Wise advice from C.J. Mahaney to a concerned dad who fears that that the way in which he insists his kids obey him in the Lord could lead them to think of God the Father apart from love and grace:
- You have the privilege of introducing them to God the Father and describing the ways in which he is different from you, different from all sinful fathers, and how in any way you are like him it’s only because of grace that you reflect him. See Luke 11:11–13.
- Your honest confession of your sin to your children will protect them from having hard thoughts about you or God.
- Communicating your affection for them—and joy when you are with them—promotes both good and accurate thoughts about God.
- Initiate time with them at both planned and spontaneous times. Don’t leave them with the impression that they get most of your attention when they disobey. Let them know you are so grateful for them and love being with them as much as possible.
- Bless your children with many gifts in many forms! See Luke 11 again. Study your children in order to discern what gifts would genuinely bless them and then purpose to surprise them as often as possible.
- Requiring appropriate obedience does not promote hard thoughts about God. This only happens when we do so in self-righteousness or anger. See point 2 again.
- Frequently preach the gospel to them (and not at them). Reveal to your children just how far God has gone to show his love for sinners like us.
See the whole post for a link to his two-part sermon on Jude where he touches on this theme.