October 21, 2017

A Christian Father’s Self-Examination

Bud Talbert

G.Campbell Morgan (1863–1945), a great Congregational preacher, once said: “What I want my children to be, that I am!” The father’s example is his instruction.

The following series of questions is designed to help a Christian father evaluate his paternal effectiveness. After you have honestly and earnestly asked yourself these questions, then ask your family to answer the same questions about you. We tend to be dishonest with ourselves, so the objective and freely expressed opinion of family, especially our children, ought to be appreciated. They are more likely to see us the way God sees us.

When we turn the searchlight of God’s Word on ourselves, we must remember two things. First, my reluctance to do it may indicate that I have something to hide. Nobody enjoys having his faults exposed, but that is the first and necessary step to correcting them. A failure in self-examination dooms us to self-deception. Second, failures need to be repented of and apologized for, and every effort made to remedy them. Otherwise we simply become forgetful hearers of the Word and not doers of it.

The Questions

The key question for every father to answer is this: What kind of an influence am I exerting on my children?

  • Do I know what goes on in my home? How? Do I know what goes on in the lives of my family members?
  • How often do I speak with each of my children seriously and personally?
  • Do I know what my children read (Prov. 4:43)? Do I know what kind of music my children listen to?
  • Do I know what my children watch on television (Prov. 4:23)?
  • Do I know who my children’s friends are (1 Cor. 15:33)?
  • How much time each week are my children alone (Prov. 29:15)?
  • How much time do I spend with each of my children each week?
  • Do I pray with my children personally?
  • Do my children know that I pray privately? Do they know that I pray with their mother?
  • Am I the head of my home? Do I assume the leadership of my home (Gen. 18:19)? If not, why not?
  • Does my example and influence promote godliness in my home (Eph. 6:4)?
  • How am I teaching my children to be holy? To be grateful? To be happy? To love and enjoy God?
  • What are two specific things that I do in my home to promote godliness in my children?
  • What are two things that I allow in my home that tend to hinder godliness?
  • Am I allowing anything in my home that is destructive of my child’s spiritual life?
  • Is my job more important to me than my family? What kind of situation would it take for me to quit my job for my child’s sake?
  • Is any hobby or sport more important to me than my family?
  • Do I have one testimony at church and a different one at home? Am I a hypocrite?
  • Do I want my children to be like I am right now?
  • Are my children proud of me? Why? Or why not?
  • Do my children see any idols in my life (Exod. 20:2–6)?
  • Have my children ever heard me take the Lord’s name in vain (Exod. 20:7)?
  • Do I sanctify the Lord’s Day (Exod. 20:8–11)? How? Do my children sanctify the Lord’s Day too?
  • Do I see to it that my children are in church? Am I faithful in my own church attendance? Again, if not, why not?
  • Does my behavior make it easy for my children to reverence and respect me (Exod. 20:12)?
  • Do my children see me honoring my parents (Exod. 20:12)?
  • Do I expect my children to do what I am not doing?
  • Am I trying to compensate for missed opportunities in my own life by forcing my children to do what they themselves don’t want to or are not able to do?
  • Do my children think that my anger is excessive? Sinful (Exod. 20:13)?
  • Do my children know their father to be morally pure (Exod. 20:14)?
  • Do they know that I love their mother?
  • When was the last time they saw me being affectionate with their mother?
  • Do my children know me to be honest (Exod. 20:15, 16)? Have they ever known me to steal? To lie?
  • Do I keep my promises to my children (Exod. 13:5)?
  • Do my children hear me complain about lack of money (Exod. 20:17)?
  • Do they know me to be content? What am I doing to instruct my children in God’s Word (Deut. 6:4–9)?
  • Is Scripture a very common thing in my home? Do my children hear it from me? Do we have family devotions? Daily?
  • What am I doing to ensure that my children are saved (Rom. 4:11)?
  • Am I teaching my children to trust the Lord by my own testimony of faith (Gen. 22:7, 8)?
  • Have I spoken to each of my children about salvation? About baptism? About serving the Lord?
  • Am I instructing my family in the way of the Lord (Gen. 18:19)?
  • Do my children have their own convictions and standards, or are they just following me because I make them?
  • Is my family close to me? Am I easy to approach and talk to (Rom. 8:15)?
  • Do I provoke my children to wrath (Eph. 6:4)? How? Why?
  • Do I “pity” my children (my boys as well as my girls) as I ought (Ps. 103:13)?
  • Am I passing godly or “vain” traditions on to my children (1 Pet. 1:18)?
  • Do I have a favorite among my children (1 Pet. 1:17)? Am I consistently more generous with any one of my children (Gen. 37:3, 4)?
  • Is my love for my family obvious (1 John 3:1)? How?
  • Am I a priest before God in behalf of my children (Job 1:5)?
  • Do I pray for the future spouse of each of my children?
  • What kind of spouse do I want for my child? What kind of spouse do I want my child to be (Gen. 24)?
  • Is my home a place of peace (Gen. 27)?
  • Do I discipline my children (Heb. 12:7; Prov. 22:6)? Do my children think that my discipline is fair?
  • Am I training my children to be responsible (Prov. 22:6)?
  • Am I training my children to love their father’s God (Gen. 32:9)?
  • Am I restraining the sinful, selfish impulses of my children (1 Sam. 3:13)?
  • Am I “displeasing” my children at appropriate times (1 Kings 1:6; Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 23:13)?
  • How am I teaching my children to be modest (Gen. 9:22)?
  • How am I teaching my children to serve the Lord willingly (Gen. 12:1; Matt. 4:22)?
  • Which is more important to me—leaving my children a spiritual inheritance or a material one (Matt. 6:33; Gen. 31:1–16)? What is my greatest legacy to them?
  • Are my children liable for the punishment of sins that I have committed (Exod. 20:5)?
Conclusion

Highlight those questions where you find yourself most wanting. Read the Scriptures associated with those obligations, and before God genuinely confess your failure. Genuine confession includes (1) a frank admission of personal guilt (not offering excuses and rationalizations for the wrong); (2) genuine sorrow that I have thus offended God by violating His holy requirements (not sorrow that I have been “caught” by God); and (3) a willingness to accept the consequences of my sin. Plead with God for His forgiving mercy, and for grace to forsake your failures and to be a more godly father.


Bud Talbert is president of Foundation Baptist College in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

(Originally published in FrontLine • May/June 2001. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)


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