Men as Fathers
About the Guest
Dads are the burden bearers of the household. Pastor Matt Chandler talks to men about the responsibilities they bear as fathers. Hear him explain why fathers shouldn't provoke their children to anger, and how the discipline of the children squarely falls on the father's shoulders.
Matt ChandlerMatt Chandler is the lead pastor of The Village Church, a multi-campus church in the Dallas metroplex of over 10,000 people. His sermons are among the topselling (free) podcasts on itunes and he speaks at conferences worldwide. Prior to accepting the pastorate at The Village, Matt had a vibrant itinerant ministry for over ten years where he spoke to hundreds of thousands of people in America and abroad about the glory of God and beauty of Jesus. He lives in Texas with his wife, Lauren, and their...more
Pastor Matt Chandler talks to men about the responsibilities they bear as fathers.
Men as Fathers
Bob: If you’re a dad, your children will pay attention to the things that you tell them. But what they pay even more attention to is what you do. If the two don’t match up, you have problems. Here’s Pastor Matt Chandler.
Matt: Kids, at a very early age, are born with this hypocrisy meter; and I’m not even speaking religiously. Please don’t hear hypocrisy as a religious reference—it’s not. My daughter is already like: “Why do you get two popsicles? I thought too many popsicles make you sick.” [Laughter] What do you even say to that? You’re just like, “Here’s another popsicle; alright?” What do you do?—I just felt cornered; alright? Or when we put her to bed at eight: “You need your rest / you need your sleep. We don’t want you to be cranky tomorrow.” So, “When are you going to bed?” “Well, don’t worry about me—I’m the daddy.” “But you said…” “I know what I said! We’re different—we’re different. Old people don’t need as much sleep; alright?”
And you’re like: “Is that even true? Did I just lie to my kid, unbeknownst to me?! Do we need less sleep?”—Google; alright? [Laughter]
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, October 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear today from Pastor Matt Chandler about what a dad’s top priorities ought to be. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. Do your children make a big deal out of Father’s Day? Do they usually acknowledge it and [Laughter]—
Dennis: Yes. Sure—just like Mother’s Day.
Bob: So they pretty much ignore it? Is what you’re saying?
Bob: You get a phone call.
Dennis: I hear from them; and I hear from them, all year long. I mean, our kids have done a good job of honoring me, as a dad.
I don’t lack for any feelings of respect by them, as adults now. In fact, talking about fathers, Bob, it reminds me of the photographer Anne Geddes. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of her work.
Bob: With the kids in the flower pots and stuff.
Dennis: Yes, I don’t know how she gets away with putting kids in these different containers and, then, putting flowers in their hair and stuff and taking pictures of them. But she should know a little bit about fathers because she’s taken so many children’s pictures. She said, “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” To be a dad, in the truest sense of the word, a man needs to be equipped as a father.
I’ll never forget—at one of our Weekend to Remember® conferences, a man came up to me on Sunday morning, right before lunch and said, “I just wanted to tell you—this weekend, I became a father at the conference.” I said, “Your wife had a baby?” He said, “No.” I thought, “Do they make—do they make pregnancy tests like that?”
He said: “No, no, no, no; none of that.” He said, “I finally found out what it means to be a father—
Dennis: —“and I just wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’” You know what, Bob? I want to say, “Thank you,” to all the listeners who supported and gave financially to keep FamilyLife Today on the air and to say to FamilyLife: “Keep going. Keep helping men become fathers and truly be equipped as fathers.”
Bob: We do want to say: “Thanks. We do appreciate your financial support and your partnership with us.” We especially want to say, “Thank you,” to our Legacy Partners—those of you who support the ministry on a monthly basis. We are grateful for your partnership with us.
