1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
2 For length of days and years of life
And peace they will add to you.
3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
~ Proverbs 3:1-7
Being a father is tough work. Being a father is a constant challenge. But being a father is a wonderful adventure. As a father, I am continually helping to shape the life of my son Jacob. To be honest, it’s often overwhelming, and I need all the help I can get. To father well, we need a father’s vision—a vision for wisdom and for our children to live out the heart of that wisdom. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, even had troubles raising his own kids, but he left some great resources behind for us fathers. His “fathering advice” always centered on pursuing wisdom from above. And that wisdom shaped a vision for the lives of his children.
A Vision of our Children’s Character
Solomon, the wise father, started here—character. How do we want our children to live, to think, to act? These are questions of character. Solomon wanted his kids to listen to the heart of God, to be faithful and reliable, and to be known as people who lived out the teaching of their God. He knew that if we had a vision for this type of character in our children, they would experience the blessing and the wholeness that comes from God. Even in Solomon’s day, there was a multiplicity of enticements beckoning for his children’s hearts. Nothing has changed. Our children are bombarded every day with opportunities to sacrifice their character. The Psalmist who penned Psalm 119 knew of the temptations regarding purity in the heart of a “young man” (Psalm 119:9-16), and his antidote was the same as Solomon’s—treasure God’s instruction in your heart. As fathers, we must model God’s instruction and His heart, and we must constantly teach them who He is. And in doing so, we help them shape a vision of who He is calling them to be.
A Vision of our Children’s Future
It has been said that character determines destiny. How we live determines how we navigate the path ahead of us. Solomon, like any good father, wanted his children to experientially know the security of their Heavenly Father. He wanted his children to know God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” is much more than the intellectual assent of knowing about the Father. The Hebrew concept of trust always centers upon the feeling of being secure in the arms of the Father. If Solomon’s kids knew God in a deep, experiential way, their future, their path, and their journey would be straight. “Straight” in Proverbs 3:6 means “free from obstacles.” Any experienced father knows that our children’s path will never be totally free of obstacles and things that desire to snag their hearts. But when we teach our children to pursue a deep relationship with their Heavenly Father, those obstacles will not ensnare them. They won’t be held back in their journey to be like Jesus. What do you want your children’s future to look like? In five, ten, fifteen years, where do you want to see your children (I know “out of the house” will be a common refrain, but think a bit more deeply)? As fathers, we must help our children shape a vision of where God longs to take them.
A Vision of Jesus Christ
The greatest introduction we can ever make for our children is to introduce them to their Savior Jesus Christ. Solomon continually tells his children to pursue the wisdom of God, the wisdom from above. The Apostle Paul, through the lens of the New Testament, tells us that the wisdom of God is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24). If our children pursue and seek Jesus, they will be filled with all of those character qualities that Solomon desires for his children in Proverbs 3. They will be filled with faithfulness, love, and mercy. They will seek to know and honor God with their lives—present and future. They will be people who navigate the rugged journey of life with grace because they are walking with their Lord. They will follow Him. They will be His disciples. There can be no greater heart, vision, and joy for a father than to know that His children call themselves followers of the Risen Christ. And as fathers, we must help our children shape a vision of their ever-present and ever-faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
“Heavenly Father, through the power of Your Holy Spirit, give us earthly fathers a deep passion to teach our children how to pursue and seek the Savior Jesus Christ for a lifetime. Amen.”