“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture (training) and admonition of the Lord.”Ephesians 6:4
Several years ago, my job required me to wake up very early, and I rarely went to bed before 10pm. I was often tired from burning the candle on both ends. I came home at the end of my work week on Saturday afternoons, ready to collapse, and the bed would be bare because Saturday was the day Rebekah would change the sheets. I just needed 20-30 minutes to recharge, but I often just helped her put the new sheets on and sleep would evade me. We then would go out with the kids to do a family activity, and I would be a walking zombie just trying to make it through until I could find my bed later that night. I remember thinking when I woke up at 3am that I could not wait for the time when I could get back in bed and spend quality time with my pillow.
I was quite irritable during these challenging times, which were compounded by my disjointed walk with God. I know I was not easy to live with, and there are times that I wish I could go back and change. When I came home from work, any little thing the kids would do irritated me, and I found myself losing my temper with the kids. I came home on one particular Saturday, and the kids were having a good old time. They were running around and making their own personal movies with Kate acting like Steven Spielberg. The kids were genuinely happy to see me and came up to greet me when I got home. I should have reciprocated the gesture of being excited to see my kids, but I quickly noticed that they were using my iPad to make their movies. I also noticed that my iPad protective cover was not on it, and I felt the kids were being irresponsible with my things. I might add the kids were only 5 and 8 years old at the time, and in their eyes, they did not see any harm in what they were doing.
I snapped at the kids and yelled, “Why is the cover not on my iPad?” I did not say, “Hey kids good to see you!” I did not reciprocate their happiness, and I did not give them a hug or even greet them for that matter. I was mean and I killed their little spirits. I ruined a moment they were trying to have with me, and simply went on my way after yelling at them in search of some respite. I did not think anything further of it until Kate came and wanted to show me something. She brought me the iPad – now with the cover on it – to show me the video she had made. By this time, I had cooled down a little, so I was open to watching her home movie. She played the movie starring Nate and her, and I disinterestedly watched it as the kids made these movies all the time. Suddenly, I saw someone in the movie that I recognized quite well. Kate had been filming the movie when I came home, and she filmed me as I yelled and wanted to know where my iPad cover was. I could not believe that was me, but there I was in my full glory, sucking the life out of their happy moment and killing the good time my kids were having.
I provoked my kids to wrath that day, and I wish I could say it was the last time I did it. I have made Lanie upset at times to where she would rather walk in the hot sun then accept a ride from me. I have made Nate upset by my sometimes lofty standards, and I have seen him want to respond to me, but he dared not poke the bear. I have said things to Kate and have gotten upset with her, which may have been warranted, but the way I acted towards her was not godly and or helpful. I have been guilty of provoking my kids to wrath, and I have had to to apologize for my ungodly behavior. Fathers do not have free rein to be unkind, unloving, or mean simply because we have the title of “dad”. We are responsible for the love in the home and our role is to bring up our family in the training and admonition of the Lord. We have a duty to point them to God and not push them away from God by our provoking and unloving actions.
Where are you today, dad? Are you provoking your children to wrath? Do you take the time to listen to your kids or do you push them to the side so you can unwind and relax? Is there an infraction that has taken place that you need to make right? When was the last time you apologized to your children when you have provoked them to wrath or said something that was unkind? We have the perfect example of what a Father should be in our God. He made provision for us to have the opportunity to spend all eternity with Him if we will accept the gift of His Son. Will you follow the lead of the Father? Will you make things right with your children? It is never too late to make amends with those you have wronged, and God forbid that we have unresolved sin with our own children. May we be careful in what we say and how we treat our children, and may we always point them to our Heavenly Father.