Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
It’s convenient for the gatekeepers of a social group to blame internal turbulence or embarrassing foolishness on its rowdy and rascally children.
Some of their common platitudes may slip out this way:
“I can’t believe kids these days; they got no respect for nothing and nobody!”
“I don’t know if there’s any hope left for this bunch of snotty-nosed brats!”
“I know one thing, if I’d done that (or said that) to my daddy, I couldn’t a sit down for a month of Sundays!”
But remarks of such triteness contribute no more than knee jerk reactions to systemic issues, issues for which few have time, energy, nor a redemptive strategy. In a nut shell, whatever seems to be wrong with the structure of a family, community, culture, or even the Church, the fault seems to inextricably shift to those unruly, unchecked, ungovernable, “kids”!
Ah, but there’s those pesky little scriptures!
For if not for scripture, we’d shove those young ‘uns behavioral issues right back on themselves, and piously place society’s burden on the soft shoulders of the “pimply faced”, “ain’t even shaving yet”, “still wet behind the ears”, that awkward-stage, know-it-all demographic – those rebellious little preteens and adolescents!
But slow down, stop, and reread this beautifully corrective, prophetic Malachi text. Before there’s any showdown with juveniles and their delinquency (a contagion that’s both easy to observe and even easier to critique), consider Malachi’s emphatic as He speaks first to the heart of the fathers. In Holy Spirit shorthand: “hey, address the head, and the body will work fine”.
Progenitorial and paternal, fathers are designed to lead, protect, provide, and bear responsibility for a family’s wellbeing. Numerous studies reveal (as though we needed statistics to prove what scripture and prior centuries of experience prove), that a direct correlation exists between diligent fatherhood and the relational health of family, community, and church.
Given the sacred heaviness of a father’s influence and presence within the family structure, a hearty return to such a mentality would provide immeasurable results. It is wise, worthy and clear, that the original paternal design was and will continue to bring glory to the Creator when faithfully adopted.
So consider, even in the throes of present relational and social angst, the generations that will ultimately arise triumphant from today’s generation of faithful fathers – fathers that sow daily in the rich soil of commitment, compassion, discipline, love and physical presence!
So what can today’s fathers do to ensure tomorrow’s families are fulfilled and edifying?
Will today’s dads follow in the dark shadows of previous fathers that lived selfishly, randomly, and without purpose?
Will this generation of fathers live wasted, void of investment in the generations to come?
What can today’s dads do to exercise their divine influence in seeing their wives and children enjoying life, and their Creator honored and glorified?
Here are a few random points for fathers, and since they’ll require more of our hearts than our wallets, why not jump on them!
1) Love the mother of your children, your wife! The kids will know!
2) Be playfully affectionate! They love it, and they’ll never forget it!
3) Be physically present- at meal times, bedtime, and game time!
4) Pray with them about everything – they believe better than we do!
5) Make nature a veritable classroom – hikes, oceans, flowers, dogs!
6) Make the Bible the most honored piece of literature ever penned.
7) Build that sandbox – it’s more fulfilling than cartoons and games!
8) Show them compassion through injured pets or elderly grandparents.
9) Cultivate a love for reading – words, knowledge, and critical thinking matters!
10) Make church attendance a thing of joy – they’ll perceive your authenticity, and in time believe your God!
The day that precedes the great Day of the Lord will experience a holy return to honor and respect among fathers and families – a renewal of such proportion the world will only marvel and admire. If that is to be, and it will be according to prophecy, then why should we not be part of that glorious appearing of Christ, even as it begins in the families of those who believe?
Happy Father’s Day, Impact Church!