Part 11 of the Present day Patriarchs series.
Genesis 33:12 – And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee.
Genesis 33:13 – And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if the men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.
Genesis 33:14 – Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.
It takes wisdom to accomplish what Jacob did in the scripture passage above. Jacob decides to lead his own family, and now he recognizes another important factor: the pace at which he would lead his family. Esau and his four hundred men were equipped for speed and traveling light. Jacob and his family had all their belongings and a broad range of ages to work with. Jacob realized there were two different dynamics at hand: Esau and his four hundred, and Jacobs’ developing children.
Jacob decided to lead at a different pace, a pace that even the youngest of children could keep up with. There are three things that a father must be concerned with, progress, process, and pace. If you protect and perfect the latter, the other two will take care of themselves.
1. Jacob realized his children are tender. They are easily hurt and quickly harmed. They are in the process of being developed. There minds aren’t as quick as adults and their bodies aren’t nearly as mature. Every father needs to recognize his children’s tenderness. Perhaps take a tour through the New Testament and reflect on all the passages which speak of our heavenly Father; and notice He is gentle, longsuffering, and patient.
2. Jacob knew men have a tendency to drive and over-drive. So he decided to lead. To drive your children is to have motivation without developing the proper motives. Driving tends to cause your children to respond to your direction and correction out of fear and not obedience derived from love. Driving them into living out spiritual principles will lead to legalism and not godliness. Don’t drive your children – lead them. I’m not advocating laziness; rather I am speaking of progress which flows from understanding and personal processing.
3. Softly lead. Be gentle and understanding. Let the firm hand of correction be soft as well. You don’t want your children to be afraid of God. Present a personal savior that is loving and merciful. It’s ok to make mistakes. You must create a culture in your home that allows for failure. Correction must come with great concern and care.
4. This is a journey not a sprint. Jacob was afraid that if his children were over-driven that they would die in one day. Jacob wasn’t interested in just one day; he was planning for a lifetime. Training, leading and mentoring your children is the work of a lifetime. This isn’t a crash course. This is a journey. Make sure that the pace you set enables your children to endure.
5. Teach on your children’s level. Jacob was an apt teacher. Note how he talked to Esau about God. He used the common name ‘Elohim’ instead of a covenant name like ‘Jehovah’. Jacob knew that Esau a godless man wouldn’t be able to relate to a covenant God, so he referred to the God of creation. I’m sure that Jacob taught his children in the same manner. Using picture bibles, general bible stories, and different children’s media can really help your children grasp powerful truths.
6. Deuteronomy 6:20 literally guaranteed us questions would be coming. If and when your children ask questions do you have good answers? Can you show them clearly in the bible the why behind the what? Children learn best by having the why explained often. Can you answer their why’s concerning: salvation, God, personal convictions, sin, heaven, forgiveness, etc?
7. If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it’s stupid. Jacob understood well the creative makeup of his children. Genesis 49 shows Jacob appreciated and developed these differences. Don’t expect your children to be identical twins. Understand them and use wisdom to aid in their development.
Perfect the Pace:
1. Have you exegeted your children? Do you understand their differences? What kind of pace can they handle?
2. Are you able to adjust your pace according to different seasons of life?
3. Are you continually learning? Reading books, blogs, etc. A well-read father is a father who can relay truth in a relevant fashion.
4. Are you currently driving your children? Do you need to repent of this and start leading?
5. Are you thinking journey or fast track?
6. How well do you handle your children’s spiritual questions? Remember, questions aren’t atheism.
7. Do you need to pick up the pace or slow it down?
8. Are you and your wife in agreement on discipline and development?
9. Do they understand servant hood? If not, what else do they need to be taught?
10. How established is their theology of Jesus?
11. Do your children have their own beliefs, or are they mirroring what you believe without grasping the why behind the what?
12. Do you have time set aside each day, or even weekly where your family spends time studying and learning spiritual concepts?
13. Can your children explain why they do what they do to their friends?
14. Is the gap between your families pace (beliefs, lifestyle), and the worlds widening, staying the same or getting smaller?