Mentoring Minutes

My Best Decisions as a Dad

He will turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.  Malachi 4:6a

Notice that in God’s Word in our Scripture above that God begins by turning the hearts of fathers back to their children.  Dads let’s lead the way so our children will follow The Lord and turn their hearts back to us as fathers…and to Him!

Over the next two posts I’m going to share some of the decisions the Lord led me to make as a husband and father and I pray they will encourage and/or challenge you, and either way, bless you in your walk with Him, your marriage, parenting and family. Each of these decisions flowed from the priorities that The Lord had revealed in my life for placing my marriage and family above myself and all else except for The Lord Himself.

Here’s the first decision that I’ve made that I hope will encourage you as parents as you strive to train up your children in The Lord:

1) Loving Christ as Lord and pointing my children to their Heavenly Father.

This is not just claiming His free gift of salvation and showing up at church from time to time or even on a regular basis. Those are good and important but this is so much more.  This is making Him the first priority and thought in every choice (Jeremiah 29:12-13; Matthew 6:33) I make in my life and spending time in His Word and prayer EVERY day for the past 34+ years. He is the Source if we will avail ourselves of Him, and He must be FIRST (Luke 14:25-35).  As He is so prioritized our children have a much greater chance of knowing Him.

Continuing with decisions that helped shape not only who I was and am as a father but who my children have become and are becoming in The Lord, here’s the second best decision I’ve made:

2) My children know they are third, and are blessed for it. (Ephesians 5:25-29)

My children know that Christ is first and my wife, their mom, and our marriage is the second highest priority in my life. They have benefited greatly from seeing this lived out, not always perfectly, but always striving for it. I know because I’ve heard them share this openly with their friends when they’ve seen chaos in other relationships and homes.

This is in line with God’s Covenant Order and priorities of relationships and He blesses us when we are obedient. Remember this is about having a heart to walk in His order as there will be times when you must take care of children and their needs in the moment or season. Be sure to keep your heart and make decisions that show that your walk with The Lord, then your marriage and spouse, take priority. Your children will be blessed.

Next is the third best decision I ever made as a Dad.

3) Limiting time away from home. (Colossians 3:18-21)

In our book, The Authority of Love, I share about a couple of opportunities to be a national spokesperson for a growing organization. Each time my decision was prompted by my love (commitment) for my Lord, my wife, and family above all else. It was not always easy but The Lord has blessed and continues to bless these decisions.

Others may have made, or may make, a different decision. While I’ve never had anyone sit in my office and complain of the choice to spend more time with those they loved, I’ve had numerous “successful” people grieve over time spent in the office, on the road, i.e., away from their family, and wishing they’d chosen differently.

As we continue I pray that you will see The Lord’s hand guiding in these decisions according to His Word.  My fourth best decision was…

4) Saying “No” to other great opportunities. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Throughout the years I was given numerous opportunities to play and coach at every level. I turned down coaching positions with several high schools and universities as well as coaching and playing opportunities overseas and here in the USA because it wasn’t best for my family and children.

When my oldest son was seven years old I began coaching him in a church league and continued to do so with him and his brother all the way through their high school years and teams. Two years prior to this I had been on a collegiate coaching staff that included the National Coach of the Year and Player of the Year. Doors were opened but the priorities remained the same for me.

As I have sought and acknowledged The Lord in every decision, He has been and continues to be faithful for He can do no other. I pray that you will walk with Him and find the same as He leads you in every part of your life.

Turn and run to Him.  Seek, look to and acknowledge Him every moment of every day and He will see you through. You can’t do it without Him.

Food for Thought…Remember, it’s never too late to start and remember His Word to turn the hearts of fathers (parents) to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers (parents).  It will come to pass in all those who seek Him because He is faithful.

Love in Action

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article. Pray and ask The Holy Spirit to show you how He will turn your heart to and for your children.
  2. Make a list of ways that you can turn your heart to your children as The Lord leads.
  3. Pray for your children to turn their hearts fully to Christ and in so doing turn to you as Godly parents.

“Best Decisions, Part 2…” continued next week, Lord willing.

