Biblical Parenting: Fatherhood Training

Dinner Topics for Thursday

Biblical Parenting: Fatherhood Training

Superdad

keyI think it is God-designed. Dad is the pace setter, the value giver, the protector. Kids, especially sons, look to their dads as their hero. ~Robert Lewis

dad2“Every man needs to be assumed as inadequate for manhood,” Robert Lewis told AFA Journal. “And every dad needs to be assumed as inadequate for fatherhood.” Lewis is author of Raising a Modern- Day Knight and Real Family Values.

Lewis is passionate about training males to be men and dads to be fathers. His passion has led him to speak about marriage and parenting across several continents. He recently spoke with AFAJ about the breakdown of fatherhood and how the church can help men get back on track.

AFA Journal: Where does Dad’s hero status come from?
Robert Lewis: I think it is God-designed. Dad is the pace setter, the value giver, the protector. Kids, especially sons, look to their dads as their hero.

Imagine Dad receiving a bucket of hero coins at the start of parenting.  He can waste those credits by living hypocritically, living in anger, or being absent. But he has a lot to spend before he loses that status.

AFAsuperdadHowever, if he recognizes his God-given gift, he will build on those credits and try to provide an environment where he never loses it. The result will be daughters growing up identifying their father as the ideal figure of manhood, knowing he is what they want in a husband. Sons will grow up saying he is the man they want to become. Unfortunately, most men don’t know how to invest those credits and most churches aren’t providing the necessary training for him to know how.

 

AFAJ: Why are fathers not getting that training in churches?
RL: Put simply, the church has made wrong assumptions, and fathers have come to wrong conclusions. Churches are assuming men are being produced by homes with dads, but they aren’t. Look at American culture; dads aren’t there. Over 40% of today’s men and women didn’t have a dad growing up. Probably another 30% [of fathers] were emotionally absent. There is a tragedy moving into the church with men.

daddaughter2Another wrong assumption churches have made is that dads possess the necessary skills to be successful fathers and husbands. But if they haven’t received those skills at church, where do we suppose they get them?

AFAJ: What assumptions can the church make?
RL: The church should assume every man is inadequate for manhood and every dad is inadequate for fatherhood. We need to put that on the church walls to drive men to understand they need wisdom because, according to Proverbs 24:3, a house is built by wisdom. That wisdom is not automatic. It is acquired.

There are churches with successful women’s ministry, children’s ministry, preaching ministry, but with a deficit in men’s ministries. I think the greatest error of the local church today is not giving a super priority to developing men, from the pastor down.

Gospel Teachings for Dads

Some churches are recognizing the problem and are starting to make changes.

AFAJ: How are those churches changing?
RL: They realize they must give men the call to intentionally love their wives and raise their children with wisdom. They know there is no institution on earth, no business school in the world that trains men how to be men. There is only one institution that can give that call, and it’s the church.

If I could speak to every church, I would say two things: Have a basic manhood class and a basic dad class taught by veteran dads every year.

Fathersblessing lupoadolfolasinphillippinesMen need rigorous training by solid men with great curricula. But it mustn’t be a one-time shot. The training must go on for weeks. I wouldn’t have a dad class of less than six weeks. That is the minimum time required to really pound these fundamentals into their hearts.

Consider the training guys get if they want to be great hunters or fishermen. They don’t go to one seminar and consider themselves experts. They seek out disciplined training by proven veterans. In the realm of fatherhood, every church has those veterans. The church doesn’t need new ideas. It only needs a vision to develop men and fathers.

(NOTE on Resource for Fathers. One church, Members of the Mormon Church, enjoy tons of training for men and boys—not just a course  study of a few weeks—but life-long, year in and year out, organized in every unit of the church body, from boy scout age to adult parenting and leadership, gospel teachings on developing Christlike attributes for godly men as a way of life.)

With all this, there must be structural changes in the church. It needs structural changes where the leadership decides to have more than just a children’s program and youth group. Churches that have training classes around marriage, parenting, manhood, womanhood, and the gospel are the ones recognizing this incredible need and having tremendous success.

fathermentoringAFAJ: Do individual men make the same assumptions about themselves that the church makes?
RL: Absolutely. But Scripture is constantly calling us not to assume we know anything. Peter, when talking to husbands, said, “Men, live with your wives according to knowledge” (1 Peter 3:7). The word he uses is ginosko, which has the connotation of information you acquire. It isn’t common sense. Peter is commanding men not to assume they have knowledge because they don’t. He seems to even say, “Don’t guess at what being a good husband and dad is because you’ll get it wrong.”

