Published 2 weeks ago

Dads, Your Children Need You

Article by 

Guest Contributor

There is a ubiquitous story told in prison ministry circles that speaks to the state of fatherhood in our day. One year, a group decided to provide cards for inmates on Mother’s Day. The response was overwhelming, as nearly all the inmates showed up to sign and send cards to their mothers. The event was so successful that the group decided to do it again on Father’s Day.

Almost no one participated.

The point of this story? Well, it depends on who you ask. However, at the heart of the discrepancy is fatherlessness, both in terms of the men who are absent from their children’s lives (a major indicator of future incarceration, and a whole host of other maladies), and in terms of the culture’s slow, steady slide into the abyss of radical feminism and anti-masculinity. It’s a two-edged sword; fathers are not there, and the culture argues increasingly that they are not necessary. In the midst of it all are men, both young and old, who are walking into fatherhood amid the confusion and degradation, trying to figure out just what it means.

Fatherhood Expands Your Sphere of Influence

 

Fathers are incredibly influential, both directly and indirectly. Children were created to respond to the influence of a father. A man can have a complete lack of influence in his personal and professional life, but the day he becomes a father, all of that changes. Children neither know nor care how influential Dad is outside the home. As far as they are concerned, he is the most influential man in the world. This is true regardless of a man’s intentions, or even his presence.

I had no idea how much my father’s absence influenced me until I became a father myself. At that moment, and from then on, I began to see how not having my father in my life had shaped me. Even in his absence, his influence was unavoidable. This is important for new fathers to know. As the old saying goes, “much more is ‘caught’ than taught.” In other words, your children won’t just learn the things you teach them intentionally; they will glean much more from the things you have no idea you are teaching. This includes your mannerisms, sense of humor, temperament, and habits, to name a few. Even your presence (or absence) is influential. This truth is echoed in the wisdom of the Proverbs: “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26).

Don’t forget those watching eyes!

Fatherhood Expands Your Dependency

 

The result of knowing this should not be debilitating fear, but humble faith. Fatherhood is a great equalizer. Every father knows he is not equal to the task. There is so much about ourselves that we want our children to ignore and/or avoid, but we know they won’t. Thus, our only hope is God’s grace. We are utterly dependent upon the Lord to maximize the positive influence we have on our children, and minimize the negative. Our prayer is always, “Lord, give them my faith; not my faults.” However, we know that’s not how it works. Our negative influence is real — from the sin nature we pass down, to the sins we model. So, again, our only hope is the cross.

The tendency is to stick our chests out and take credit for the “good” things our children pick up from us, then turn around and cry, “I don’t understand what went wrong!” when they mirror our faults. However, both instances are opportunities to turn to God in humility and worship. The fact is, my children could glean nothing but the “best” I have to offer, and they would still “[sin] and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). What they truly need does not come from me at all. What they truly need is for the God who saved me to redeem them by his grace, and to rescue them from, among other things, my frailty and sin. Hence, the greatest influence I could hope to exert is that which points my children beyond me to the one who saves.

Where Does That Leave the New Dad?

 

Are you a new father who has done everything wrong? Pray that God will be gracious to your child in spite of your sin. Are you a new father who has done everything right? First, pray that God will crush your pride and make you realize that you really haven’t done everything right. Then, pray that God will be gracious to your child in spite of your sin. Then sit back and enjoy the ride! I promise, it will go much faster than you imagine.

Read more


Published 2 weeks ago

What He Must Be . . .
If He Wants to Marry My Daughter
by Voddie Baucham, Jr. (2010)

Picture

 
     
       Is that a catchy title, or what?  My interest was piqued as I received a free copy of this book in the mail to review for Crossway Books.  After all, I have two daughters, and as they are now pre-teens, I’m becoming more and more interested in this subject! 

      What He Must Be…If He Wants to Marry My Daughter is written by Voddie Baucham, Jr., a pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas.  For those who homeschool, he is also a popular nationally-known speaker who often speaks at homeschooling conferences around the United States.  My husband and I were thrilled to be able to hear him speak in June 2008 at our state’s annual homeschooling conference.

(For those of you not interested in homeschooling, this book doesn't address homeschooling at all, nor does it address arranged marriages or keeping your adult children in your household until they are either married or elderly!)  


     Baucham describes the purpose of his book (besides what is so clearly stated in his title) in his introduction:  

1.  I want to lay out a clear, balanced, realistic, biblical picture of what moms and dads should be looking for on behalf of their daughters and seeking to produce in their sons (p. 9).

2.  In addition, I want to provide a road map for men who have a desire to lead their families biblically but simply do not know how.