Love and Lordship Prayer Focus Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise of turning my heart as a father to my children and their hearts to me.  Help me to begin by making sure my heart is wholeheartedly devoted and turned to You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Parenting is Discipleship

Parents, don’t provoke your children in a way that ends up discouraging them.  Colossians 3:21

Love and Lordship in Focus…Parenting, i.e., discipling our children requires that we live our lives as disciples of Christ so that it aligns with what we are teaching them. They will catch much more by our example than by what we teach them.

As we continue to explore parenting (discipling) our children according to God’s design, let’s look at three opportunities for parents to disciple and train their children in line with God’s Word. These are not exhaustive or all-inclusive but they will give you some direction and ideas to implement in your family and parenting.

1) “Family Time” (“when you sit around the table, when you lie down and when you rise up”) – meals together, devotionals, family worship, etc. – all of these offer excellent times for stories, family history, recaps of the day, and provide great chances to go deeper in laughter, tears and emotion and especially in teaching and building character and relationships.

Don’t miss or take for granted these times when you can set aside the pressures and stresses of your day and the world and talk, listen to, enjoy and encourage each other through laughter and tears in serious and fun conversations.

2) “Along the Road” – school/team trips, road trips, vacations, drive time, appointments, other – more opportunities to focus the conversation through updates on school events, friends, teams, etc., and include character and relationship development.

Take the times to engage in and be intentional and involved as you can in as many of the activities that are going on in your children’s lives. Also, be careful not to live your life through them and/or sign them up for every sport, activity or event on the calendar, as the enemy will use this to destroy your family as well. Balance your time and be intentional about being present with them.

3) “Milestones” – special times and events, Rites of Passage, Passing on a Blessing, others – Focus on God’s design and order, including Jewish culture of Biblical times and young adulthood at 12 (female) and 13 (male) years of age (Jewish bat or bar mitzvah) with mature adulthood at 30 years of age (Jesus honored this in launching His Public Ministry at age 30 – Sermon on the Mount)…even though He stumped the religious leaders at age 12 prior to being recognized as a young adult. 

a. Rites of Passage – Family Crest or Symbol captured and given in some way to children along with family and friends’ letters of encouragement and challenge for each child at young adulthood

b. Ongoing discussions at age-appropriate times (beginning as early as age 3 with respect for body parts, etc.) about bodies, sexuality and relationships…again don’t let your past guilt or shame stop you from sowing seeds of righteousness, integrity and purity into their lives. Let His forgiveness, freedom, Truth and Love shine through you as parents and be passed onto their children.

c. Letters or encouragement of some kind from you as parents as they move on through life… graduations, jobs, successes, moving out on their own, engagement, marriage, etc.

Discipling Our Children in The Lord – Some Insights

In order to do all of this effectively and with God’s blessing we need to develop disciplines (guidelines and boundaries) in line with God’s Word. Punishment, as we discussed in last week’s article (https://loveandlordship.com/blog/biblical-discipleship-in-parenting-proverbs-226-ephesians-64/), and whenever possible, comes after talking with your children as to the motives and heart issues. Children will often come up with a harsher punishment than you will because they have to talk and think through the state of their heart that led to their disobedience or sinful actions.

As parents you can then encourage them to receive the loving punishment without grumbling or complaining (Philippians 2:14-15…this is good for all of us as adults throughout our life to shine His Light in a dark world). Remember, they have already recognized the sin in their heart and come up with their own punishment, at least to some degree so they are able to better accept what is taking place and why this loving action is needed in their life. As appropriate you can then show them “grace” by giving back or reducing the punishment before the time frame that they had set on themselves—helping them to see and experience truth (disciplines and punishment) and grace (receiving something back or reducing their punishment “before” they deserved it).

One other thing you can do that our children told us was very powerful in their growth as young adults and in Christ. We recognized significant moments in their lives (birthdays, graduations, special awards, moving out on their own, etc.) with special celebrations with just that child which would include a letter outlining what we had observed in them on their path to that moment, encouragement for the next phase of their life and Godly wisdom to help guide them.

I hope these will help you as you continue to disciple your children in and for The Lord to shine His Light for His Glory (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21).