Men have to understand it’s okay not to know; the sin is in not going and getting the knowledge. You have to pursue and seek wisdom to get it. Every dad has to study what it means to be a parent.

I even go as far as saying a guy who assumes he knows how to be a father and husband is a fool. The guy who assumes he doesn’t is already wise because he will strive to collect wisdom and gather fathering skills. He will upgrade his parenting and those hero credits God gave him at his child’s birth. And when he begins to act on that acquired wisdom, he becomes the game-winning dad by the time his child leaves home.

Learn of Christ

AFAJ: How does a father pursue wisdom?
RL: There are two things a young man can do. First, he can encourage his pastor and church to start manhood and fatherhood classes.

When I work with dads, I try to give them some values that reconnect them to the heart issues of their families. But most men are clueless when it comes to that. We have been going through cultural shifts that have decimated family values and natural family interaction. We are left with a family where everyone is isolated from everyone else. They are strung together with programming at church or school, but not the real substance issues. So look for curriculum that will address those needs.

AFAJ: What should a church do when it finds a great resource?
RL:They should make that the resource of the church. We in the American church gobble up resources like we do movies. We use it once and can it. If you have a great resource, get some great leaders and make it the resource of the church. Keep using it until everyone has mastered it.

familyprayerAFAJ: Aside from resources, in your book you heavily promote finding or being a mentor.
RL: Absolutely. I have found every young man wants to hear about the lives of older men. They want to learn from the success and failures of veteran fathers.

Sadly, older men are often afraid. But they can be activated into the mentoring process by the pleading of younger men.

I always tell men, every older man is good enough to be a mentor, and every younger man is good enough to ask for it.

AFAJ: Finding mentors and starting a class takes time. What practical wisdom can you offer parents in the meantime?
RL: The first thing Mom and Dad have to do is ask, “What are our values?” When I wrote Real Family Values I remember the resistance I got from young couples because they didn’t know how to articulate their values and write them down.

George Barna told me the homes and families with authentic, stable adult children happen when parents know the values they want their children to leave home with, can easily articulate them to each other and children, and parent with that end in mind. They constantly check their parenting against those values. They constantly call their children back to those values.

father-son-grandson_1448787_inlOnce you get to the point you know and can articulate your principles, now you have two applications: Talk about them while living them out, and constantly reinforce them for your children.

Parents need the confidence that comes from writing something down. Act as though they are written in stone, unchangeable. Then emulate them and constantly call children back to them. In today’s fast-paced world, kids will better catch what you live than hear what you say. Otherwise, the world is going to lure both parents and children away from them.

The point of all the training, mentorship, assuming men don’t possess wisdom, and encouraging them to pursue it, is to restore the hearts of fathers to their children. It is different than rules. Shepherding kids in programs, sports, or academics is good, but if your child doesn’t have your heart, your child is at a deficit when he leaves home. But that is where we are today. And without a drastic change in the hearts of fathers and in the church, I believe children will be the tragedy of the 21st century.

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Jesus-bcome-disciple-lds-churchFor fathers pursuing wisdom

Resource for Fathers. Members of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints  enjoy tons of training for men and boys—not just a course of study of a few weeks— but life-long, year in and year out, organized in every unit of the church body, from boy scout age to adult parenting and leadership, gospel teachings on developing Christlike attributes for godly men as a way of life.

 What started as a book has become one of the most sought-after online resources on fatherhood. Raising a Modern-Day Knight has grown to include a series of videos, online tools, an app, and a year-by-year playbook for fathers to help them guide and disciple their sons. The book is available online and at bookstores. Learn more about all these resources at rmdk.com.

 When it comes to curriculum, few can beat Men’s Fraternity. The series contains three volumes, all of which guide men to authentic manhood. The lessons are timeless and applicable to every father, no matter what stage of parenting he is in. Learn more at mensfraternity.com.

