Parenting Advice From an Imperfect, 30 Year Old Dad?

Posted: February 16, 2010 in Uncategorized

They Call Us “Daddy”

While my title at Trinity Baptist Church is Pastor to Families with Students, my title to my boys, Will (3) and Jackson (1), is “Daddy.”  I love the sound of pitter pattering feet, the feel of my baby’s face squished against my neck and the sight of little boys’ eyes lighting up when I come home from a long day’s work. Bro. Jeff Summers and his wife, Carol Ann, have 3 beautiful children, Zach (15), Cob (14), and Katie Jo (10). I have the privilege of being Student Pastor to his two boys, and I see how his children love their Daddy. While I believe that Jeff is one of the best children’s pastors in America, he’s even a better father.  We both love what we do professionally, but one of the most important roles that God has given us and one that we cherish most is the privilege of being parents. Before we are pastors to anyone’s family or anyone else’s children, Bro. Jeff and I are first and foremost fathers and husbands in our own homes. If we neglect to lead there, our ministries are a joke.  It is interesting to note that in the passages of Scripture that lay out the qualifications for being a pastor, Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7, both include descriptions of a man who leads his family well.

1 Tim. 3:4-5 describes a pastor as (among other things):

“4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);”

            Pretty clear, huh? We cannot be pastors that call our parents and church households to do something that we are not doing ourselves.  We must be disciplining, training, and teaching our own children. If we are not attempting to lead our family in worship, something is wrong. If I am not leading my wife spiritually, how can I call other husbands to do so? We are striving to do this with you. We must lead our own households before we lead, encourage, and equip you in this endeavor. Please know that we do not seek to equip you as pastors/parents with all of the answers, nor are we perfect in our parental leadership. However, by the grace of God, we are trying to obey the Scriptural mandate to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and claiming grace where we fail. Therefore, one of the most important questions that can be asked of us as we lead TBC in this ministry is:

  •  By what authority do we attempt to lead families in the discipleship of their children?

Not from our Experience

This is a very fair question to two pastors that are imperfect fathers and to a student pastor that has never raised a teen.  Praise the Lord for all of us that Bro. Jeff is raising three children, two of which are teens. He is a great Dad and faithfully has led his family for years. I am a relatively new dad of two toddlers, attempting to raise boys.  While we have varying degrees of experience, neither of us has perfected parenting or family discipleship. Likewise, neither of us has experienced every situation or challenge of parenting. While our experience is not unimportant, it is not our ultimate authority.

 Not from our Perfection

We are also learning to lead our families. We understand the highs and lows of parenthood.  We can empathize with the parents that come in exhausted from work and the thought of a family devotion seems a bit daunting. Jeff and I understand what it feels like to struggle with how to best discipline a disobedient child. We can relate if you have a desire to disciple your children, but you don’t know where to begin.  Neither of us, our families or our children are perfect. We are two Dads, with amazing, godly wives that are trying to be obedient to Scripture and lead our families.

Our Ultimate Authority 

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul writes:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In 2 Peter 1:3, we see that through our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Word, we have been given everything that we need for life and godliness. A statement that I have heard said that always makes me want to cringe is “we were given children, but they didn’t come with instruction manuals.” I know what people mean when they say that, but it is flawed.  If you are a follower of Christ and believe that the Word of God is your ultimate authority and guide, then God has given you an instruction manual on how to raise your children.  Our goal as Pastors is to help you mine the riches of Scripture and to challenge you to apply the truths of His Word to your family dynamic.  We are calling you to take personal responsibility for the leadership of your family and the discipleship of your children, but we are going to encourage and equip you as you seek to do this.  Bro. Jeff and I do not lead this ministry because of our perfection as fathers or merely by our experience, we do so on the authority of God’s Word.

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