Special Milestones

One of the most impactful special moments took place for each of our children upon the occasion of their 13th birthday. We developed a ring that included the Williams Family Crest. When I played basketball in Ireland someone in the Tourism department researched our family name. They presented me with a silver platter with our crest and motto related to our name – Williams in Gaelic means “Wisdom in Strength.” How daunting…and awesome is that?

The crest on the ring was the centerpiece and on each side we had engraved a Scripture; on one side was “Proverbs 9:10” which states, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” On the other side was “Philippians 4:13” which reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” “Wisdom in Strength.”

That event laid a path before them to both encourage and challenge them to walk in the Wisdom and Strength that only comes from The Lord. I pray the same for you and your children. What will you do to help them grow in Him?

Love and Lordship…Food for Thought – Parenting is discipleship! Above all else it is training and growing our children in Christ, in God’s Word and in The Holy Spirit…and the much more is caught by how we are living our lives than taught by what we say. As parents who desire integrity in our lives and our children, make sure your life and words align.

Love in Action

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article. Ask The Holy Spirit to show you how to parent your children to be disciples of Christ.
  2. Identify “Family Times,” “Road Times” and Milestones in your family and children’s lives.
  3. Come up with ways to recognize how you can make the most of the opportunities in your list from 2) above.

Regardless of whether you’ve done this to date or not, now is a great day to start for the sake of your children and generational discipleship.

Love and Lordship Prayer Focus…Heavenly Father, help me to look to You as I encourage and challenge my children to grow into responsible adults as they first and foremost grow as disciples of Christ. In His Name. Amen.

Biblical Discipleship in Parenting

Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

Love and Lordship in Focus…Training our children up in The Lord requires that we not only first walk that path ourselves but continually impress God’s Word and Christ’s character on them.

This will not be easy for most parents in today’s culture, including most in modern church culture. My prayer is that we look to God and His Word and apply His Truth in Grace and Love as we parent and disciple our children for His Kingdom and Glory.

Loving Discipline & Punishment

Parenting is ultimately about discipling your children to know Christ as their Savior and Lord and to grow in Him. Discipleship includes teaching, training, Godly discipline, and loving punishment in line with Biblical values, training your children in righteousness according to God’s Word.

Biblical Discipline is not punishment as we are to desire discipline (Proverbs 12:1).  Disciplines are actually the boundaries, guidelines, and foundations on which you establish or build your life, marriage, family, parenting (all relationships for that matter): Love, Wisdom, Virtue, Purity, Integrity, Patience, Self-control, and many more all based on the foundation of God’s Word–Absolute Truth. Biblical Punishment is actually what occurs when we fail to stay ‘inside’ or intentionally move ‘outside’ the disciplines that have been established in order to guide someone back within those truths where they can most fully and freely grow–Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:1-4; Hebrews 12:1-15.

Song – “Pass The Flame” by John Elefante… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl24mfXEn9A&list=PLN4iKuxWow6-vVbFWmePfAdBiI20DdRlK&index=5 

Are you studying and applying God’s loving disciplines and, as needed, loving punishment to guide, train and disciple your children in The Lord? This is not easy but it is what God knows we need and it’s worth it!

Keys to Biblical (& Healthy) Discipline & Punishment (Hebrews 12:5-11)

The following is to help you establish disciplines and guidelines and administer loving punishment as needed according to God’s Word and our Heavenly Father’s example found in Hebrews 12:5-6, quoting Proverbs 3:11-12. The Greek word “paideia” and “paideuo” used in these verses, respectively, is most often translated as “discipline” but here it actually means, “to chastise.” Remember this is God so it is always done in love to correct us and draw us to Him and we are wise to follow His example in our parenting.

Guidelines for Biblical Disciplines and Punishment:

1) Discipline and punishment are both part of God’s Truth and Love toward us–His Word must be the source in establishing discipline and administering punishment.

2) Discipline is modeled first in our lives before applied in others–lessons are caught more than taught.

3) Be clear and consistent–both discipline and punishment should be clearly communicated and consistently applied in your life and parenting.

4) Three guidelines for punishment:

     A) Disrespect – ignorant or initial willfulness;
     B) Defiance – clear, continued rebellion toward your authority;
     C) Danger – to avoid immediate harm and teach lessons that protect from danger.

