That’s a job that we can’t delegate, because God has placed that job in our hands. Do you want to know if you are the leader in your home? Turn around, and see who’s following.

b. He is a Lover (vs. 19)

Guys, just in case you don't have your glasses on or you’re wishfully thinking this morning, this verse does not say "Make love" to her. It says, "love her". There's a big difference. Anyone can "make love" but it takes a man to really love a woman. And part of what it means to love a woman is found in the word husband. The word is used to speak of someone who holds the house together.

Some of you may have heard the word "husbandry" used to refer to agriculture or gardening. A gardener is someone "who cultivates the soil and keeps the weeds out. As husbands, our responsibility is to love our wives by holding things together and providing an atmosphere of growth and fruitfulness in our homes. It means helping them to grow and reach their full potential rather than hindering them because we are afraid that they might outshine us. And it means faithfully doing that for the rest of our lives.

Do you want your wife to willingly submit to your leadership? Love her. If you try to lead her without loving her, she will rebel against your leadership for leadership without love is tyranny. And it will produce bitter feelings. That's what the second part of this verse is talking about – bitterness. Don’t do any unloving thing out of bitterness toward your wife for some perception of yours that she is not living up to your expectations because that will create bitterness in her.

Guys, you don't want your wives bitter against you. You never know when she might be your last hope.

Story:

The doctor spoke with great care and concern to the woman in his office. He said, "I have conducted a thorough exam on your husband, and I'm afraid that I have some bad news. Your husband is in terrible shape. He has only one hope. If you do not follow my exact instructions, you’re husband is going to die. Every morning when he wakes up, fix him a hot breakfast, and make sure that he gets off to work with a smile on his face. When he comes home for lunch, keep all your problems to yourself so that he won’t be discouraged or down. Have dinner on the table when he gets home each day. Make sure that the house is spotless, so that he can just relax. And when bedtime comes, if he is feeling romantic, make sure that you never refuse him but fulfill his every desire. "On the way home, the husband turned to his wife and said, "So, what did the doctor have to say?" To which she replied, "He said you’re going to die."

That wife was unwilling to meet her husband’s need probably because he had been unwilling to meet her needs. Bitterness comes from unfulfilled needs. Your wife has a need for you to be a leader and a lover.

  • As a parent, he is an instructor and an encourager. (verses. 20,21)
  • All of us who are parents know how becoming a parent radically changed our lives, and also how it radically enriched our lives. It has given us more laughter and more memories than any other experience in life possibly could. One father told of a memory that fell into that "Years from now, we’ll laugh about this category." As ham sandwiches go, it was perfection. A thick slab of ham, a fresh bun, crisp lettuce and plenty of expensive, light brown, gourmet mustard. The corners of my jaw were aching in anticipation; I carried it to the picnic table in our backyard, picked it up with both hands but was stopped by my wife suddenly at my side. "Hold Johnny, (our six-week-old son), while I get my sandwich," she said. I had him balanced between my left elbow and shoulder and was reaching again for the ham sandwich when I noticed a streak of mustard on my fingers. I love mustard. And I had no napkin. So I licked it off. It was NOT mustard.

    No man ever put a baby down faster. It was the first and only time I have sprinted with my tongue protruding. With a washcloth in each hand I did the sort of routine shoeshine guys do, only I did it on my tongue. Later my wife said, "Now you know why they call that mustard ’Poupon.’ Not only do our children create memories for us, but we create memories for them. We do it in two categories.

    a. Instructor (vs. 20)

    Children are not naturally going to obey their parents. We have a responsibility to teach our children and to train them how to become responsible adults. One pastor when commenting on the state of today’s families said this: "We train our dogs and don't train our kids. Then we tie up the dogs at night and let the kids run wild." But like the leadership of the home, we fathers have abdicated our role as teacher and handed it off to our wives, school teachers, and churches. There was a day when the boys of the family would spend virtually all their waking hours with their dad. They thought that they were learning how to take care of the farm, but in reality, they were learning what it means to be a man.

    Two of the biggest reasons why we don't take time to instruct our children are time and energy and the lack of both.

    Story:

    A father had three very active boys. One summer evening, he was playing cops and robbers in the back yard after dinner. One of the boys "shot" his father and yelled, "Bang! You're dead!" He slumped to the ground and when he didn't get up right away, a neighbor ran over to see if he had been hurt in the fall. When the neighbor bent over, the overworked father opened one eye and said, "Shhh. Don't give me away. It's the only chance I've had to rest all day."

    Do you ever feel like that? It takes time and energy to instruct your children, but they are well worth the investment, and you will reap the benefit when you see the men that you have helped to raise. Some fathers don’t instruct because they have already convinced themselves that their children wouldn’t listen anyway. You may be right that they turn a deaf ear to you at some times of their lives, but they will one day realize that what you had to say was worth listening to.

    Story:

    Mark Twain had this to say of the instruction that he received from his father: "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

    You can come up with all kinds of excuses for why you can't instruct your children – no time and energy, no interest on their part or maybe you feel like you have nothing to teach them. But you do. You have so much that they need to know.

    Ephesians 6:4 says, "but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord".

    b. Encourager (vs. 21)

    How you teach is just as important as what you teach. God warns fathers against turning their children against them in the process of trying to teach them.
    There are countless ways that you can turn your kids against you. You can do it by ignoring them – never having time for them, never getting involved in their lives and never inviting them to be a part of your life. You can indulge them and give them everything that they want rather than doing the hard task of saying "no" to them. You can insult them and make sure that their efforts never reach the level of your expectations that are set unrealistically high. And you can over-insulate them against the world, over protect them – so much so that they feel like they can never earn your trust. If you do that, your children will "begin to despair and may believe that how they behave is irrelevant." They figure that since good behavior doesn’t get them greater freedoms, they might as well have fun being bad. They give up. They quit trying to please you. They figure that you are never going to let them grow up. They become discouraged.

    Your job as a parent is to encourage them. It’s tough to encourage kids and teach them at the same time especially when you’re trying to teach them something new. They’re not going to do it the way that you want them to the first time. You have high expectations. The temptation to yell at them and degrade them for their feeble attempt is high.
    So how do you teach them? Think of something that you want your children to learn to do. There are four steps to training them to do that job.

    First, you do the job while they watch as you explain.

    Second, you do the job together with your children.

    Third, they do the job while you watch. Make sure that you encourage them as they do it rather than criticizing them.

    Fourth, let them do the job. Evaluate their work and reward them for whatever they did well even if they didn't do the whole job the way that you wanted it done.
    If your children feel like there is no chance of meeting your expectations or gaining your attention and approval, then they will stop trying. Train them, notice them, encourage them so that their memories of you will be good ones.

  • As an employee, he is a servant and a master. (verses. 22-25 & 4:1)
  • This role that fathers fulfill comes last in God's standard of priorities even though in our lives, it often comes first. The reason that this one comes last is because your performance here is a reflection of how well you do in the other two categories. It's almost impossible to function well in the workplace when you are having problems with your kids. And how can you be a good parent when your marriage is on the rocks? Get your priorities right. You were a husband before you were a dad, and you will be a dad long after you have changed jobs or retired.

     

    Story: At a commencement address that Barbara Bush gave in 1994, she said these words: "As important as your obligation as a doctor, a lawyer or a business leader may be, your human connections with your spouse, your children and your friends are the most important investment you will ever make. At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal, but you will regret time not spent with your spouse, your children or your friends."

    a. Servant (verses. 22-25)

    Always do your best. Don't just do the minimum that will get you by. The name Stradivarius is synonymous with fine violins. This is true because Antonio Stradivarius insisted that no instrument constructed in his shop be sold until it was as near perfection as human care and skill could make it. Stradivarius said, "God needs violins to send His music into the world, and if any violins are defective God's music will be spoiled." His work philosophy was summed up in one sentence: "Other men will make other violins, but no man shall make a better one."

    When I was in college, the chancellor of the school told us over and over again, "If it's Christian, it ought to be better." He challenged us to be the best in whatever field we went into. Doing our best as Christians brings glory to the title Christian and therefore, it brings glory to the name of Christ. The Lord is your actual employer. That means that even when your earthly boss isn’t watching, the Lord still is. It also means that no matter how meaningless or boring or unspiritual your job may seem, doing your best at it is still an act of worship toward God.

    Story: Two days before John Ashcroft who is now our attorney general was to be sworn in as a U.S. Senator, his father, J. Robert Ashcroft lay on his bed barely clinging to life. "As family and friends gathered in Washington for a small reception, Ashcroft Sr. asked his son to play the piano while everyone sang, 'We Are Standing On Holy Ground.’ After the song, the frail old man spoke some powerful words: 'John, I want you to know that even Washington can be holy ground. Wherever you hear the voice of God, that ground is sanctified. It’s a place where God can call you to the highest and best.' "Wherever we are in our vocation, if Jesus is Lord of our lives, that place is a holy place of service for Him"

    Your real paycheck will come from the Lord. The Lord is always fair. The lazy worker who never seems to get punished by the boss but always seems to get by with shoddy work will get what he deserves. And the measly pay that you receive now for the work that you do is nothing in comparison with the inheritance that you will receive from Jesus both because you are God’s child and because you have served Him well.

    b. Master (4:1)

    A few of you fathers have people that work under you. All of you fathers have children that you command every day. A simple word of advice. Treat those under your authority as you would have the Lord treat you.

     

    CONCLUSION
    A husband who is a leader and a lover. A parent who is an instructor and encourager. An employee who is a faithful servant and a fair manager. That's why we need dads.

    With all the expectations that are placed on you by your families and by God, the job of being a father can be overwhelming. Let's boil your responsibility down a little bit. Your children are going to grow up to be just like you. The best way to make sure that your children becoming like you is a good thing, is as you make it your goal to become more like Jesus.
    Story: A humble, consecrated pastor had a young son who had become very ill. After the boy had undergone an exhaustive series of tests, the father was told the shocking news that his son had a terminal illness. The youngster had accepted Christ as his Savior, so the minister knew that death would usher him into Glory; but he wondered how to inform one in the bloom of youth that he soon would die. After earnestly seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit, he went with a heavy heart through the hospital ward to the boy’s bedside. First he read a passage of Scripture and had a time of prayer with his dear child. Then he gently told him that the doctors could promise him only a few more days to live. "Are you afraid to meet Jesus, my boy?" asked his devout father. Blinking away a few tears, the little fellow said bravely, "No, Dad, not if He’s like you!"

    Dads, when your children look into your face, do they see Jesus? Do they see someone that they want to be like? Or do they see anger, disappointment and distraction? You can change. You can become like your Savior so that your children will desire to become just like you.