Four Bible Fathers in Active Parenting Roles
No parent is perfect, and this fact may scare some into worrying about the effectiveness of their parenting skills. The good news is that successful parenting emphasizes persistence over perfection. Just keep at it!
The following examples extracted from the lives of four Bible fathers suggest parenting habits that are worthy of imitation. Fathers especially, will be inspired to adopt them in their efforts to become the proactive parents their children need. All quotations are from the New King James Version.
Jonadab: He Taught By Example
“Then I [Prophet Jeremiah] set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites bowls full of wine, and cups; and I said to them, ‘Drink wine.’ But they said, ‘We will drink no wine. . . Thus we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he charged us.’” (Jeremiah 35: 5, 6,8)
Jonadab was dead for about three hundred years, when God chose his descendants to illustrate obedience to the Israelites. Not even the prophet could persuade the Rechabites to disobey their father’s instructions. Meanwhile, the Israelites habitually broke their covenant with God. God instructed Jeremiah to showcase the Rechabites as models of the loyalty and obedience which He expected.
Jonadab’s long-standing influence was due to the fact that he taught by example. He taught loyalty to religion, and demonstrated his own loyalty in his fight against idolatry, alongside Jehu who stamped out Baal worship. (2 Kings 10). He demonstrated his instruction to his descendants to live in tents, so they could easily move away from sacrilegious neighbors who might have surrounded them.
Fathers today are not called to repeat Jonadab’s instructions, but to learn from his example that the children pay serious attention when father also does what he tells them to do. God promised that Jonadab (also called Jehonadab) will always have a descendant in His service.
Manoah: He Prayed A Prenatal Prayer
“Then Manoah prayed to the Lord, and said, “O my Lord, please let the Man of God whom You sent come to us again and teach us what we shall do for the child who will be born.” Judges 13:8
While Manoah’s wife was barren, an angel appeared to her and promised she would bear a child. The angel also gave instructions on how to raise the child as a Nazirite, to begin the deliverance of the Israelites from the Philistines. When Manoah heard the news, he prayed for the heavenly being to return, not because he had any doubt, but because he yearned for clarity on how to do his part right.
Prenatal concern is the responsibility of the father as much as the responsibility of the mother. Manoah is an encouragement for fathers to get involved in the well-being and training of the child, right from the start. Although his son Samson detoured from God's plan, he could not shake off the conviction of his early training. Eventually he fulfilled the purpose for which he was born. (Judges 16: 29,30)
Jacob: He Renamed His Child
“And so it was, as her [Rachel’s] soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father [Jacob] called him Benjamin. (Genesis 35:18)
Every father can see himself in Jacob, at various stages of his life. He was the runaway rebel, the spiritual overcomer, and everything in between. Here, at the birth of his twelfth son, he exhibited the maturity of an old man with parental wisdom.
The child’s mother was Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife, and she was dying. According to Ellicot’s Commentary, “her feeling was that the life of her offspring was purchased by her own pain and death.” She named the boy Ben-Oni, meaning “son of my sorrow.” But that name would be a constant reminder to Jacob of his wife’s suffering. At some point, he would have to explain it to the boy who would in turn feel that he contributed to his mother’s death, and doubt his significance.
So Jacob renamed his son Benjamin, which means “son of my right hand.” Jacob knew his own worth, having wrestled with God and prevailed –and having been renamed Israel. (Genesis 32: 24-28). Instead of having his son walk around in self-pity, he wanted Benjamin to walk around feeling worthy, “very dear to me, the support of my age, like the staff in my right hand.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Here is a reminder for fathers to have input in the naming of their children, and to choose names which promote their worthy aspirations. Saul, who was renamed Paul, and charged with spreading the gospel to the Gentiles, was from the tribe of this same Benjamin. (Philippians 3: 5)
Job: He Interceded for His Children
“He would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did regularly.” (Job 1:5).
Before Job succumbed to the suffering for which he is best known, the Bible records that he was a pious family man. His seven sons and three daughters met often to celebrate birthdays, feast days and whatever occasioned a happy family gathering. Job feared that in their merriment they might neglect their spirituality. Just in case they did, he assumed his role as priest of his family and atoned for their sins. And it is well that he did, because as a result of the evil attack on him, all his children died together during one of these celebrations (Job 1: 18,19).
We wonder how Job survived the loss of his ten children in one event, but his continual intercession on their behalf rendered them eternally safe. What a sobering thought for parents who might be so distracted by their children’s conduct, that they spend more time worrying than praying!
Job’s habit of intercession is a reminder for parents to trust God for their children’s salvation. God loves them more than we do, and He is more capable than we are to protect them from or in life's perils.
Active Parenting Poll
Which of these four actions do you most urgently need to imitate in your family?
© 2020 Dora Weithers