In many ways the church has drifted from the foundation laid by Jesus and the apostles. The lifestyles that were “a given” in those days have largely been forgotten. These lifestyles were structured in such a way as to transfer biblical beliefs to the next generation. Let’s take a look some of the teaching of one of His disciples, the apostle Paul.
A biblical way to look at your family is to think of it as a mini church. That’s why the family is a proving ground for elders; it’s a church in microcosm. Jonathan Edwards said, “Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief means of grace.” Of course, the purpose of the church and family is to carry out the Great Commission. But, in keeping with our model, let’s think about the elders in the church for just a moment.
The characteristics of elders are described in 1 Timothy 3:2-7. In a word, the elder is to be a godly person. The qualifications given to elders are not a higher standard to which they are held. All Christians should meet those qualifications. Christians are godly people. It’s just that if one is going to be an elder, he must meet these qualifications at a minimum. Fathers (and mothers) should display these same character traits. Elders, Paul insists:
- Must live a life which is above reproach, that is, be blameless, and have a good reputation with nonbelievers (1 Tim. 3:2); They must be faithful to their spouses (1 Tim. 3:2). As parents display before the community and before their families behavior that is becoming of a Christian, they can truly be salt and light to the lost.
- Elders must be temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, gentle, upright, holy, and disciplined, and those who love what is good (1 Tim. 3:2); As parents display the fruit of the spirit to the lost and to their children, the lost will be won and their children will gain from being discipled like Jesus.
- Elders, must not be given to drunkenness, or be violent, overbearing, quick–tempered, quarrelsome, pursuers of dishonest gain, or a lovers of money (1 Tim. 3:3); As parents exhibit godly priorities and character qualities their children will receive a clear idea of what Jesus is all about.
- Elders must manage their own families well, and see that their children obey them with proper respect and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient (1 Tim. 3:4). As parents do these things, along with loving correction, discipline, and training, their children will be respectful and obedient.
The payoff for this kind of family life will be joy and abundant life because this “little church” will operate in the way that Scripture commands. As you begin to see how high the calling is on your life as a parent, and begin to apply biblical principles to your family life, you will begin to taste sweet fruit indeed.
God knew what He was doing when He ordained marriage as the context for raising children. With regard to making disciples, married couples have it pretty easy considering the fact that Jesus tackled the job of making disciples all by Himself. When one of you is worn out, you can ask your spouse to “deal with it” until you have had some time to “recharge your batteries.” When a child is difficult, you can discuss the issue with one another to solve it. Since the Lord has given you different gifts, you can work together to come up with a better solution. And if that was not enough, God even provided the Holy Spirit to help guide us. The “threefold cord” that the Lord has provided for parents is quite a powerful tool!
In many cases dads will be earning a living while moms are caring for infants and young children; when children are little, moms do much of the disciple-making during the course of the day. Dads of course will do their part; the father will set the tone in being the spiritual leader in the home. He will spend time with his wife daily, ensuring that she has the support and encouragement that she needs. He will be in touch with her during the day. He will take the children for fun disciple-making opportunities while mom has some time to be refreshed. Both parents will be speaking of the Lord and teaching biblical principles to their children.
Supporting One Another
As children get older dad will increasingly involve them in his life; he may engage his children in his work. He will be instilling a strong work ethic in his sons; teaching them how to lead, how to love, and how to serve. He will be assuring his daughters of their importance, giftedness, and God-glorifying roles in the Kingdom.
Be sure to always support one another in front of your children. Always have a united front! Otherwise your cute little ones will quickly learn how to divide you and get what they want. Agree with your spouse when you are with your children. If there is an area of disagreement about an issue, wait to discuss it later when you are alone with your spouse. Of course, always make sure that you submit to Scripture first, then to one another.