And today, we are going to hear a message from Matt Chandler, who is the pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. Matt is one of the guys—when we sat down to do the video series for men—the Stepping Up™ video series—and we wanted to talk to guys about “What does the Bible have to say about authentic, biblical masculinity?”—
—Matt’s one of the guys we went and talked to because he has a handle on this. We’ve got a segment in the Stepping Up series that features Matt and his wife, Lauren, talking about a huge challenge they’ve been through in their marriage and in their family.
This message we are going to hear today from Matt is Part Two of a message that is all about helping dads become more effective as fathers. Here is Pastor Matt Chandler.
Matt: We started out defining what manhood is—defining masculinity. We said that God created men and women equal yet very distinct. Now, I want to move on; and I want to talk about men, as fathers. It’s not complex—now, it’s not easy—but it’s not complex.
Let’s look at Ephesians 6. We’ll pick it up in verse 1: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (for this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘…that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’”
Let me point out a couple of things. The Bible, over and over again, is going to line out how God created the universe to operate rhythmically. You have it happening here because the progression of what happens with children is—children start out simply obeying. If you grow them and pour into them, it ends in honor.
But I want to point out something really interesting to you. He starts by addressing the children—and he says to them, “Obey your”—who?—“parents”—husband and wife. Then, he moves on and says, “Honor your mother and father.” Once again, he addresses both parents. When he’s talking to the children, he addresses the parents as a singular unit. But, when he moves on and begins to address the home, what’s the first word in verse 4?—“Fathers.”
So, I’ll continue to push that men do not have the sole responsibility in the home—
—but the leading one. I’ll continue to say that—although Lauren, my wife, has some responsibility in the rearing of our children / in the ordering of our home—if Jesus knocks on the door and she answers, He’ll go, “Good morning, Lauren, where’s Matt?” And He’s not asking where I am because He needs to know; alright.
It’s a very interesting, right-out-of-the-gate command: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to”—what?—“anger.” Of all the things—alright, there are only two commands here / that’s it—to fathers—two commands. Of all the commands that you can unpack / of all the things to command a father to do, why, right out of the gate, is it, “Hey, don’t provoke your children to anger”? Let me try to explain because I think this is so big.
Wherever you have an authority that is intrinsically broken, itself—which all of us are because it’s a fallen world—so, what I mean by that is—every man in here / every father in here—
—we’ve got places of insecurity in our soul. We get tired. We can get to that place where we have a short fuse. God knows, if we feel disrespected, someone has to die; right?
So, you have a man who has those frailties. Then, you have a sinful subordinate underneath the sinful authority. Well, when those two things collide—subordinate and authority—both of them have sinful tendencies. The illegitimate child that’s born out of that is anger—is anger. So, what he’s saying here is: “Fathers, be careful not to provoke them to more anger.” Let me tell you why this is so huge.
It’s so huge because anger—more than any other emotion—completely trumps and removes your ability to feel or think rationally or sanely about anything. If you’ll think back on your life to some of the dumbest stuff that’s ever come out of your mouth—
—I would guarantee you that it came out when you were angry.
If I can make this as simple as I can, it’s going: “Dad, don’t poke your kids with a stick. Don’t do that!” Listen, I’m in no way trying to remove your authority—your call to discipline or your command to preach, teach, and work truth out in your home. I’m not saying: “Don’t make your kids angry.” I’m saying: “Avoid avoidable anger.” Anger is unbelievably devastating to the human soul—unbelievably devastating. So, it says the fathers have a responsibility to not provoke this in their children.
What are some ways that we battle this? I’m going to be real careful about giving you: “This is what you should do,”—what I more want to do is put an umbrella over you and let you work it out with your family / let you go sit down with your wife and say, “How do we do this?”
But let me tell you some things that I just don’t think you can argue—you can’t scream at your kids.
I mean, do you think they listen more when you’re screaming at the top of your lungs and they’re screaming back at you? I’m guessing that that’s not an intelligent/sane conversation.
I think more and more and more—fathers should be going into their children’s bedrooms at night, before they go to bed, after the big explosion and go: “I handled that wrong. Now, what you did was not right, and it was not excusable; but I handled it wrong. I need to ask for your forgiveness. Do you forgive me?”