      For those of you who are wondering, Baucham does NOT encourage parents to pick out a future spouse for their children and then just have their adult children merely "sign on the dotted line."  

      But, he is definitely NOT advocating the current dating philosophy that is being used constantly by single people these days, both in and out of the church.  

He advocates courtship, instead of dating. 

      I love Baucham’s philosophy of courtship because it brings it all to a much higher purpose, which is marriage.  If you’re not familiar with what courtship is, I highly recommend you read his book, whether you are a follower of Jesus Christ or not.  

This quote from page 110 is great:  

      "My eighteen-year-old daughter has never been on a date with a boy (unless you count going places with her father).  She has never had a boyfriend.  She has never held hands with or been kissed by a young man.  That means she has also never stayed up all night crying her eyes out because some boy broke up with her.  She has never had to ask, "How far is too far?"  She has never been on suicide watch because the man she loved was out with another girl.  She has saved her heart – her whole heart – for the man whom she intends to marry.  She is not looking for a young man who has been in the equivalent of two, three, or twelve mini-marriages.  Any young man who is interested in her must understand the importance of guarding his heart and hers."

      Personally, I have always loved the concept of saving your whole heart for the person you will marry some day.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t taught this when I was a teen.  While I only had two short-term boyfriends right after graduating from high school, I didn’t give myself away to them, and I chose to break up with them after about three months of dating, I wish that I hadn’t even chosen to date them.  After all, I knew right from the start that these were not men whom I would want to marry.  So why invest time in a relationship if I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere (or shouldn’t)?

      After ending my college freshman year boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, I spent the next 7 years not dating a single person.  Although I longed to be married, I was determined to not just go out with guys because everyone else was.  I didn’t want to invest time in dating someone I wasn’t planning or hoping to marry.  So, I remained "dateless" but was so busy teaching full time in an elementary school that I barely had time to notice.  (I have to add that at the church I attended, there were only a few single young men, and they either didn’t appeal to me because of character issues, or they were interested in other gals…so the playing field from which to choose was pretty slim!)

      That ended up being a blessing in disguise, although at the time I did wonder if I would remain single forever.  

      Then, I met Elmer through an older, mutual friend.  Our first few dates were chaperoned by an older friend of ours.  Not that we needed that, but the three of us were very close friends, and we just decided to take off the uncomfortable edge of newly dating by asking her to come along with us.  I’m very thankful that we did! 

      Then, right away, I took him to meet my parents.  They observed him closely, asked him lots of questions over a long dinner, and later told me that they approved of me dating him.  While you may think this is terribly old fashioned, I would not have continued this relationship with Elmer had they not had an overall good impression of him.  My parents know me better than anyone, and they knew the type of man I was looking for in a husband.  I was 25 years old, and while this isn’t considered "old maid" in most locations, it was definitely getting "up there" in years in the community where I lived.  

     If my parents had red flags go up in their minds, I wanted to know.  I didn’t want to end up being a statistic.

      In What He Must Be…if He Wants to Marry My Daughter, Baucham doesn’t provide a "checklist" of characteristics for men in a checklist-type of way.  He spends most of the book looking at what the Holy Scriptures say about marriage, courtship, and dating. He does cover five major characteristics of what a man should be like, though, and these are very good.  

      He discusses MULTI-GENERATIONAL VISION, which is having a very long-term perspective on the goals a person has for marriage, in choosing a mate, and in staying married even when the times get tough.  

      Baucham places marriage in the "ministry" category instead of just another relationship we have during our days here on life.  I wholeheartedly agree with this:  marriage is the most challenging relationship we will have in our adults years, with parenting being the second most challenging set of relationships in our lives.  If we view our marriage as a ministry to our spouse, it removes the selfish goals and ambitions that so often conflict with our spouse.

      "A Father’s Role", chapter 3 in this book, reaches to the heart of dads and encourages them to step up to the plate and become involved in their children’s lives, especially when it comes to dating, courtship, and marriage.  

      (from page 49):  "Unfortunately, most of us treat the search for a spouse…[as a person treats his search for a house to buy.]  We prefer to just ride around for a while until something catches our fancy.  Similarly, we raise our children with vague expectations and expect them to somehow muddle through and find an acceptable suitor.  However, without clear parameters, they are destined to make choices based on the popular adage, ‘Just follow your heart.’  The only problem with that is, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ (Jeremiah 17:9).    We must find a better way.  We must commit ourselves to preparing our children to find suitable mates without relying on the pagan, relativistic mythology that dominates our day.  Divorce courts are filled with people who ‘followed their hearts’ and married Mr. or Mrs. Right.  There has to be a better way." 

