Being a Father is a huge responsibility that holds eternal consequences and rewards. So much of what adults do, the choices they make, their attitudes, their character, and their way of thinking is a direct result of the parenting that they received. As I think back on the years of parenting our eight kids I can think of many things I would have done differently, but I also recognize some things I did that worked.
1. I loved their Mother and worked in unity with her as we set our parenting goals and methods of training. We parented and trained champions for Jesus together with one mind. Kids that grow up in a home where the parents are a team have a strong sense of security and a healthy sense of worth and value.
2. I prayed every day for each of our kids in regards to every detail of their lives. Patty and I prayed together for them as well. Parents have authority from God over the Kingdom of Darkness to intercede for their kids, and provide protection for them from temptation. We were like shepherds of our flock, protecting them from the wolves.
3. I was a voracious reader of books on parenting, we regularly went to seminars on parenting, and we were continually seeking counsel and advice from parents of well-behaved kids. We knew that being a good parent was super important for the sake of the eternal future and success of each of our children, and there was so much that we didn’t know, and they were growing up so fast, and soon our part would be over.
4. I was super busy as the Pastor of our church, and I was obsessed with having a healthy and growing church. I knew that I had a strong tendency to neglect my family for the sake of succeeding as a Pastor. To help maintain balance and right priorities in my life I made detailed goals every year of what I would do as the Dad of my eight children. I made goals on the amount of time I would spend with the kids, and then kept track of my use of time religiously. I did most of my study and sermon preparation at night, after the kids were in bed. I arranged my schedule so that I was at most of their sporting events, their concerts, and school events. Patty and I planned family workdays, family fishing trips, family hunting trips, and trips to visit extended family.
It is very gratifying to get Fathers Day messages from my kids expressing appreciation to me for the years and time invested into their training, but the most gratifying thing in all of life for me now is watching them in action, seeing them live their lives with wisdom, recognizing the strong character that each one of them have, observing the obvious love for Jesus that they have and the fruit they are bearing for Him as His disciples.