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Beloved Unbeliever - Part 2

Guest: Jo Berry

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January 11, 2023

7 Ways to Say "I Love You" to Your Children This Year

I'm not a huge New Year's resolution guy. However, as a new year begins, it is another opportunity to raise the bar in my effort to be the best dad I can be. I'm also reminded that the opportune time to pour into my sons and daughters is limited to a couple of precious decades. This is not to say I can't still influence my older children, but those initial years while my kids are still at home are critical ones. By God's grace, if I can help influence and shape these formative years, my children will have a great launching point as they prepare to build their own lives and families apart from me.

At the heart of all I do as a father, I want my children to know that I love them in a God-driven manner. I don't want to miss out on this opportunity that God has given me to help shape their lives for Him. Here are seven ways I want to be more intentional in saying "I love you" to my children this year.

1. Spend time together in God's Word

In a world filled with lies, it's imperative that our children put on this critical piece of God's armor. It is a lamp for their feet and a light for their path (Psalm 119:105). As a father, anchoring my kids to God's truth is only second to knowing their Savior, Jesus Christ.

My goal this year is to share one verse during our family meals. I'll likely start in the book of Romans. I'm choosing only one verse to allow me to ask questions and hear from my kids. To lead them well, I need to know where their hearts are.

2. Show my kids what it means to be a man of God

Our sons and daughters are watching us and learning with every word we speak and the actions we take. They are wired to follow where we've been and head in the direction we're going. At this moment, what is your life teaching them? In a world that is attempting to erase the reality of God's design for men and women, it is critical that children learn what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like.

It's my desire to spend more one-on-one time with each of them. I want my youngest daughter to know how a man should treat her, and I want my sons to know, without question, how a man should behave toward a woman. God-honoring chivalry, putting our women and children before ourselves, is the calling for every man. It's my responsibility to help set the benchmark for my sons and daughters as I seek to follow the standard that Christ has set for me.

3. Speak words of affirmation

Our children desperately need to hear our words of affirmation. This is not to say we shower our admiration when it's not deserved. Yet, when our kids work hard and do their best, they need to know that we are proud of them. It's been said that it takes nine affirming comments to make up for each negative statement spoken to our children (Abraham Maslow). What resounding messages are our children hearing from us?

If my child is doing his or her best, I need to make sure they're hearing from me, "Way to go… Well done, I'm so proud of you!" They also need to know that they have immense value as children and image-bearers of the God who made them. This is where an unshakeable self-esteem is established and sustained. Regardless of what the world may say about them, they are fearfully and wonderfully made and God has a purpose for them (Psalm 139:14).

4. Enjoy each of their unique gifts and passions

God created each of our children with unique gifts and passions. As a dad, one of my top jobs is to help cultivate those God-given gifts in each of my children. Too often, I can get caught up in treating all my kids as if they're exactly the same. This year, I plan to pay more attention to their God-given uniqueness and do my best to let them shine as God designed.

5. Devote one night a week to a "Family Fun Night"

Life can be challenging and downright difficult. Our kids need to have God-glorifying fun. Whether it's a game night or spending some downtime with another family, I want my children to know the joy of spending time together with family and friends. There is truth to the old saying that laughter is the best medicine.

6. Spend more dedicated time praying for them

I'm humbled when I read about prayer warriors like the Dobsons. I know Dr. James Dobson and Shirley spent years of their lives literally on their knees for their kids. How often do you pray for your children?

As a father, I want to pray more for my sons and daughters. I also want to be intentional with my prayers. This means I need to be engaging their hearts and minds daily to know what their struggles and challenges are.

7. Love their mother

This one always makes my list when it comes to being a better father. There's a reason for this. I've seen first-hand the countless families torn apart due to the waywardness of one man. While God's healing grace can help mend the brokenness, there will always be scars when a marriage dissolves. We must become men who protect what matters most.

As a married man of God, it's my highest calling to love my wife as Christ loved His church (Ephesians 5). This means that her needs come before mine. I know that my pursuit of this goal will be imperfect. Yet, if my eyes are on Christ, my eyes and heart will also stay focused on my wife, and this is where they need to be.

With each new year comes an opportunity for every Christian man to re-commit his life to Christ, his wife, and his children. I'm convinced now more than ever that the institution of the family hinges upon whether men of God will embrace their calling to be the leaders of their homes. Let's not forsake the chief responsibility that God has squarely placed upon every man that has fathered a child — to love your children and to look for every chance to point them to their Savior.

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