Let’s look at what he says next. What he says next is what we figure he would say—“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and the instruction of the Lord.” Now, the Bible doesn’t leave us hanging here. It’s really going to get into some detail about how we discipline and train our children in the instruction of the Lord.
Some of it will sting, but let’s go over to Psalm 78. It’s a great text: “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching. Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
“I will open my mouth in a parable or a story; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known that our fathers have told us.” Verse 4 is where we’re going to get into these umbrella statements; alright? “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generations the glorious deeds of the Lord and His might and the wonders that He has done.”
Now, I love this text because it’s about as umbrella as it gets. Here’s what it is saying: “It is our job to continually take everything that is good / everything that is right / everything that is enjoyable / everything that is lovely and bring it back, for our children, to its place of origin. We try to do that with everything—anything that is good, anything that is right, anything that is spectacular—God’s going to get the credit for that. Even difficult times, He’s given credit for: “How much does He love us that He would let us grow and learn through this?”
Our hope is that, if you ask our kids, 20 or 30 years from now, “Tell me about your home, growing up”—whether they believe or not because we can’t control that—what we want is our kids to say: “God was central. God was who he loved. He gave God credit for everything—I mean, I couldn’t eat a piece of chocolate / I couldn’t play in the pool / I couldn’t...—without my dad going, ‘How amazing is God that He gave us waterslides!’” [Laughter]
Look at verse 5. It’s going to be a reference to the Torah or the Old Testament: “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel which He commanded our fathers to teach their children that the next generation might know Him.” This is a reference to the Torah—or the first five books of the Old Testament. In the new covenant—where we find ourselves now—this would be a reference to the Scriptures in the home—that the Scriptures should be known, that they should be taught, that they should be embraced in our home—as God’s self-disclosure of Himself.
Now, not only should the Scriptures be known, but the command there is to teach them. Now, I want to be really careful here because I don’t think this means that you’ve got to sit your kid down and go: “This word, in Hebrew, is ahava. The root meaning…”—I don’t think that’s the kind of teaching that needs to occur. I think (a) the Scriptures must be known and embraced in the home and that you can do things that supplement you not being a teacher—that feels like you can engage your children. In fact, what we want to be here, at The Village, is a supplement to that.
But let me speak to two things—both of them, I think, will probably create seats. Kids, at a very early age, are born with this hypocrisy meter; and I’m not even speaking religiously. Please don’t hear hypocrisy as a religious reference—it’s not. My daughter is already like: “Why do you get two popsicles? I don’t get two popsicles.
“I thought too many popsicles make you sick—because I had the red one, and you have the purple one. And you have a green one now, and purple is not green. I thought that it would make you sick.” [Laughter] What do you even say to that? You’re just like, “Here’s another popsicle; alright?” [Laughter] I mean, what do you do? I just felt cornered; alright.
Or when we put her to bed at eight: “You need your rest / you need your sleep. We don’t want you to be cranky tomorrow.” So, “When are you going to bed?” “Well, don’t worry about me. I’m the daddy.” “But you said…” “I know what I said! We’re different—we’re different. Old people don’t need as much sleep; alright?” And you’re like: “Is that even true? Did I just lie to my kid, unbeknownst to me?! Do we need less sleep?”—Google; alright. [Laughter] Yes, they pick it up. “Make your bed.” “Well, I was just downstairs, and who is making your bed?” [Laughter]
What I’m saying is this: “This is an impossible task if you’re not willing to submit to God yourself.” You can put the Ten Commandments up in your home / you can know the moral things to say—“Don’t do this,” “Don’t do that,” “Don’t do this,”—but if you’re not in glad submission to God yourself, nothing happens. This is one of those points—I just want to continually say: “We’re not going to be perfect. We are going to blow it. We are going to be hypocrites. We are going to have seasons that are difficult for us. We are, but the grace of God covers those things if we will continue to press in.” So, that’s number one. I think you have to be in glad submission yourself, or there’s no way you can do this.