 33 The Series is a six-volume Bible study aimed at helping men seek wisdom and apply what they find. Each volume contains six sessions and builds on the timeless truths and applications that are foundational to Men’s Fraternity. Learn more at authenticmanhood.com.

Robert Lewis served as directional leader of Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, for 21 years. He is the author and producer of a number of best- selling books and video resources.

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OneMilliondads … lead or others will

Online communities can be a great resource for discussion, learning, and encouragement. Nowhere is this truer than at AFA’s father-centered blog, OneMilliondads.

OMD editor Jim Shempert said, “I became a father two years ago and quickly learned I was in over my head as it relates to being a Christian father. I began digesting every book, website, and blog I could find, and I wanted to help create a space specifically for dads like me.  As Christian fathers, we learn one day at a time.  Hopefully, OMD can help make each day’s learning a little easier.”

http://www.afajournal.org/recent-issues/2015/june/superdad/

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Parenting Tips: Gospel Teachings for Father and Son

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Gospel Teachings for Father and Son

By Larry M. Gibson

key“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words” (attributed to Francis of Assisi). Every day you are teaching your children what it means to be a father. You are laying a foundation for the next generation. Your sons will learn how to be husbands and fathers by observing the way you fulfill these roles. ~Larry M. Gibson

My father taught me a significant lesson when I was young. He sensed that I was becoming too enamored with temporal things. When I had money, I immediately spent it—almost always on myself.

One afternoon he took me to purchase some new shoes. On the second floor of the department store, he invited me to look out the window with him.

“What do you see?” he asked.

father-teaching-son-window

“Buildings, sky, people” was my response.

“How many?”

“A lot!”

He then pulled this coin from his pocket. As he handed it to me, he asked, “What is this?”

I immediately knew: “A silver dollar!”

 

Drawing on his knowledge of chemistry, he said, “If you melt that silver dollar and mix it with the right ingredients, you would have silver nitrate. If we coated this window with silver nitrate, what would you see?”

father-teaching-son-mirrorI had no idea, so he escorted me to a full-length mirror and asked, “Now what do you see?”

“I see me.”

“No,” he replied, “what you see is silver reflecting you. If you focus on the silver, all you will see is yourself, and like a veil, it will keep you from seeing clearly the eternal destiny Heavenly Father has prepared just for you.”

“Larry,” he continued, “‘seek not the things of this world but seek … first … the kingdom of God, and to establish [His] righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you’” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:38 [in Matthew 6:33, footnote a]).

He told me to keep the dollar and never lose it. Each time I looked at it, I was to think about the eternal destiny that Heavenly Father has for me.

I loved my father and how he taught. I wanted to be like him. He planted in my heart the desire to be a good father, and my deepest hope is that I am living up to his example.

picture-quote-decisions-destinyOur beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has often said that our decisions determine our destiny and have eternal consequences (see “Decisions Determine Destiny” [Church Educational System fireside, Nov. 6, 2005], 2; lds.org/broadcasts).

Should we not, then, develop a clear vision of our eternal destiny, particularly the one that Heavenly Father wants us to achieve—eternal fatherhood? Let our eternal destiny drive all of our decisions. Regardless of how difficult those decisions may be, Father will sustain us.

I learned about the power of such a vision when I joined my 12- and 13-year-old sons for a 50/20 competition. A 50/20 consists of walking 50 miles (80 km) in less than 20 hours. We started at 9:00 p.m. and walked all that night and most of the next day. It was an excruciating 19 hours, but we succeeded.

Upon returning home, we literally crawled into the house, where a wonderful wife and mother had prepared a lovely dinner, which we didn’t touch. My younger son collapsed, totally exhausted, on the couch, while my older son crawled downstairs to his bedroom.

After some painful rest of my own, I went to my younger son to make sure he was still alive.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“Dad, that was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I never want to do it again.”

I wasn’t about to tell him that I would never do it again either. Instead, I told him how proud I was that he had accomplished such a hard thing. I knew it would prepare him for other hard things he would face in his future. With that thought, I said, “Son, let me make you this promise. When you go on your mission, you will never have to walk 50 miles in one day.”

“Good, Dad! Then I’m going.”

Those simple words filled my soul with gratitude and joy.

I then went downstairs to my oldest son. I lay by him—then touched him. “Son, are you all right?”

