The Importance of Turning the Hearts of Fathers to Their Children
God sent John the Baptist to prepare people for lasting revival so that the church would endure after Jesus returned to Heaven. Jesus’ ministry lasted only three years. At the end of those three years, the revival that began has continued for two thousand years. What God said that John the Baptist would do to prepare the people for Jesus, was to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of children to their fathers. Many Christian leaders have pooh-poohed the biological church growth among some groups and have put their focus on reaching unchurched people, not realizing that for lasting revival we need evangelism and we also need to keep the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those brought in through evangelism and of those who are already Christians.
Many fathers feel inadequate in knowing how to turn the hearts of their children to them. They need tools to enable them to do so, and to know how to train their children in the ways of the Lord. A father’s heart being turned to his children means that he has a deep heart’s desire to see each child grow up to be a man or a woman after Jesus’ heart. He will make personal and financial sacrifices to make sure that each child and grandchild will remain faithful to following Jesus.
Scriptures and Insights Showing the Importance of Turning the Hearts of Fathers to Their Children
Deuteronomy 32:46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. 47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
In turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, the fathers need to be shown that teaching their children Christ’s commands is important because it is their children’s life and will prolong their children’s days. Most parents see the need to take care of their children if they are sick. However, they need to see that the spiritual wellbeing of their children is even more important.
Proverbs 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
God tells us in this passage that the fear of the Lord and knowledge of God comes when the heart of the child is turned toward his father and he listens to his father’s instruction. The church has attempted teach the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God, by going around the father and training the children in the church without the father. The result is that the hearts of the children are turned to their peers and Bible literacy in the church has been steadily declining.
Proverbs 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
This passage is a parallel to the command in the Ten Commandments to honor your father and mother. The result is a longer life and success in life. This is an important reason for the hearts of the children to be turned toward their father.
Malachi 4:6 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.
John the Baptist’s job was to prepare the people for lasting revival, so the church would continue after Jesus went back to heaven, by turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and the heart of the children to their fathers.
Turning the hearts of the fathers to the children is the key to lasting revival. The fathers then train their children and grandchildren to follow the Bible and not follow the world. The revival is not lost in one generation, but the love for the Lord is passed from one generation to the next. God promises us that there will be severe punishment if the hearts of the fathers are not turned to the children and the children to their fathers. God will smite the earth with a curse. God views the turning of the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers as something vitally important.
Matthew 18:2-7 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, (3) And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (4) Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. (6) But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (7) Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!
Jesus tells us that having one’s heart turned toward children is necessary to receive Him. (v. 5) In order for an adult to humble himself as a child, he needs to recognize that little children are as important in the church as the adults, and that the adults are not any more important than the children. Just as whites are not any more important than blacks, and men are not any more important then women, so adults are not any more important than children! Each child has an eternal soul just like an adult.
Matthew 18:10-14 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. (11) For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (12) How think ye? if a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? (13) And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. (14) Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
The church has historically discouraged children from joining the church because they are too young. The church can help turn the hearts of the fathers to their children by putting a higher value on the souls of children. A father needs to recognize that it is not the will of God that any of his children should be lost. Therefore if a father does anything that allows the child to go astray, the father is not doing God’s will; especially if the father does not do everything in his power to bring the child back to the Lord. We need to go after a “lost” young person and bring them back to Christ. When a man’s child turns his back on the Lord, that father needs to leave everything else and seek to bring back that child, even if it means leaving work for a month or more or go to another state or country.
Children must not be separated from the adults in the worship service because they are young. It is despising a child to think that they cannot understand or get anything out of the worship service. Children have a much greater capacity for spiritual understanding than what many adults realize.
Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
Part of getting people ready to receive the Lord is to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. This can be done only through the power of the Holy Spirit. The homeschool movement is preparing people for lasting revival here in America.
God’s desire is that a father and mother will have Godly descendants. The turning of the hearts of the fathers to their children begins by the father loving and showing affection to his children’s mother. Divorce is very destructive to the family and to having Godly descendants. Divorce is not just a sin against one’s spouse but sin that affects a man’s descendants for many generations. The church in turning the hearts of the fathers to their children needs to preach that divorce and remarriage is sin. God tells us in Malachi 2:15-16 “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. (16) For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”
The church has missed the importance of turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and has looked down on biological growth in churches. Sunday school, youth groups, divorce and remarriage, mothers and fathers working away from home, and rock music, have all contributed to turning the hearts of the fathers away from their children and the children’s hearts away from their fathers.
