Obedience and respect
I’m getting old enough to see another generation taking charge of the world and running it as they deem to be correct.
I guess I see the same things my forefathers have seen before me and as they probably did, I have a tendency to reflect on the not-so-good job I did raising children. I wish I had been mature enough to have done this or that a little differently, and if I had, maybe this world wouldn’t be in the confused state it displays today.
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m proud of my children and delighted with the attitude they have in raising their children. But, way too often I see neglect on the part of the father image all children want and need. It’s a basic instinct to want and need direction and discipline as a child gropes to find his or her place in the world. There has to be that safe stable place to go to for guidance and example, which, unfortunately, is missing in so many lives of young people today.
I don’t guess there’s a father out there who feels he got it totally right when he looks back on how he raised his children, but I’ll bet he and grandma have good advice on how to raise their grandchildren. Oops, didn’t mean to step on any toes. Advise wisely, but don’t demand.
I think the all-time greatest story about the influence of a father has to do with adolescent elephants. In an effort to save the species, researchers were proud of the fact that they had raised many African elephants from birth to adolescent age. A problem of overcrowding arose in one preserve to a point of having to move several teenage bull elephants to another location. Little did those who ordered the transfer understand what would happen. In the new area, gradually, the teen elephants became unruly. They even formed gangs, throwing large tree branches around and killing rhinoceroses.
The managers of the preserve began to take pictures and keep a “rap sheet” on offenders. Because they had no correction facilities for the juvenile delinquents, many of them had to be shot and killed. Finally, those in charge decided these young bull elephants didn’t know how to behave as elephants. They needed role models and father figures, someone who would bring them under control. Some big mature bull elephants were shipped in, and immediately the youngsters learned who was in control. The teens got whipped into shape in a hurry, and the killing of rhinoceroses ceased.
It’s funny what a little adult supervision can do. Where have all the fathers gone? (Proverbs 29: 15) “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.”
A man was asked what he got for Father’s Day and he replied, “The bills from Mother’s Day!” Ouch! Well, what a father really wants is obedience and respect, and the Bible teaches, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother; which is the first commandment with a promise; that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).
The Bible also teaches, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Fathers, how do you gain obedience and respect from your children? Show obedience and respect. When faced with all the ideals of the world Joshua said, “... if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, ... But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). God loves a loving father and His wisdom as the Father of all is available for fathers raising great children.
Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. This column will be available in the Wilson County News when space is available. Readers can also find his column on his blog at http://wilsoncountynews.com.
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