FROM JIM’S HEART—The effects of nearly 20 years of growing up under a parent (for our purposes, a dad) will leave a lasting impression on a child. The imprint of that modeling isn’t always visible, but the results of a father’s influence will show up in the child at some point in the future.
If Dad had an anger problem, guess what? His children will have trouble containing their anger. If Dad physically abused his children, guess what? The next generation of moms and dads will most likely treat their own children the same way. Or, as an overreaction, they may go to the other extreme and completely withhold discipline of any kind whatsoever.
A Negative Role Model
Even in the Bible we don’t find a lot of good human role models for dads. So let me make my point with a classic negative role model in a dad named Eli.
In Eli we see a case of “like father, like sons.” Eli was a priest of Israel during the last days of the Judges (1 Samuel 2). As a priest, he was allowed to take a portion of certain offerings from the people for his services to them. Unfortunately, he abused this privilege and took more than his portion. Here is God’s indictment of Eli:
Why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me— for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel! (1 Samuel 2:29 NLT).
Did you notice the connection between father and sons? God spelled it out: “You and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel.” Eli was guilty of taking more of the sacrifice than he was allotted, which had made him fat. He was guilty of despising the offerings the people were giving to the Lord. And guess what? Eli’s boys were following in their dad’s footsteps (see 2:12-17).
Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord. And the priests’ custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. Then he would thrust it into the [cooking vessel]…and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there (verses 12-14).
For a priest to take part of the offering was permitted. But the sons of Eli went beyond what was prescribed by the Law of Moses and demanded meat from the people before they cooked it. If the people balked, Eli’s sons would say, “No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force” (verse 16). God did not take this offense lightly: “The sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (verse 17).
Tragically, Eli was a participant in this, for as God said, “You give your sons more honor than you give me” (1 Samuel 2:29 NLT).
What a chilling thought to realize that your children are observing your life, logging your activities, and repeating your actions, whether good or bad. I know from personal experience that what I observed from my own father’s behavior served as both a positive and negative influence on my role as a husband and father.
Modeling is truly a powerful force!
God, I’m amazed that You don’t give up on me when I fail. I do want to walk in obedience, to be free from sin, and to see You move in and through my life and in my children’s lives. Amen.
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- letting your kids know you love and care for them
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Pick up a copy of this powerful book for dads today!
Art Prints: Check out these Scripture art prints, designed to encourage you to be a dad after God’s own heart!
What major decision are you facing right now? Ask God for help in setting a godly example to your children.
Take time to pray and share your thoughts and concerns with Him, and ask for His leading as you move forward.
Modeling is truly a powerful force!