Raising godly children is a complex task requiring the best efforts of both parents. Men and women are given different attributes, preferences, and gifts that are intended to display part of the picture of God to their children. Together dad and mom are to present a full-orbed picture of our loving, nurturing, holy, and just Creator, even though they will do so imperfectly.
In the three previous posts on biblical fathering, using Paul’s instructions to fathers in Ephesians 6:4, we discussed how fathers are to be fair (“do not provoke your children to anger”), flexible (“but bring them up”), and firm (“in the discipline and instruction”). The end of the sentence “of the Lord” shows the need for fathers to be forthright—the last attribute of a biblical father I want to draw out of this verse.
There are three basic approaches that most fathers use—knowingly or not—in raising their children. The authoritarian style demands unquestioning obedience and often a literal “hands-on” approach to discipline. The permissive style is where anything goes, within reason of course, and usually takes a hands-off approach. The third and, I suggest, biblical approach is the authoritative style where obedience is expected for clearly stated reasons with the father consistently modeling the desired behavior.
Biblical fathering Is authoritative, not authoritarian.
Instead of the authoritarian father who says, “do as I say, not as I do,” or the permissive father who says, “do what you want as long as you don’t bother me,” the authoritative father says, “do as I say and as I do.” He is confident in setting the example for his children because he lives in a forthright manner as he works to conform his life to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).
The father who exercises his authority in the family in a godly manner and who lives in consistent obedience to God’s commands will accomplish his parenting responsibilities in a forthright and consistent manner. It is said that Christianity is as much caught as taught, so fathers who follow this pattern are indeed raising their children in the instruction “of the Lord” and are then obedient to the commands found in this verse.