There are no fashion items or tech-toys on this list. That list is a moving target, constantly changing, being outdated and updated. This list is timeless and essential because it’s compiled by our Heavenly Father who wants to give good gifts to his children. Here it is:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NIV)
WHAT DOES EVERY CHILD NEED?
1. A Dad Who Loves God Completely
Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”When Jesus was asked to identify the greatest commandment in Mark 12:28-30, he cited this mandate in Deuteronomy and added “mind” to the list. Kids need a dad who loves God with all his heart having an emotional connection and expression of his devotion to God. A dad who loves God with all his soul, exhibiting a willful expression and application. A dad who loves God with all his mind, mentally submitting his thoughts to God. A dad who loves God with all his strength, physically practicing his devotion to God and disciplining his body for the purpose of godliness. This is the total package! It’s first on the list because everything else flows from it. Everything about this dad is calibrated to loving God completely.
2. A Dad Who Loves God's Word Wholeheartedly
Deuteronomy 6:6 says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” A dad who loves God completely will love God’s Word wholeheartedly. It’s integrated into his life, and he is transformed by it. This dad would say, like David in Psalm 119:72 (NIV), “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.” This dad treasures God’s Word.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 (NIV), “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If you want to know if you love God’s Word wholeheartedly just locate your treasure. Our affections lie where our investments lie. What we treasure will either be an asset or a liability to our leadership. Treasuring God’s Word and loving it wholeheartedly produces satisfying fruit in our own lives and collateral blessings for our children.
3. A Dad Who Leads His Children Intentionally
Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “Impress them on your children.” This is a dad who accepts responsibility to lead and train his children. He doesn’t defer to his wife, the school, or the church. He doesn’t stand by passively. He initiates. He steps into the hard things and makes an impression with God’s truth that he treasures in his heart.
As we lead our children intentionally, we must know the difference in impressing and oppressing. Ephesians 6:4 (NIV) says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Don’t provoke them to anger. Legalistic leadership is oppressive. It’s demotivating and disheartening.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The implication of the original Hebrew text is to train them up “according to their bent.” A wise father studies his children to identify how God has wired them. If you have two or three children you have probably observed that each one is “bent” differently. Our mission is to help them live under God’s will according to their unique design, to encourage them and create an environment where they can flourish, not to impose our will on them by trying to bend them in another direction.
4. A Dad Who Speaks God's Truth Freely
Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV) says, “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Jesus said in Luke 6:45 (NIV), “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” You don’t have to force it out, because it flows out. If you love God completely and love God’s Word wholeheartedly, you will speak about it freely.
Remember that you are talking with them, not at them. It should be a dialogue, not a monologue. What will you talk about? Anything and everything! Cultivate the kind of relationship with your children where they know they can safely discuss anything with you. Work on your poker face. Our kids are capable of some very bad things because we are their parents, and we are capable of some very bad things. They inherited their sin nature from us.
Tim Kimmel, author and founder of Family Matters, says that a grace-based dad gives his kids the freedom to be different, to be vulnerable, to be candid, and to make mistakes. We are simply treating our kids the way God treats us. In order to do this we must connect with their heart, not just their behavior. Our mission is not to raise compliant children who won’t embarrass us. Our hope for them is not behavior modification but transformation. (From 33 The Series, Vol. 6: A Man and His Fatherhood, Session 2)
5. A Dad Who Stands Guard CourageouslyDeuteronomy 6:8-9 says, “Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” This became a literal practice in Jewish tradition. The mezuzah—a small piece of parchment usually containing the line from Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” was folded or rolled, placed in a small case, and attached to the right side of the doorway of a home at shoulder height. Tradition dictated that it be placed within 30 days of moving into a new home. Phylacteries are small leather boxes that contain portions of The Law of Moses. Boxes are strapped to the wrist and to a sort of headband so that one literally carries the laws of God over his eyes and on his hands.
But hold on before you start hanging mezuzahs and wearing phylacteries. Jesus mentions how some were missing the point in this practice in Matthew 23:5 : “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide … ” Our application of this principle is clearly more than hanging a plaque that says “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” and wearing a vintage WWJD bracelet from the nineties.
Every child needs a dad who will stand guard over them wearing the full armor of God: the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. A dad on a pathway toward authentic manhood knows how to wield the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. He has a practical working knowledge of it. He loves it wholeheartedly, impressing it on his children, speaking about it freely in regular meaningful conversations. And, he teaches his children how to wear this armor because he knows that they must learn how to fight! He knows that we’re not raising safe kids, we’re raising strong kids.
I didn't have a dad who provided these 5 must haves for me. He was absent from my life when he was alive, and he died when I was only ten-years-old. I grew up with a single mom, but looking back on my childhood experience even before I put my faith in Jesus, I can see how God provided these things through father figures strategically placed in my path, and directly from his Word when I finally decided to follow Jesus. Regardless of your experience as a son, let's make the choice as dads to provide these 5 things for our children.
This article originally appeared on AuthenticManhoodHouston.com