Being a Father - Being a Child
“Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’" (1 Peter 5:2-5)
Today, I would truly like to explore with you some attitudes of being a father (v. 2-4) and being a child (v. 5) from the preceding Bible passage. Although this passage is an admonishment to elders and members of a church, the principles within can be applied to a family because the family is a microcosm of the church.
He who is a father has to recognize that he is the shepherd of his family. He has to shepherd his family members who are entrusted to him by God. They belong to God and not to him. His role is the overseer, and he has to follow the will of the Lord in his stewardship of the flock. He must understand that God will directly reckon with them in the future. Peter points out that there should be three attitudes when one is functioning as a shepherd –
1. “Not because you must, but because you are willing” – this shows that one must act not just be out of duty, otherwise that would lead to working to rule, and not just have the appearance of obligation, but lack love within. All that a father does must be out of love. There is no off-duty period; it’s a lifetime commitment. Your emotions will be linked to the children. Their births make you so rapturous that you cannot keep still. When they butt heads with you, you are so angry as to lose your appetite. Seeing them suffer cuts to your heart, and your grief cannot be expressed. Their gratifications and accomplishments keep you joyful through the night. This type of passionate relationship with your children does not change regardless of whether there are any returns from your actions.
2. “Not greedy for money, but eager to serve” – all that a father relinquishes for his children is not for any anticipated rewards. A father does not offer up anything so as to gain back some benefit from the persons of his children. The attitude of a father is that he will undertake even lowly tasks for his children without any regard. So a father will not favour a particular child because he or she is smarter and may have a better future.
3. “Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” – this is a question of power. In life, children certainly have to cleave to their father. But a father must not use manipulation to control his offspring – whether it is by tyranny, threats, bribery, even ridicule or playing the “poor me” card. A father should act as an example, keep his word, follow his own advice, and never be hypocritical.
Since we are not certain of gaining back any benefit from the persons of our children, our hope then is that when Christ our Lord returns, we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. May we today function as loyal parents, truly love our offspring, and help them love God and fellow man according to the will of God.
You who are children are also reminded by Peter to be submissive and clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. This is not just in deed, but in attitude as well, for these are the roles assigned by God. In a family there should after all be order, procedure, leader and follower, and not an anarchic state. It is supremely natural for children to be submissive to their parents. So, “children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1) If children can better acknowledge that the attitudes of their parents towards them are all motivated by love, then they will be more tolerant, more patiently accepting, more respectful and appreciative of their parents even though they may be rather nagging, and seize all opportunities to make them happy! Treasure every moment you can be with your parents, and affirm that that is a blessing from God. Try to pay back the effort spent on our persons by God through our parents, and support them with our prayers. That too is a practical way to honour them.
By: Esther Hung