5) Never punish in anger or from pride–be sure to check your own motives and selfishness whenever applying punishment with your children–very difficult in tense and embarrassing moments (for us as parents), but punishment must be applied in Love.

6) Punishment and reward – Punishment fits the crime; give opportunities to reward for good behavior and heart as well as for good response to punishment (train the heart). Be sure to connect both punishment and reward with character rather than just accomplishment or performance.

7) Involve your children – allow them to help establish foundations and guidelines based on God’s Word as you craft and communicate disciplines and punishment. Allow them to define their own punishment to the extent they understand the heart issues and can apply it justly. You keep the final say!

I hope these will help you as you train up your children in The Lord. As we continue with this crucially important topic let’s look at what it takes to pass on a Godly generational legacy for His Glory!

This is not only a difficult topic for us to understand it is hard to receive as the culture has twisted this, as they do all things of the Lord and His Word, so that we have conformed in most things to the way of the world rather than being transformed by God’s Word and Spirit (Romans 12:2).

Earlier we looked at the Greek word that was interpreted as discipline for guiding and for chastising, both coming from the same root word. However, the writer of Hebrews, under the inspiration of The Holy Spirit uses the following Greek word, mastigoō, one time in Hebrews 12:6 and it is translated, “to scourge” or “to whip”… all those God receives as His child. Why? Because He loves to punish us? Absolutely not, as that makes no sense based on the rest of the story that Christ gave us culminating in The Cross. He then states in verse 8 that if we do not receive the correction, implying the punishment from v. 6, then we are actually not His children.

I don’t know about you but I think that you, as do I, want to be His child and I want the same for my children.  This means He will lovingly punish us…OUCH!

This is certainly not to advocate for child abuse of any kind, but it is to help us understand that punishment is part of God’s love and He knows that we will need it as sinful people in a fallen world. I say often, “God is willing to place the 1,000 volt fence before the 1,000 foot cliff. The shock may hurt but you have the chance to learn from it rather than walk off the cliff.”

Be firm and loving, just as God is, as you apply discipline and punishment with your children for there is great reward (see Hebrews 12:10-11)!

What is true in our spiritual family with God our Father must also be true in our earthly families as we heed His Word and follow His example of discipline and punishment in love, always for our good and for His Glory!

In closing this article I want to share a personal prayer and outcome that my wife, Ami, and I experienced as we applied these principles of God’s loving discipline and punishment with our children.

As we were raising our children our prayer and desire was for them to know all of God’s love, knowing that every bit of it, even the tough and sometimes painful parts, were for their good. Knowing that God is always true to His Word and that as His child, they would at some point receive His punishment out of His love, our prayer was that instead of them running from it and rebelling against Him we asked that they would see and recognize His love, even and especially in the punishment, and run toward Him. It’s easy to run to Him when He is giving us the pleasant things.  We wanted to be as faithful, firm, gentle and loving as we could by the indwelling presence of The Holy Spirit in our lives as parents.

As they have faced their own consequences and His loving, yet tough, punishment we have seen that prayer come to pass and are so excited about how He has drawn them to Him.  In so doing, He has grown them in Christ! What a faithful answer to our prayer that instead of running from God…they ran to Him! Praise The Lord!

Food for Thought…In God’s Love, because He knows what is best for us in every situation, He has clearly included His loving punishment for our good.  Accept it and turn to Him rather than running further away when He applies this to your life as His true son or daughter. 

Love in Action

  1. Read the Scriptures in this article. Ask The Holy Spirit to show you how you have interpreted and applied discipline/punishment in your children’s lives.
  2. Accept and apply discipline with yourself and your children as foundations, boundaries and guidelines by which we live our lives most fully and freely.
  3. Begin to accept punishment as part of God’s Love and apply it in love.
  4. Ask for forgiveness where you have punished your children in anger or pride and strive to do better in the power of The Holy Spirit.

Love and Lordship Prayer Focus…Heavenly Father, help me follow Your example of loving disciplines taught and modeled and loving punishment applied so that I am pointing my children to You. In Jesus Name. Amen.