Evangelism needs to be more than getting a person to make a commitment to Christ. God’s wants us to also help that new Christian turn their heart toward their children or their future children, so that they will help their children and grandchildren come to the Lord. In evangelism we need to get our focus off of only focusing on the individual and see the bigger picture that each individual has a potential influence on their descendants. Each person can potentially have thousands of descendants if Christ does not return soon. That is why it is so important to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.
Luke 9:48 And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.
Jesus said that developing a relationship with Him means that we will also turn our hearts toward children and receive them because He wants us to.
Mark 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
Jesus got a young child as an example to the apostles. This was the very type of child that is being shoved into children’s church, children’s Sunday school, and the nursery to keep them out of the church. We need to welcome children into church services, “for of such are the kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus wants us to recognize the importance of training a child to keep His commands and to grow up to be a man or woman after His heart.
Turning our hearts toward children means to recognize the eternal existence of their soul and the utmost importance of training their thinking and actions in the ways of the Lord while they are young and receptive, and helping them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Mark 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. (14) But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (15) Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. (16) And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
Jesus loves little children. We need to follow his example. It is wrong for the church to view children as less important then the adults, and that they should not be part of the adult worship service so that the adults can have “more quality time” in the worship service. It is wrong to forbid a child to be part of a worship service. They need to be there because they are part of Christ’s kingdom also.
A father needs to bless his children like Jesus did. It tells us exactly how Jesus blessed them. Jesus held the child, and then laid his hands on them and blessed them. The turning of a father’s heart to his children means that the father will want to have the children near him and to touch them. Both being near, and touch convey the message of love and acceptance to the children. A father represents God to his children. If a father wants his children to be drawn to God, he must find ways to draw them to his heart.
1Timothy 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
It is important that the hearts of fathers be turned to their children so that they can become Godly and effective leaders – it must occur first in their own home.
How to Turn the Hearts of the Fathers to Their Children.
Exodus 13:8 And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, [This is done] because of that [which] the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
Turning the fathers’ hearts to their children means helping fathers prioritize the importance of the spiritual training of their children and grandchildren and helping fathers see the utmost importance of showing their children that God is real and how He worked in the father’s life.
A father needs to see his responsibility to do the spiritual training of his children. Men tend to either take full responsibility or none. One of the detriments of the church taking the responsibility for the spiritual training of the children is that fathers have tended to continue to neglect their responsibility for the spiritual training. Sunday school was started because fathers were not training their children, and children were ignorant of spiritual things. The mistake that was made was taking over the fathers’ responsibility rather than turning the hearts of the fathers to their children. Sunday school, Christian school, youth groups etc. tend to turn the hearts of children to their peers rather than to their fathers.
Deuteronomy 6:1-9 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: (2) That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. (3) Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. (4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: (5) And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (6) And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: (7) And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (8) And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. (9) And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Teaching by the father, seems to be vital for turning the hearts of the fathers to the children. God tells fathers over and over to teach their children. To turn the hearts of fathers to their children, we need to show the fathers God’s commands so they can teach their children Christ’s commands. We need to encourage fathers to teach their children, and we need to provide them with helps and tools to accomplish the training. (sign on your hands, frontlets between thine eyes, and written on the posts of thy house and on thy gates.)
Joshua 1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it [to] the right hand or [to] the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest.
In turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, the fathers need to be encouraged to be strong and very courageous to train their children. Many fathers are afraid of their teenagers or afraid that if they lay down rules for their teenagers that they will push the children away. The result is that many fathers allow immodest dress, rock music, wrong attitudes, actions, and objects into their homes because they do not have the backbone to say, “No.”
In turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, fathers need to be encouraged to meditate on God’s Word day and night so that they will observe to do all that is commanded in it and will lead their children to observe to do all that God has commanded.
Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit. 13 [Then] will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
A father needs to know the joy of his salvation. Children’s hearts are drawn to a father with a joyful heart. The fathers need to be excited about following Christ and keeping His commands. They need to have joy in living the Christian life. As a church we need to show fathers the joy they receive when they follow God’s ways and turn their hearts to their children and the resulting reward of having their children’s hearts turned toward them. We need to teach them with a joyful spirit so they will want what we have. They will need to see our family interact with joy.
In turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and children to their fathers, when children see their father live joyfully with their mother, it draws their hearts toward both rather than pitting the child’s heart between the parents. Parents need to enjoy their children and not view them as a drag or something in the way of having a good time for just the mother and father. When the parents have trained their children properly, so that the children aren’t brats, the parents will be able to be more joyful about their children. The children will actually be fun to have around.
Psalm 78:1 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: 3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide [them] from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. 5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: 6 That the generation to come might know [them, even] the children [which] should be born; [who] should arise and declare [them] to their children: 7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: 8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation [that] set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God.
To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, fathers need to be taught that he is the one responsible to teach his children and grandchildren in the ways of the Lord. He needs to be taught that his children need to hear what God has done in the past so they can see the power of God and know God is real and so they keep His commands. For the father not tell the grandchildren and great grandchildren what God has done, is the same thing as hiding it from them.
In turning the hearts of fathers to their children, the fathers need to be told again and again to teach their children what God has done, and tell the fathers the benefits of doing so. The fathers know what they should do, but they need someone to tell them again. They need to be shown that things are not hopeless with their children; that the children can be taught not to be stubborn and rebellious (v.8) Fathers need to be shown that they can change the next generation, and make it a Godly generation. Teach them how to do it.
Psalm 144:7 Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children; 8 Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand [is] a right hand of falsehood. 9 I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery [and] an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. 10 [It is he] that giveth salvation unto kings: who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword. 11 Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand [is] a right hand of falsehood: 12 That our sons [may be] as plants grown up in their youth; [that] our daughters [may be] as corner stones, polished [after] the similitude of a palace:
In order for the father to have his heart turned to his children, he needs to rid himself of other people who are ungodly and who have wrong influences on his children. In other words, get rid of the TV! The TV takes time and attention away from one’s children.
In turning the hearts of the children to their fathers, other children and young people need to be removed from influencing one’s own children negatively and taking their hearts. Removing competing influences is something that the father needs have a desire to do.
A father MUST guard his children from destructive influences if he wants to have their hearts. He needs to keep them away from lying, silly-talking children who could easily influence his own children for bad. One major way of guarding them is by homeschooling.
Proverbs 29:15-17 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. (16) When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth: but the righteous shall see their fall. (17) Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
For a father to turn his heart to his children, he needs to spank them and rebuke them to give them wisdom. The reason God gives in this passage is the benefit for the parents. Usually we think of it as a benefit for the child. But this passages states that a correctly trained child will give his parents rest and they will delight in the child. That is turning the heart of the parents to the children. The opposite also happens. A child left to do as he pleases brings shame to his parents. When parents are ashamed of their child, the result is that the embarrassment turns the parents’ hearts away from the child.
To turn the hearts of fathers to their children, the fathers need to be taught how to correctly spank and train their children. The children need to act with wisdom especially in their teenage years so that their father can delight in the children and his heart be turned toward them.
Malachi 4:6 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.
It often takes someone else to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children; it usually doesn’t happen automatically. Note that the verse mentions turning the hearts of the fathers to the children before turning the hearts of the children to their fathers. The one will almost automatically follow the other in this order.
Sunday school, graded education, and youth groups, split up the family and turn the hearts of the children to their peers rather than to their fathers. The church has to be active in turning the hearts of the fathers to their children if we are to see revival that will last. Unfortunately, the church has been active in dividing up the family and putting the fathers in one group and the children and youth into groups by themselves.
In our experience, when I as their father worked at home, my heart became more turned to my children than when I was away 10-12 hours a day.
Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
In turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, the fathers need to recognize that it is the father that has the primary responsibility for the spiritual training of his children; not the mother, not the church, and not the Sunday school teacher. The word “Nurture” means: tutorage, that is, education or training; by implication disciplinary correction: – chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture.
For a father’s heart to be turned to his children and their hearts turned toward him, he must not provoke his children to anger. If he does he needs to go to his children and ask their forgiveness.
Hebrews 12:6-11 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (8) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (10) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
In turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, fathers need to be taught how to properly discipline their children by spanking them and giving the child instruction of how to do the right thing the next time. This is a very important key in turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. If proper discipline is not carried out, the hearts will not be bonded together.
What a Father Does Whose Heart is Turned Toward His Children
This section also addresses how a father turns his children’s hearts to himself
Genesis 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
A father whose heart is turned to his children will command them to keep the way of the Lord and to do justice and judgment. It is not merely telling one’s children about God’s commands, but commanding the children to obey God.
Fathers need to be shown the far reaching eternal effects of training their children in the ways of the Lord, or the consequences of neglecting to do so, and show the contrast between the two generations down the line.
Exodus 10:2 And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I [am] the LORD.
In turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, fathers and grandfathers need to be instructed to tell all their descendants, the things that God has done for them during their lifetime. The fathers need to see the importance of their descendants knowing how God is real today and not just a historical figure. Fathers and grandfathers should write down the things that God has done for them. When the children see the things that God did for their father, it not only gives them a greater ambition to follow God, it elevates their father in their minds, because they see that he is a “mighty man of God”. It makes him more of a hero for his children, and children’s hearts are drawn to heroic men.
Deuteronomy 11:19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: 21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
A father needs to be with his children and take them with him when he goes somewhere in the car. This passage addresses using the normal activities of the day, meal times, travel, getting up, and going to bed as opportunities for the father to teach his children. Quality time with one’s children is normal activities and work put to good use. God implies here that parents are to be with their children most of the day. Fathers need to eat meals with their children.
A key part of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, is that the fathers if possible need to be around their children for a good part of the day. The average American father spends only a few minutes each day talking with each child. A lot of fathers are only with their children from the time they get home from work until the time the children go to bed – a period of only a few hours. For many it is even less than that. It is hard for two hearts (the father’s and the child’s) to be drawn together when they are only together for a very short period of time each week. If possible, fathers should have a home business where they can be with their children.
In our society, a home based business for the father is the exception rather than the rule. This is not as it should be. It is best for a father to work and live alongside his family if God would so grant. And pray that He will enable you to work at home or have a job that at least some of your family can be with you. If God has led you to a job away from home, interact by working and playing with your children (instead of going golfing with other men), when you are not at work. Actively teach and train them. Some of the best times of training and bonding of the hearts of the father and children occur while working together on meaningful work, not play.
Job 12:12 With the ancient [is] wisdom; and in length of days understanding. 13 With him [is] wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.
Children need to be with their parents – their parents have more wisdom and experience. When the father works alongside his children, not only can their hearts be drawn together, but the father guides the children as to how to do what they’re doing, and shares his experience with his children. Working is also a good time for fathers and children to interact, share, and talk about the things that are on their hearts. It is bonding for a father and a child to talk together about a heart issue.
Psalm 71:18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto [this] generation, [and] thy power to every one [that] is to come.
A father’s heart is turned to his children and grandchildren when he wants to show them God’s power and that God is real. A father needs to ask God to help him in actively turning his heart to his children. He needs to show God’s strength and power to everyone, to all his future descendants, that are to come. Most of my ancestors left no record of God’s strength and power that they saw in their lifetime. Most of what is left of their time on earth is a name, a date of birth, who they married, and the day they died, and that does not inspire any of their descendants to turn their hearts to the Lord.
Proverbs 3:11-13 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. 13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding
A father who loves and delights in his child will not merely punish the child, he will discipline the child. That is, he will teach and instruct the child in the way he should go at the time of discipline. A father who does not discipline (punish and also teach and instruct) his child, does not truly love his child or delight in him.
Proverbs 4:3 For I was my father’s son, tender and only [beloved] in the sight of my mother. 4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
It is important for a father to start when a child is very young (tender) and tell the child to listen to his commands and give the child the benefits of keeping the commands. When a child does not understand why a command is important, it is easier for someone else to come and turn the child’s heart to follow them and to disobey the father’s command. A child’s heart will be turned to his father when he sees that his father wants to help him attain the best in life, and understands that is why his father gives him commands to keep.
Proverbs 4:20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 22 For they [are] life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
God says over and over, “My son,” which means, “Builder of the family name.” In particular, sons, the builders of the family name, need to be trained by their father in spiritual matters. A father needs to tell his children to be attentive and listen to what he says. He needs to tell his children the benefit to their lives of listening to what he tells them.
Proverbs 5:1 My son, attend unto my wisdom, [and] bow thine ear to my understanding: 2 That thou mayest regard discretion, and [that] thy lips may keep knowledge.
A father, in turning the hearts of his children to himself, needs to tell them over and over to listen to what he is saying so that he can help them have a learner’s heart. He needs to tell his children over and over the benefit to their lives of listening to what he tells them.
Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, [and] tie them about thy neck. 22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and [when] thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. 23 For the commandment [is] a lamp; and the law [is] light; and reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life:
The turning of the hearts of the father to his children means that he will give his children commands that he expects them to follow. He will explain to the children the reason why they must keep his commands. Many fathers whose hearts are not turned to their children do not give their children very much guidance in the way of commands and explaining the reason for the commands. This verse shows us how everything is supposed to fit together. The father is the one who gives the commandments in the home. He sets the standard and basis for the principles of how the children are to be raised. The mother’s job is to instruct her children specifically how to follow those commandments. The children are to listen and obey. The result is a happy, secure, Godly home. In this manner, the mother supports her husband’s authority instead of competing for or usurping his authority.
Turning the hearts of the children to their father, is to get the children to want to remember and do their father’s commands. A child whose heart is not turned toward his father will not want to keep his father’s commands. A rebellious child has no interest in keeping his father’s commands. If a child has trouble remembering a command, a solution might be to give him or her a written reminder that the child would, for example, pin to his sleeve or the like. It might be a way of helping a child to remember.
Proverbs 7:1 My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. 2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. 3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. 4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
In turning the hearts of the children to their father, the children need to be told over and over the importance of keeping his commands and instructions. They need to be told that the rules and commands are benefits that will make them better persons as they become adults, and that will improve their lives and help them be successful. The father needs to help his children remember the commands that he gives them so that they will not forget. This passage repeats the instruction to remember the commands six times. This gives us an illustration of how a father should teach his children. Important instructions need to be stated six times. Each time, state the instruction a little differently so that the children get the full understanding of the command.
In turning the hearts of the children to their father, the father needs to help the children have a desire to have wisdom and understanding. Then they will want to hear and keep the commands that the father gives them, because they will understand the value of their father’s commands.
A father must not compromise rules to try to draw nearer to his children and to try to get them to like him. If he does, the children will see that the rules don’t really matter. A father must make rules for his home that will benefit his children if he wants to draw their hearts to himself. If the children see that their father truly has their good at heart, and that his commands are meant to help them obey God and to be successful in life, it will draw their hearts together. However, if the father bends the rules in an attempt to get closer to his children, it actually tells them that the rules he is breaking were not really for their good.
Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him quickly.
A father whose heart is turned toward his children will spank them, if possible, at the time of the offense. He will not delay the spanking if he can, because he knows that a child does not like to have a spanking waiting for him later. In order to turn a child’s heart to himself, a father needs to administer loving discipline when his child needs it. Letting children do whatever they want to will turn them into rebellious, hardly-lovable wrecks.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
A father’s heart needs to be turned to his children so that he personally will train his children in the way they should go. A father whose heart is not turned toward his children looks to others, the church, and Christian school to do the bulk of the training.
Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
The father and the son need to work together. How else can a son observe the ways of his father? A father needs to command his children to give him their heart and not assume, or hope, that they will give it to him. The father needs to take the initiative to get his children’s hearts. He needs to take the initiative to develop a relationship with his children so he can have their hearts. It is much like courtship. No young man can hope to win a young lady’s heart if he only spends a couple minutes now and then talking with her. But that is what many fathers do and wonder why they do not have their children’s hearts.
Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Jesus provides a picture of great tenderness with little children. Fathers can show little children their love and God’s love by holding them and by treating them tenderly.
Matthew 18:10-14 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. 11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 12 How think ye? if a man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
A father needs to leave everything and go wherever it is necessary to bring back a wayward or rebellious son or daughter. A father that does not leave all and go to bring back his erring child is actually despising that son or daughter and viewing them as not worth his time or energy. If a man’s son or daughter has rebelled or turned their back on Christ, Jesus says that His will for that man’s life at that point is to whatever is necessary to bring his child back to Christ.
A man whose heart is turned toward his children will not despise them, and view them as less important than other things that he feels he needs to do, such responsibilities at work or at church. A child has an eternal soul that will live on for ever and ever. The things of this world, money, responsibilities at work, etc. may seem important now but they will all fade away and be unimportant in eternity.
Colossians 3:21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Fathers who get angry with their children drive a wedge between the children and himself. Children don’t want to give their hearts to someone who is often mad at them. Instead, they will tend to give their hearts to someone who seems to care. It may very well be someone that the father would never allow to be a friend to his child in a million years. Fathers need to eat meals with their children.
