Summary: Here are three different habits that you as a dad can do and bestow upon your children.
Twenty-six hundred years ago in the year 640 BC, there was a new king over all of Israel. He was eight years old. His name was Josiah. This is a young man who had to grow into his role over time. But God put him there for a reason.
His family tree had not been filled with spiritual models for him to follow. Josiah’s dad, Amon, was an idolater. Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, was an idolater. Let me explain. There were so many false gods that idol worship ran rampant, and all of Josiah’s ancestors seemed to buy into this methodology as opposed to worshipping the one true God, which was the Jewish belief, of course.
There were many gods. There was Molech. Molech was a fertility god in which moms would bring their newborn babies to his altar and would burn them alive. And Josiah’s father and granddad approved of this and they actually encouraged it.
Another false god they worshipped was Asherah. You may have heard us talk in times past in sermons about the Asherah poles which were used in a very seductive and perverted form of worship, and they were all over the high hills of Jerusalem and even inside of the temple on Mount Moriah. The people had strayed so far from adoring and worshipping God that instead their worship had taken on a self-focus and indulgent pleasures rather than centering upon the one true God.
Now all of us can relate to Josiah, because either we had a father like Josiah had who wasn’t walking with the Lord, or perhaps we can relate to him because of the simple fact that we are living in a culture that is much like the culture that Josiah lived in—only his was far worse than ours.
And while we may live in a culture where we praise the wrong things, Josiah set out to break the dysfunctional cycle of what he had experienced. Second Kings 22:2 says this: “He (speaking of Josiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
Now we know that David was not Josiah’s real father, but rather it was one of his forefathers. And David’s reputation as a Godly leader was an inspiration to Godly Jews for decades and centuries to come.
But here’s what I want you to see: Josiah chose to break the cycle.
Maybe you didn’t have the greatest dad. Maybe you don’t feel like you are the greatest dad. We all can relate. But you hold within you the ability to change things. Your dad may’ve been abusive. He may’ve been arrogant. He may’ve been condescending in his talks with you. He may have had no walk with the Lord. But you can change things. Will you start a healthy cycle? Or if you had a legacy of love given to you from your parents, will you continue that cycle?
The parallel of seeing God as a father makes a lot of sense to many people, especially if they had a spiritual, loving father. But for those of you who were not close to your dad, it becomes very difficult when you hear us say that God is your Heavenly Father. In fact, it becomes a stretch at best for you.
Sometimes I hear people say to me as Father’s Day is approaching, “Why do preachers on Mother’s Day give a soft and fluffy sermon but on Father’s Day they beat up on the dads?” Well, let me just say to you, that is not my goal. My goal is not to beat up dads. But I will say this: Men tend to respond better to a challenge. So hopefully at the end of this message you will feel both challenged and also encouraged, fathers.
And I want to talk simply about three different habits that you as a dad can do and bestow upon your children. And let me tell you what they are from the outset so you know where I’m going: affirming words, active involvement and spiritual leadership.
We’ll start with affirming words. Bill Glass leads a national ministry to those who are in prison, to inmates. And Bill talks about going to a large prison facility, speaking to hundreds…nearly a thousand different inmates at one time…and he looked out at them and said, “I’ve got a question for you. How many of you heard one of your parents say to you time and time again, ‘One of these days you’re gonna end up in prison’?” And Bill Glass said that nearly every inmate raised his hand.
There is power in your words. Words are important. That’s why some of you need to decide that you’re gonna break the cycle. You can choose to tear down with your words, or you can choose to lift up with your words. And your kids know which one your more natural bent is toward.