The Influence of a Father
While recently reading Ian Murray’s biography of John MacArthur, one of the things that stuck with me the most was the way John talks about his father, Jack MacArthur. Though I have no kids of my own yet, I pray that the my children would one day speak of me the way John MacArthur speaks of his father.It was my father’s preaching that made the greatest impact. You don’t grow up a pastor’s son without hearing a few thousand sermons — some more than once. While I may have occasionally nodded off in the pew, much of what I heard stuck. In fact, a few of his sermons stand out clearly in my mind to this day. What I found as I watched — and what has most profoundly influenced me — was that my father’s life rang true. His actions and his attitudes didn’t change according to where he was or whom he was with. He lived by the same standard he encouraged his family and congregation to embrace, and by doing so, refused to give us an excuse to compromise. In a word, what he taught me was the value of integrity.*
Now John MacArthur is a well-known pastor. Most of us are not. But the point rings true all the same. We all preach something. We all encourage some standard of behavior and conduct to those we have influence over.
This is especially true as parents. Parents constantly instruct children to live life to a certain standard. And it is the responsibility of the father to set and enforce this certain standard.
So we must ask ourselves if our life, if our conduct, rings true to our preaching. Do we live the same manner of life that we encourage others and especially our kids to live?
Father, will your children be able to look back and say that your integrity was something that highly influenced them? Or do you preach an ethic that you never live up to? Are you giving your kids an excuse? If you say you are a Christian, if you take your kids to church and let them see you there as a believer, and yet your life is void of the integrity that should characterize one who has been born again, woe to you. For that may have serious negative consequences on your child and his and her faith.
Repent. Live a life of integrity. Practice what you preach. For some of you, the reality may be that you are not truly a Christian. You can’t live up to the Christian ethic because you are not born again. Without the indwelling presence of the Spirit of the Living God, such a task is impossible.
Repent. Trust in Christ. Believe the gospel.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
*Quotation taken from John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock, page 8-9.