Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
As I’ve entered into fatherhood, perhaps the most encouraging thing has been the recollection of the small things my parents did that influenced and shaped my love and faith in the Lord Jesus. Recently, as I was tucking my daughter into bed, I remembered when my parents used to snuggle me at bedtime and they would sing one of those simple praise choruses that were popular in the early 90s:
In my life, Lord, be glorified, be glorified.
In my life, Lord, be glorified today.
Yes, very simple, but as I sang it to my daughter and told her that her Grandma & Grandpa used to sing it to her Dadda, I was reminded that it is those small daily investments of surrounding our children with simple Gospel truths that will become a rich legacy of covenant faithfulness.
Sure, we can always do more in teaching our children to love and follow Jesus, but in my experience it was the small things that have lingered with me and shaped me and catechized me to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. It is my mom assigning me to read a children’s version of a Jim Elliot biography, it was my dad giving me the MacArthur Study Bible for Christmas when I was twelve and then reading through it over that next year with me (the first time I read through the whole Bible), it was my mom telling me whenever I hung out with my friends to have “clean hands and a pure heart”, it was those nightly Bible readings, and weekly worship services which have served to fill my childhood with earnest and faithful obedience to Christ.
After all, especially you fathers, the most important thing you will do is teach your children, or if you abdicate that responsibility, someone else will be happy to catechize them in the ways of the devils. The little chorus my parents often sang to me at bedtime summarizes the prayer we should teach our children to pray, and exemplify to them by our example how they should live: “In my life, Lord, be glorified”. This is just another way of teaching that great maxim: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. These little ones whom God has entrusted to us are the only lasting investment; all the treasures, fame and influence we can acquire will not compare to the joy of raising wise and faithful sons and daughters (Pro. 15:20). So train up those children, by making daily deposits of truth, and believing these things for yourself; which you ought to be doing anyway that you may honor thy father and mother.