Learning To Listen

“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.”

Deuteronomy 6:4

If I could go back and live my life over again as a Father there are a lot of things I would do differently. As James Dobson once said regarding being a dad, “If I could go back and start over again as a father I would do less for my kids and do more with my kids”. That always stuck with me through the years and now almost 40 years since becoming a dad for the first time I think I have a pretty good vantage point. For me, if I could go back to the beginning when I first became a father I would dedicate my life to one thing more than all the others combined and that being teaching my children how to listen, and by listen I mean listen to God, to recognize, and to trust His voice.

It’s interesting in Deuteronomy 6 which in the Jewish faith is called the “Shema”, is a declaration within the Jewish faith that God not only exists but that He is the only true existence. Nothing is as important in life than God and knowing Him. The “Shema” stresses that God is to be listened to and obeyed, adored and followed. And what I find really interesting is how God has called Father’s to be the primary voice in the life of their children. Dads are to be the main voice in instructing his children how to listen to God. Do you think God knew what He was saying and do you think God was really serious about it being the Father who would have the primary responsibility to “impress” the words of God into the hearts and minds of his children? If you question God’s calling without providing us the reasoning let me share with you statistics some 3000 years after God first gave the command to Dads.

I read recently that 63% of all suicides occur in fatherless homes and that 90% of run aways are from fatherless homes. 85% of all children with behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes, and 71% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes. 75% of all adolescent chemical abuse patients in drug treatment centers are from fatherless homes, and 85% of all youth in prison are from fatherless homes. The point is no one can down play the influence that a father, and especially as godly father has over the lives of his children in the home.

Behavioral scientists tell us as well that the healthiest homes are homes where both Dad and mom are present in the lives of their children with moms being the primary providers of intimacy, care and nurture where dads help their children learn how to make decisions and to determine their value system. Those secular conclusions only reinforce the need for godly Father’s in the home. Think about it for a moment, a Father helps his children learn to hear the voice of God by being God’s voice in the life of his children in their formidable years. When children hear the voice of God as their earthly father teaches his children the word of God, the children connect the voice of their Heavenly Father to that of their earthy Father.

Its much easier for a child to trust the voice of their Heavenly Father with whom they cannot see when they have enjoyed the benefit of an earthly Father who loves them, cares for them, provides for them and is there for them. It’s obvious how much easier it is for a child to put their trust in the voice of their Heavenly Father when they have already learned they can trust the voice of their earthly father.

Multiple studies have consistently shown that 1 in 50 kids will become a worshipper of Jesus in a home where only the mother faithfully attends church where as 66% of kids where the role is reversed in a single parent home where their dad goes to church, 66% of those children attend church faithfully. Maybe the Lord knew all along the influence a godly father would have on his children in learning how to listen to the voice of God.

I share all that to say Father’s Day has come and gone but the need for godly Father’s goes on and on. Pray for the Dad’s you know today to do everything within their power to make sure their children, regardless of their age are listening to God. You might be thinking, how on earth can I get my child to listen to God if they don’t go to church or even own a bible? It’s easier than you think. They still have you! Let the words of Peter encourage your heart today…

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”

1 Peter 4:10–11


Michael Osthimer





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