“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him” (Psa 127:3). The father’s role is a gift from God. God has given the life of a child to parents so that they could nurture the child. This is a blessing in itself. Talking about heritage, we often think about properties, stocks, businesses, or things of monetary value. Even those who view children as heritage are mocking themselves that children are a negative equity, because raising children is really expensive. Children, however, are truly a heritage given by God, a precious gift from God to the parents. “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court” (Psa 127:4-5). In the ancient Israeli society, a family’s strength is in the number of children. The more children there are, the more they safeguard the interests of the family. Then they will not be bullied by others. There will also be hands to plow the fields and take care of the lifestock. They ensure that all family members have enough food and clothes. People now do not need to have a lot of children to protect the family’s safety and survivability, but is not the happiness between parents and children a gift from God, a heavenly heritage? This heritage’s value cannot be measured by gold. Since it is a heritage from God, how then should the father as the head of the household manage it? First, taking care of the children is a shared responsibility of both parents. In the past, men need only focus on earning money while women teach and care for the children. This view is not the teaching of the Bible. Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” The Bible clearly says that the father has a responsibility in educating the children. Furthermore, when we teach our children, the important point is to teach them to follow the Bible’s teachings in handling all matters. It is not abusing our positions as fathers to squeeze our children dry to meet our selfish demands. To achieve this, fathers must first learn and live out God’s word. Through leading by example and teaching by precept, guide the child to walk in God’s word. Also, the father must have a compassionate heart that emphathises the children’s weaknesses, encourages them, and not give up on them. Just as our Heavenly Father never gives up on us, but he forgave us and gave us time to grow. Without the legendary martial arts skills, how could the father do his due diligence in all his responsibilities? They need to be busy making money, understand children, teach them, and ensure that big and small matters in the family are properly handled. They also need to familiarise themselves with the Bible to have a good spirituality. Where can we find this perfect father?
It is very obvious, God knows that men on their own are unable to shoulder the enormous responsibility of a father. When God made men, He also made women. This allows men to carry such a responsibility of taking care of the family with the help of women. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’” (Gen 2:18). Hence, men should often listen to their wife’s feedback. He should communicate with his wife on her opinions on raising children, striving to raise children hand in hand to become people who fear the Lord. Besides, as fathers, we often have to reflect on our own relationships with our Heavenly Father. Only through knowing God more, would we be able to perform our roles as fathers better. Our Father is the model for the perfect father. Because we experienced our Father’s unconditional love and repeated forgiveness, we can treat our children with more understanding: because we saw how God sacrificed Himself to save us, we also follow His sacrificial love and exemplify it for our children. Since we have seen God’s justice, we would not tolerate any sin that may grow in our children’s lives, taking the courage and perserverance to help our children lead a victorious life. God humbled himself to enter the world, enlightened us to come to know Him, as fathers we might as well put down our identity as strict fathers and delve into our children’s world to know them and let them know us. I pray that God will help us to be competent fathers and nuture God’s love in the next generation.
Translated by Davina Seet