      Next, Baucham spends a lot of time covering the five major characteristics he wants to see in any suitor coming his daughter’s way:

1.  He must be a follower of Christ (and not just wishy-washy, but instead a full follower of the Lord) 

2.  He must be prepared to lead. 

3.  He must lead like Christ (Ephesians 5). 

4.  He must be committed to children. 

5.  He must practice the 4 P’s:  Protector, Provider, Prophet, Priest. 


If that list scares you to death, Baucham is providing a list of ideals, goals for young men – and older men as well.  

      He realizes that in today’s world, most young men are not going to match up in all of these categories. 

      He admits that the playing field is going to be limited. 

      And, importantly, he addresses what fathers and men in the church should do about this, and how to increase the "marriage-ability" of young men today.

      This is really, really great stuff.  

      Most of this book is spent convincing parents about the need for courtship instead of dating, and explaining the goals we should have for young men.  Elmer and I began talking about courtship vs. dating with our girls a few years ago, because we knew that if we waited until they were in their teens, they may not buy in to this philosophy.  

      If you already strongly believe in courtship, you will still find some very practical explanations of how courtship works and what it looks like.  

      Baucham also echoes the fear that many God-loving parents Elmer and I know share: 

      "I was again struck with fear.  I thought about the thousands of young men in our society who have been raised amidst a culture of weak, godless, unsure, lazy, feminized men.  I thought about the epidemic of fatherlessness and the resulting dearth of truly mature, godly, manly young men.  Not macho men who beat their chests and howl at the moon.  I’m talking about real men.  I’m talking about men who understand their role in the home, in the church, and in the world.  I’m talking about men who haven’t been desensitized by violence or emasculated by overprotective mothers.  To whom will I give my daughter if young men no longer know what the word man means?"

      The last part of this book addresses something that I’ve been uncomfortable with for years:  don’t send a woman to do a man’s job:

      "Our children are becoming serial monogamists who give themselves away over and over again to unworthy candidates who break their hearts, scar their psyches, and often cause them to sin against God.  Something simply has to give."  (pg. 161) 

      The divorce rate both in the church and out of the church is shocking these days.  Why do fathers only have a say when the young couple – who may have been dating for over a year already while away at college – comes to ask his approval for marriage?  Why are fathers and mothers not more deeply involved in this process from the beginning? 

      I am so thankful that I had the insight to introduce Elmer to my parents very early on in our courtship.  I just wish I had introduced them to each other before we even went out together one time.  Then, it would have been "true" courtship!  

      In the last chapter of What He Must Be…if He Wants to Marry My Daughter, Baucham spends quite a bit of time explaining some excellent options of how to work with young men who may "come a’ courtin’" but aren’t really ready for marriage.  He shows fathers how to mentor young men and bring them up to the standard.  In my opinion, any young man who is willing to be mentored by a possible future father-in-law is placing himself high up the ladder to marry that man’s daughter!  

      I’ll finish this review with one other quote that I especially liked in this book.  However, it isn’t a quote from Voddie Baucham.  You’ll recognize the author!

      "I have brought up a daughter with great expense and effort, care and peril, diligence and labor, and for many years I have ventured my entire life, my person and possessions, in the undertaking…And now she is not to be better protected for me than my cow, lost in the woods, which any wolf may devour?  Who would approve of this?  Likewise, is my child to stand there free for all, so that any knave, unknown to me, or perhaps even a former enemy of mine, has the power and the unlimited opportunity secretly to steal her from me and take her away without my knowledge and will?  There certainly is no one who would want to let his money and goods stand open to the public in this way, so that they may be taken by the first comer.  But now the knave takes not only my money and goods, but my child whom I have brought up with painful care; and with my daughter he gets my goods and money besides.  And so I must reward him for the grief and harm he has caused me and must let him be the heir of the possessions I have acquired with pains and labor.  Surely, this is rewarding wickedness with honor; this is inviting grief and injury."         ~Martin Luther

      The process of courtship should be a partnership, not arranged by parents, but a partnership between the parents and their children, and Voddie Baucham teaches this well in his new book.  

      Recently, some friends of ours had their 18-year-old daughter go through the process of courtship like Baucham encourages.  The young man came to the family from the beginning, and asked permission from the father to court the daughter.  The parents were involved right from the beginning, and the purpose of the courtship was to lead to marriage.  It wasn’t to have a short-term fling or to "hook up", which is a scary concept to me.  Blessings to those who follow the biblical plan for courtship in their lives!

      I highly recommend What He Must Be…if He Wants to Marry My Daughter.  It is a very useful book for sons and daughters to read or go through with their parents, and for parents to read whether they only have sons or daughters, or both.  

© 2009 by Julieanne Miller
Read more