TO PASS ON YOUR FAITH
Recently in my study and reading, I came across some fascinating research done on this topic: Families and Faith: How religion is passed down and across generations.
Here is a bit of background on this extensive project. In 1969, shortly after being hired at U.S.C., Professor Bengtson began a study of 350 families, whom he interviewed regularly until 2008. In some families, he interviewed four generations. In all, his respondents were born in years spanning 1878 to 1989.
Here is one of the most compelling discoveries of his extensive research.
In general, however, “fervent faith cannot compensate for a distant dad.” Over and over in interviews, Professor Bengtson said, he found that “a father who is an exemplar, a pillar of the church, but doesn’t provide warmth and affirmation to his kid does not have kids who follow him in his faith. A crucial factor in whether a child keeps the faith is the father’s warmth; parental piety cannot make up for a devout but distant dad.”
Fathers, it is critically important that you do not miss this point. What you exude as a father towards your children makes all the difference in the world. Do you exude emotional warmth to your children? Do you exude and express affirmation and encouragement to your children? Do you exude and express enthusiastic love for your children? Do you display emotive affection to your children? Do you smile often at your children?
Are you teaching the right beliefs and practices but have no real emotional bond with your children? This will all be for nothing if your child does not feel close to you, loved or deeply valued by you.
One of my fondest memories of my Dad, which was especially true when he was earnestly following the Lord, was his tremendous warmth, affection, and enthusiasm for me, for his kids. My dad really was so affectionate, so affirming and encouraging. He was in my eyes, everything a father should be to this young boy. Even after my father turned away from his faith, which remained so the rest of his life, the early years with my father left a deep impression on my life. I am extremely grateful for it.
I urge you dads, treat this matter with the utmost seriousness, as it makes all the difference in the world.
It is a vital component of what it means to bring your children up in the nurture and training of the Lord, and to nourish them.
May God give you incredible grace and determination to excel in this crucial aspect of your fathering.
Never forget this is God!!
Zephaniah 3:17 NASB
The Lord your God is in your midst,
A warrior who saves!
He will exult over you with joy!
He will renew you in his love!
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy!
Notice God is a fierce, warrior Father who saves! But also, a Father full of emotive, enthusiastic love, who renews us in His love and warm embrace. He finds great joy in you. Now be that same way with your children!!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling