The Concerns of a Christian Father 

Proverbs 22.6

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • June 21, In the year of our Lord, 2015


  1. There must be something special about fatherhood, because
    1. God choose it for Himself
    2. that we might understand our relationship with Him.
  2. What is on the heart of a Christian father? 


  1. Training His Children 
    1. There are three beautiful things (Leroy Brownlow):

      Flowers whose color appeals to the eye.
      Music whose sound appeals to the ear.
      Children whose devotion appeals to the heart.

    2. Cultivation brings out the best in all three:
      1. Beautiful flower gardens do not just happen, someone works it.
      2. Beautiful music does not just happen, someone composes it.
      3. Beautiful children do not just happen, someone trains them.
    3. Therefore, the Bible tells us to train our children.
      1. Proverbs 22 is a well-known but misapplied passage.

        6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
        And when he is old he will not depart from it.
        (Pro 22.6)

        1. We typically read this passage like this:
          1. Train up a child to be a Christian, and
          2. when he is old he will never fall away.
            1. If he does fall away,
            2. you failed.
        2. This reading causes endless grief.
      2. Does this verse refer to religion?
        1. Does it teach that children have no choice?
        2. Does it teach that all is dependent upon the parents?
      3. Consider this meaning.
        1. The marginal reference of the Old ASV,
          1. on the words, “in the way he should go,” is this note,
          2. “Heb. according to his way.”
            1. What does that mean?
            2. Is it saying that the children should set the rules?
        2. The idea is this,

          “As the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.”

          1. It should not be bent contrary to its nature.
          2. Train a child according to his, not our, nature and disposition.
      4. William McGuffey (of McGuffey’s Readers fame) on Proverbs 22.6.
        1. This passage deals with a child’s, not the parent’s,
        2. character, mentality, habits, and skill, not his Christianity.
      5. Consider this about two great Americans.
        1. Have you heard of Pop Warner?
          1. Growing up as a kid, to me,
          2. it was simply the football equivalent of little league.
            1. Later, I learned that he was a famous football coach and
            2. that he trained one of America’s greatest athletes ever.

              Pop Warner, a football coach, had a bunch of Indians on his football team. He tried to get them in shape. He had them doing calisthenics like all football players do. They didn’t like it. He couldn’t get them to do it. He didn’t say all Indians were lazy because these boys didn’t do the calisthenics to get in shape. Instead, Pop Warner went around and talked with some of the Indian parents to find out what could be done. With their help, he figured out a new way to motivate them. He loaded his Indian players on the school bus and went two miles away from the college. He put each one of the players off the bus and handed them a tow sack. He said, “Take this tow sack, go out there and catch two rabbits any way you want to. Then run back to town as fast as you can.” They did it! They got in shape. He learned to motivate these fellows based on their background, not based on his. As a direct result, he had a nation’s champion in his caliber of football teams. There was one fellow in particular, a 158-pound fullback who was not very big for a fullback, but was a great athlete. His name was Jim Thorpe. I doubt that Jim Thorpe could have become the outstanding athlete that he was if Pop Warner had not learned to motivate him based on his background (Monroe and Ehninger, Speech Communication, Page 115).

        2. When a father guides his children according to their
          1. interests,
          2. desires,
          3. talents and natural skills,
          4. they excel.
        3. General Patton’s mother noticed certain capabilities in him
          1. so she read stories of great men to him,
          2. whom he sought to imitate.
    4. Therefore, Christian fathers know the four areas of training,

      52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2.52).

      1. Wisdom—intellectual capability
      2. Stature—physical capability
      3. Favor with God—spiritual capability
      4. Favor with men—social capability
    5. In training our children, remember the idea of Edward Markham,

      We are all blind until we see
      That in the human plan
      Nothing is worth the making if
      It does not make the man.
      Why build these cities glorious
      If man unbuilded goes?
      In vain we build the work unless
      The builder also grows.

  2. Providing For His Family 
    1. What a grave responsibility!

      8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1Ti 5.8).

      1. A father without natural affection for his own children
      2. is worse than an atheist.
    2. Most fathers know their responsibility and
      1. carry it well.
      2. He knows the burden is part of manhood.
    3. Christian fathers also know
      1. that material provisions are only a means to an end, because
      2. his children do not live by bread alone, but
        1. by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
        2. Therefore, the Christian father works on the spirit of his children.
    4. He knows that his manner of life matters (A Father’s World, pp. 30–31),

      A father had the day off and decided to spend it at the bar. As he was going, he heard behind him, “Go ahead, daddy, I’m walking in your steps,” trying to place his feet where his daddy had stepped. The father, realizing that he had worked to provide for his children’s physical needs, suddenly realized that there is more than giving them what their bodies need, turned and picked up his boy, and said, “My foot steps are not going to lead you there.”

  3. Building a Family
    1. Why does a man have a family?
    2. Psalm 127 states what is indescribable for us fathers,

      3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
      The fruit of the womb is a reward.
      4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
      So are the children of one’s youth.
      5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
      They shall not be ashamed,
      But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
      (Psa 127.3–5)

      1. He wants a heritage.
      2. He wants to make an impact on his world.
    3. He does not want to be like the father in Harry Chapin’s son, “The Cat’s in the Cradle,”
      1. which was inspired by a poem his wife, Sandy Chapin, wrote, because
      2. of her husband’s life on the road, and
        1. her raising the children alone. (The boy is Chapin’s son Josh)
        2. [On the handout]
  4. Restoring Wayward Children
    1. Yearning for restoration of his children shows the heart of the father.
      1. Second Samuel 13–18 is the story of the rebellion of Absalom.
        1. After his son had been killed while in rebellion, David wept deeply,

          33 Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!” (2Sa 18.33).
        2. Nothing else mattered to David.
        3. Longfellow wrote of David,

          There is no far nor near,
          There is neither there nor here,
          There is neither soon nor late,
          In that Chamber over the Gate.
          Nor any long ago
          To that cry of human Woe,
          “O Absalom, my son!”
          That ‘tis a common grief
          Bringeth but sleight relief;
          Ours is the bitterest loss,
          Ours is the heaviest cross;
          And forever the cry will be,
          “Would God I had died for thee,
          Absalom, my son!”

      2. Truly,

        “The father’s heart beats not so much for himself as it does for his offspring” (Leroy Brownlow).

      3. David won a war, but lost another.
        1. He lost a foolish son, but
        2. Absalom was David’s son.
    2. The story of the Prodigal Son shows
      1. the yearning father building a home
      2. to which a wayward child wants to return.
        1. A home where there is no partiality (Luke 15.11–12).
        2. A home where love is so common that his children did not realize how ugly the world could be (Luke 15.13–16).
        3. A home where thoughts of the home his father built make the children come to themselves and repent (Luke 15.17–19).
          1. We are not surprised to read of the anxious father’s response,
            1. running to greet his son,
            2. falling upon his neck, and
            3. kissing him (Luke 15.20–24).
          2. We are not surprised to read of his desire to reconcile his wayward son, considering him as back from the dead (Luke 15.25–32).
  5. Hearing Instruction (The Book of Proverbs is the writing of a father to his son)

    8 My son, hear the instruction of your father,
    And do not forsake the law of your mother.
    (Pro 1.8)

    1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
    And give attention to know understanding.
    (Pro 4.1)

    1. He wants his children to serve
      1. rather than to be served,

        45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10.42–45).
      2. Lazy and unappreciative children are embarrassing and irritating.
    2. He wants his children to strive for excellence,
      1. as Solomon said (Ecc 9.10),
        1. doing with their might,
        2. whatever their hand finds to do, and
      2. as Paul said (Col 3.23),
        1. remembering that whatever they do,
        2. they should do it heartily as though they are doing it to the Lord.


  1. Fathers, you carry an immense load.
    1. God created you to be able to do it.
    2. We appreciate your concern for us.
  2. You help us understand God. 
    1. He chose to be called a Father.
    2. We hope that He is your Father.
  3. Fathers, we esteem you highly. 
  4. Walk with God, 
    1. the ultimate Father, and
    2. you shall succeed as a father.