open the way for a younger man. I am happy to inform you that you are to succeed me as president.”
The sales manager blushed and gulped. “Wow!” he exclaimed, “Thanks, Dad!”
Fathers, it is our job to observe the differences in personality, temperament, interests and gifts in our children so we can affirm God’s work in them. Yes, we need to instil values and character, but beware of trying to make them be just like us.
Can you describe how your children are uniquely different from you and from one another?
Jacob’s example calls fathers to speak the blessing.
A disturbing number of young people are without direction in their lives. They are wondering what to do with their futures. Significantly, this confusion usually stems from a lack of inner confidence over who they are. More often than not, this lack of confidence comes from a father that withheld the blessing from them.
The power of words is underlined in Proverbs 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” –NIV
The Jewish culture has traditionally placed much more importance on a child’s name than we have. A name, or an identity, is very important! Parents need to prayerfully discover their child’s purpose, gifts and identity from the Lord. Then focus our time, energy and money on helping them fulfil God’s plan for them—not our own agendas or plans imposed upon our child.
When I tucked our children into bed years ago, I made a practice of saying to Allison and Braden,
- Jesus loves you
- Mommy loves you
- Braden (or Allison) loves you
- I love you
- You are beautiful (or handsome)
- You are smart
- You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength
Fathers, we speak the blessing over our children not only with our words but also with our actions. Spending time with our children and giving them our full attention should reinforce the words that we utter. Fathers can build or crush the spirits of their children. I invite you to join me in becoming an identity shaper.