“Dad, that was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, and I will never, ever do it again.” His eyes closed—then opened—and he said, “Unless my son wants me to.”

Tears came as I expressed how grateful I was for him. I told him I knew he was going to be a much better father than I was. My heart was full because at his young and tender age he already recognized that one of his most sacred priesthood duties was to be a father. He had no fear of that role and title—the very title that God Himself wants us to use when we speak to Him. I knew I had the responsibility to nurture the embers of fatherhood that were burning within my son.

These words of the Savior took on a much deeper meaning to me as a father:

robbins-face-christ“The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for [whatsoever things He] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).

“I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me” (John 8:28).

I love being a husband and father—married to a chosen daughter of heavenly parents. I love her. It is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. My hope that night was that my five sons and their sister would always see in me the joy that comes from eternal marriage, fatherhood, and family.

Fathers, I am sure you have heard the saying “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words” (attributed to Francis of Assisi). Every day you are teaching your children what it means to be a father. You are laying a foundation for the next generation. Your sons will learn how to be husbands and fathers by observing the way you fulfill these roles. For example:

Do they know how much you love and cherish their mother and how much you love being their father?

They will learn how to treat their future wife and children as they watch you treat each one of them just as Heavenly Father would.

Through your example, they can learn how to respect, honor, and protect womanhood.

In your home, they can learn to preside over their family in love and righteousness. They can learn to provide the necessities of life and protection for their family—temporally and spiritually (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129).

Brethren, with all the energy of my soul, I ask you to consider this question: Do your sons see you striving to do what Heavenly Father would have them do?

I pray the answer is yes. If the answer is no, it’s not too late to change, but you must begin today. And I testify that Heavenly Father will help you.

Now, you young men, whom I dearly love, you know you are preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, receive sacred temple ordinances, fulfill your duty and obligation to serve a full-time mission, and then, without waiting too long, get married in the temple to a daughter of God and have a family. You are then to lead your family in spiritual things as guided by the Holy Ghost (see D&C 20:44; 46:2; 107:12).

Fatherhood Training

I have asked many young men around the world, “Why are you here?”

So far, not one has responded, “To learn to be a father, that I might be prepared and qualified to receive all that Heavenly Father has.”

Let’s examine your Aaronic Priesthood duties as described in section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Be sensitive to what you feel as I apply these duties to your service in your family.

Father's Blessing by L.A. Olas

Father’s Blessing by L.A. Olas

“Invite all [of your family] to come unto Christ” (verse 59).

“Watch over [them] always, and be with and strengthen them” (verse 53).

“Preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize” members of your family (verse 46).

“Exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (verse 47).

“See that there is no iniquity in [your family], neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking” (verse 54).

“See that [your family meets] together often” (verse 55).

Assist your father in his duties as patriarch. Support your mother with priesthood strength when a father is not present (see verses 52, 56).

When asked, “ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons” in your family (verse 48).

Doesn’t this sound like the work and role of a father ?

father-teaching-boy-readingbookdutytoGodFulfilling your Aaronic Priesthood duties is preparing you young men for fatherhood. The Duty to God resource can help you learn about and make specific plans to fulfill your duties. It can serve as a guide and assistance as you seek Heavenly Father’s will and set goals to accomplish it.

Father in Heaven has brought you here at this particular time for a special work and eternal purpose. He wants you to see clearly and understand what that purpose is. He is your Father, and you can always turn to Him for guidance.

I know that Heavenly Father is concerned about each of us individually and has a personal plan for us to achieve our eternal destiny. He has sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to help us overcome our imperfections through the Atonement. He has blessed us with the Holy Ghost to be a witness, companion, and guide to our eternal destination if we will Jesus-bcome-disciple-lds-churchrely on Him. May we each enjoy the fulness of Father’s blessings in this life and the fulfillment of His work and His glory by becoming fathers to our families for eternity.

Resource for Fathers. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints enjoy tons of training for men and boys—not just a course of study of a few weeks— but life-long, year in and year out, organized in every unit of the church body, from boy scout age to adult parenting and leadership, gospel teachings on developing Christ-like attributes for godly men as a way of life.

How you can help in Mentoring Young Adults, Imparting Biblical Family Values, and Securing their Future