A father turns the hearts of his children to him by giving them hope, not discouragement. Then when they are discouraged or have a problem they know they can go to their father for encouragement and answers. When the father gives discouragement, the children feel that they can’t go to him because he will make them feel even more discouraged.
One of the ways that fathers provoke their children to anger is in the way the father treats their mother. It is important that the father shows love to his wife and treats her lovingly and speaks kindly about and to her. This will turn the hearts of the children to their father.
Hindrances to a Father’s Heart not Being Turned toward His Children
Psalm 49:6 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; 7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: 8 (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth forever:) 9 That he should still live forever, and not see corruption. 10 For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others. 11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue forever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. 12 Nevertheless man being in honor abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish. 13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.
Fathers tend to put their focus on their job and making money and tend to neglect the real priorities, the souls of their children. In turning the hearts of the fathers to their children, fathers need to see the foolishness of a life focus on accumulating wealth in light of eternity. They need to see that the souls of their children are more important than owning a house or other property. The house will not continue forever like the soul of the child will.
A focus on a job or career, and making money is one of the biggest hindrances that fathers have in not turning their hearts to their children. Fathers tend to be too busy with their work and other interests when their children are young to develop the needed bonding with the children. Therefore this is one area that it is important that a father change his thinking and actions. We need to remind Christian men not to immediately look at working at home as an impossibility. They need to ask God what He wants them to do and then trust God to be faithful to provide. They will acquire stories to pass on of how God provides.
The Father Learning to Relate to the Next Generation
Being a father is one of the most difficult jobs there is. God has given the father the responsibility to train his children in the ways of the Lord so that when they grow up they will serve the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. A father makes many mistakes along the way. He has never raised children before and has to learn everything as he goes along. It is one thing to be a father to young children, but when they become teenagers, things change. Many fathers never learn to fully relate to the younger generation. What most fathers don’t realize is that even then, he, the father, is still “growing up”. We as fathers like to think that we are already fully grown up, but there is still one important skill that has yet to be learned. The father has never before in his life related to a younger generation who were adults in their thinking and reasoning abilities. That is something new that he has to learn as part of “growing up” and being a real man. Unfortunately, the skill of learning to truly relate to the younger generation is something that most fathers never learn.
The fact that most fathers never really learn how to relate to the younger generation is illustrated by the age of the one who teaches the youth group in most churches. The youth minister is usually a younger man even though older men have more wisdom and should be better able to teach and lead the young people. The problem is that most men never learned to fully relate to the younger generation. It has been my observation that when a pastor’s children turn their back on the Lord, or they don’t support their dad’s ministry, it is an indicator that the pastor has not learned to fully relate to the younger generation. If you are in a younger generation and he is your pastor, it is likely that he will not understand your needs, concerns, or insights into God’s Word and you will have problems feeling a part of that congregation and feeling like your needs are being met.
One of the most ignored requirements for a pastor is that he has his family supporting his ministry and that his family exhibits that he knows how to relate to, and is able to lead the younger generation. 1 Timothy 3:4-5 “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)”. A pastor needs to be a man who has truly “grown up” and can relate to people in generations younger than himself.
A key to a father learning how to relate to his teenagers is that he first has their hearts. They need to know that their father truly loves them and is truly interested in their success in life. There will be many mistakes and misunderstandings between the father and teenager as the father learns this important skill of relating to the younger generation. However, if the father has the teenager’s heart instead of the teenager’s friends having their heart, the learning curve for the father will more likely have a successful result. But if the teenager’s heart is given to his or her friends, the conflicts that are sure to happen as the father relates to the younger generation will drive a wedge between the father and child. It is likely that the father will never truly learn to relate to the younger generation the rest of his life. The father will likely have conflicts and misunderstandings with the younger generation both within and outside his family the rest of his life. It is sad.
The key to learning to relate to the younger generation is for the father’s heart to be turned toward his teenager and his teenager’s hearts turned toward him, and for the father to realize that he is still “growing up” and has a very important skill to learn, not just the teenager. Ask your children for patience as you learn the skill of relating to them. Also apologize and ask their forgiveness when you make mistakes in learning this new skill. They need to see that you really care about them.
The turning of the hearts of fathers to their children and the children to their fathers is one of the most important ministries of the church. It is important to evaluate programs and activities to make sure that the church is building up family relationships and not dividing the family or drawing the hearts of the children away from their father. The turning of the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers is the key to lasting revival that will go on generation after generation!