Here’s the second thing—I think, you have to relish the role. Here’s what I mean by that: On the way home from work / specifically, long days—I have young children / a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old—on the way home, I have to, in my mind, prepare myself for walking in our front door because, if I’m not careful, I’ll go:
“Man, I just worked a long day. I just want to lie on the couch. I want to watch SportsCenter and drink a Coke. [Laughter] That’s what I want to do tonight. I just want to do that, and I want to enjoy that.” Then, I’m going to walk in the door; and what’s going to happen? I’ve got two kids—they are going to run up. They’re going to want to play. Lauren is going to want to tell me about her day; and I’ve had, in my mind,—is this not the truth? All frustration is birthed out of unmet expectation.
So, I’ve got to come home, going: “The job’s not done today—job’s not done! I’ve got about three-and-a-half more hours. It’s not over—three-and-a-half more hours to love, to shape, to pour into, to speak, to give out of myself—three-and-a-half more hours.” If our mind hasn’t shifted like that, then, our three-and-a-half hours with our children and our wife are more often than not going to be combative.
So, I try to do—on the way home, I am going to go: “When I get home, the kids are going to be hopped up on sugar, Lauren will be duck taped in a closet, and the house will be on fire.” [Laughter] Alright?
So that, when I get in—I’m like: “Nothing is on fire,”—awesome! And I free Lauren; and we play with the kids, alright, for like an hour-and-a-half / two hours. [Laughter]
But this has to be—we have to relish our role. We have to say, “Thank You, God, that You gave me babies to pour into for such a short period of time—that I might pour into, love, enjoy, communicate, walk with.” That will transcend the Cowboy’s season—I promise you. So, you have to attack it like that—you have to walk in the door, knowing that.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to a message today from Pastor Matt Chandler in the Dallas area. It does help to pull back and go: “Little perspective on this assignment I’ve been given by God. I need to roll up my sleeves and do what He’s called me to do.”
Dennis: And your kids are watching.
I received an email here, in the past week, from a friend of FamilyLife. In fact, it was a wife who wrote—who said: “We went to your conference almost 20 years ago. And at the conference, my husband wrote me a love letter; and I’d kept that note in my billfold all these years. Well, the other day,” she said, “my 15-year-old daughter found the note, and started reading it, and shared it with her 13-year-old brother.” She said, “You have to know how gratifying it was to watch them relish these words of lavish love that my husband had expressed to me in this note, some 20 years ago.” And she said, “It was so delightful. Thank you for your ministry at the Weekend to Remember.”
You know what guys? If you haven’t taken your wife to a Weekend to Remember, there would be no greater act of worship or of service to her and your family than to do just that—
—and get away sometime this fall—and to make it a special getaway for just the two of you. Then, maybe—maybe a decade or two later on, maybe your kids will find that love note.
Bob: I know there are probably a lot of our listeners, going: “There is no way we can do it this fall. I mean, the calendar is booked.” That’s the case at our house, at least; but you can start thinking, now, about the spring and plan to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway Valentine’s weekend. You are going to be speaking in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I’m going to be at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And then, we’ve got 50 or 60 events going on throughout the spring.
So, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER.” That will take you to where you can get information about the Weekend to Remember—and find out when an event is happening in a city near where you live or a city you would like to travel to—and join us for a weekend getaway that’s good for your marriage—the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway.
And then, we’ve got another challenge for you for the spring.
Our team has decided to rename the first month of the year. They want to start calling it “Manuary” instead of January because they think it’s a good time for men to step up and to make some resolutions—get together with some other guys and go through FamilyLife’s ten-part video series for men called Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. This is something you can do with a small group of guys—you can do it with guys at your church. You can do it in whatever setting—fathers and teenage sons have been doing it together.
