Turning the Hearts of the Fathers to Their Childen
By Rick Boyer
Published in The Teaching Home magazine, March/April 1998
“And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6 KJV).
While the above verse from Malachi warns of a curse, it also gives the preventive measure: a turning of fathers’ hearts to children and of children’s hearts to fathers.
This is what I believe is happening in the home-education movement, and it is the main reason that I have hope for the future.
If you as a father would turn your heart to your children, you will have to place different priorities on things associated with your work. First of all, you cannot put your job first in your life. You can’t work day and night to advance up the job ladder at the expense of time with your family.
You also can’t travel three hundred days a year. It just won’t work. It takes time to raise children. Your job needs to allow a degree of flexibility. If you are home educating, your family is already more flexible than average and can allow some room for irregularities in your work schedule. But your work needs to return the favor.
There will be times when opportunities arise for your family to do something of value together that happens when you would normally be at work. Can you get time off when it is advantageous for your ministry to your family?
We also need to look at money through different lenses than other men. That includes training our children for a job as well as how to spend, save, invest, and give money. In short, stewardship.
It means that making money can’t be our goal in life. To put that first will cost us the hearts of our children sooner or later.
We need to be committed to living debt-free. It may be very hard and require sacrifice to get out and stay out of debt, but it is an essential goal. If our children watch their fathers depend on credit to provide the needs of the family, they will see nothing wrong with using credit themselves.
Proverbs 22:7 says the borrower is a slave to the lender. Financial freedom is to be carefully and diligently guarded.
Seeing money through a heart turned to children means having different priorities for spending. You may spend less on golf clubs and bass boats than your friends do; that’s because you place a higher priority on trips to the museum and building a family library.
Home education for your children will be a conviction, not an alternative option. Only that way can you have maximum involvement in the life and learning of your child. Character training will be more valued than academics.
This is another issue that will look different when viewed through the eyes of a man whose heart has been turned to his children. It means being willing to be interrupted. It means accepting a little person’s “help” when doing a home project would go more smoothly without it. It means making time for your devotional life, not just for your own benefit, but to seek answers for the issues that make you a better dad.
Sometimes (such as when you read the same kiddie book aloud for the fourth time in a row) parenthood involves some monotony. But when you endure it willingly, you are saying something powerful to the little person on your lap.
You are saying, “I love you. You are important to me.” If you prioritize your time so that your child grows up believing that, he will have the sense of significance and purpose that can motivate a person to leave his mark on the world.
Our attitude toward the church may need adjusting as we turn our hearts to our children. It may even mean changing churches if the one we are in at present isn’t family friendly. At least it will mean we have to beware of over-commitment at the expense of family time.
We may have to protect our children from some church programs, watching out for such things as objectionable music and peer pressure in youth groups.
The dedicated dad must stand alone for his family, because many churches won’t share his vision. Some people won’t understand if you don’t take advantage of all their ministries to children. Just be faithful and raise your children for the Lord.