I don’t know about you, but I find God’s instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 both challenging and convicting. It’s in this passage that God commands parents to teach their children in His ways diligently—as we sit at home, walk along the way, rise up, lie down, and so on.
In other words, we’re basically supposed to be training our children in the ways of God all the time. It’s a constant, unending priority. If you’ve got kids, one of your primary job descriptions as a human being is to be your child’s diligent teacher.
It’s a responsibility I want to take seriously, yet I fail way too often. I feel I rarely live up to the level of diligence described in this passage.
This was brought to mind recently when I attended a homeschool convention. Listening to one of the speakers, I was reminded again that I need to do a better job training and discipling my kids. Right there, I asked God to help me become a Deuteronomy 6 Dad.
The next day was Sunday, and I had frankly forgotten about that quick prayer offered up the day before. But God, of course, hadn’t.
As my wife and I spent a few minutes in the afternoon planning the upcoming week, we heard crying from upstairs where three of our children (ages six, five, and three) were playing. I went up to discover Katherine, the three-year-old, laying on her back crying, and Timothy, the five-year-old, standing unconcernedly nearby. There had been an accident of some sort—mostly Timothy’s fault, from what I could discern—and Katherine had been hurt.
One of the qualities I want to instill in my boys is care for others—particularly those younger or weaker than themselves. So to see Timothy standing by doing nothing while his sister was crying (as a result of his carelessness no less), showed me that he hadn’t taken this lesson to heart yet.
And this was when God began to answer my prayer from the day before.
Instead of getting upset and railing at Timothy for his carelessness and thoughtlessness, I sat down and began to talk about how we should take care of others. I talked about how Jesus wants us to treat each other. We talked about the Good Samaritan and how he had shown love to the man left for dead by the road, and if God wants us to love even strangers, how much more should we love our own family?
It was one of those moments when I actually felt like I was handling this Dad role pretty well.
When I went back downstairs, I remembered my prayer from the day before. God, I felt, had just answered that prayer.
No, one good conversation with my boys about loving their sister doesn’t make me a Deuteronomy 6 Dad—not yet. But every teachable moment I seize brings me that much closer to the ideal I want to reach.
I want to keep asking God for His help in becoming a father who takes Deuteronomy 6 seriously, and I want to keep taking advantage of the teachable moments life brings my way. I also want to be ready to create teachable moments, speaking of God and His truth on a regular basis with my kids.
The truth is, if we don’t teach our children how to know, love, and serve God, who will? Yes, we hope they’ll learn these things at church, but God gave my wife and me the primary responsibility. The church is a support—not a crutch. And the fact is, if my wife and I aren’t doing our job at home, it’s unlikely the church will be able to succeed in a couple of hours a week.
Dads (and Moms, too), let’s take our responsibility seriously. Ask God to help you become a Deuteronomy 6 Dad. It’s a prayer He’d love to answer.
Then keep your eyes open for the teachable moments God will bring your way.
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