We’ve had more than a 100,000 guys go through the material already. It’s getting rave reviews. It’s got people like Matt Chandler, and Crawford Loritts, and Voddie Baucham, and Joshua Harris, and Stu Weber, and Robert Lewis, and Dennis Rainey, and others who contribute to the content you’ll go through. We’re hoping that, in “Manuary,” we can see another 50,000 guys get engaged in the Stepping Up content.
So, what we are asking you to do is—be a leader. Think of ten guys you know that you could take through this material. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. If you order manuals for those guys—and they can pay you back—but you order the manuals for those guys, and we’ll send you the DVDs for free. The offer is good this month. So, if you want to take advantage of this, you need to go, right now, to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER”; and then, click the link for Stepping Up. All the information you need is right there. We hope you will rally some guys together in the month of “Manuary” and kick off the new year with the Stepping Up video series.
And just before we wrap things up today, I want to take a minute and say, “Thank you,” to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. Your financial contributions are what keep this program on this station and on our network of stations, all across the country. Your partnership is essential to everything that God is doing through this ministry.
Dennis: And I just want to add my voice to Bob’s. Could I say, “Thank you,” as well? Thanks for standing with us because your giving keeps FamilyLife Today on this station and keeps messages like this coming your way to equip you and encourage you in a culture that, frankly, is out to destroy your marriage, your family, and your legacy.
Bob: Well, and right now, if a listener can help with a donation, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending them something your wife has been working on. It’s a chalkboard that is designed to be hung in your home. It’s in the shape of a house. At the top of it, it says, “In this home we give thanks for” and, then, you can write, in chalk, whatever you’d like to give thanks for in your home and change it every day. Ask the kids, “What do you want to write on the chalkboard today?”
It’s a part of the Ever Thine Home® collection that Barbara Rainey has been developing. The chalkboard is our gift to you when you make a donation, this month, to help support the ministry. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
Click the button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I Care.” You can make an online donation and receive the chalkboard. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY; make a donation over the phone. Ask for the chalkboard when you do that. Or you can request the chalkboard when you mail a donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. Our zip code is 72223.
Now, as Matt Chandler was talking today, Dennis, about men embracing their role as a father, I was thinking about a guy who came to me, a number of years ago, and said: “I don’t think I can be the kind of father I need to be because of the emotional deficits I have in my own life. I have so many issues of my own I don’t think I can really be the kind of dad I ought to be.” How would you respond to a guy like that?
Dennis: Well, I think Matt’s message today is a great exhortation from Scripture: Stand firm in the faith. Act like men.”
Ultimately, man up, and submit, and surrender to Jesus Christ. But you know what? Matt also has an answer to your question, Bob. Let’s hear how he answered it in his message.
Matt: Walk in and just embrace it: “This is my role.” And I know—listen and let me speak to this—this is what I think will create seats. I think you can call your wife, at three in the afternoon, and go: “This has been a brutal, brutal, brutal day. When I get home tonight, can I just lay down on the couch for an hour or so? Can you help me with that?” I think you can make the call and go: “Listen, this game is on; and I want this, Baby! [Laughter] Please, just tonight!—just tonight.”
But here’s what I’ve found—if you’ll be who God’s asked you to be in your home most of the other time, your wife would gladly love for you to do those things. She would want to give you those things. But what normally happens is—you just take it all the time and don’t fill your role. Then, one night, you really want that thing; but it’s the one night she really needs a break too.
You have this cataclysmic blowup, where you feel disrespected because you’ve been a little boy, who’s married with children, and your wife finally called you on it. Yes. So, I think you have to relish the role, men—I think you have to relish it.
I mean, honestly, who gets to be a hero? Well, daddies do. Daddies get to be heroes—you should relish that. You shouldn’t let a day escape you. I think we forget that we only get to do this once. We’ve got to teach these things—but not just with your mouth—you have to teach them with your life.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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