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A Father's Influence

Three ways living a life of worship to God can influence our children.
I remember a recent worship service in church. I had my hands up and was enjoying God’s presence. Opening my eyes, I noticed my 12-year-old son, Omar, standing next to me. His hands were down, he wasn’t singing, and he looked really bored. He stood because his parents required it. But he wasn’t worshipping.

For a moment, I was frustrated with Omar. I thought: Isaac, Samuel, David, Josiah all learned to worship and revere God at an early age! What’s wrong with my son? What am I not doing right?

Then I remembered how I was at the same age. As a youngster, I often resented church and thought it was boring. “Church stuff” didn’t interest me. But my parents valued, exemplified, and frequently spoke about things like worship. Their influence made a huge difference in the way I engage in worship now as an adult.

We so desperately want our children to know and follow Jesus, but we have absolutely zero control over their ultimate decisions. For men (especially fathers), realizing we don’t have control is incredibly frustrating.

Failing as a father is my greatest fear. I’ve imagined a horrifying scenario where I reach heaven and realize my child didn’t make it because I failed somehow as a parent. But the good news is that God puts every father in a position to utilize something else which is stronger than control in its impact, and much gentler in its application. Influence.

My parents couldn’t control my spiritual journey, but they certainly influenced it.

Worship is an important dimension of a disciple of Jesus. Worship is not all about music. Worship is expression of love, adoration, and submission towards God and there are numerous non-musical ways a father can influence his child’s relationship with God through his expressions of worship. Here are three of the ways your worship can influence your children.

Are your words about the church, the pastors, other people, and the world in general the kind of words that glorify Christ? How you are in public is one thing. But what are you like and what do you say when it’s just you and the family at home?

A man of God who worships knows how to please God, glorify Him, and celebrate His goodness in speaking about the little things in life.

For example, I recently hopped off the tractor on our farm and walked over to Omar in the garden as he was holding one of the chickens. I told him I was just checking on him, and then added what a nice time I just had on the tractor worshipping and praising God for making the fields, trees, animals, and beautiful blue sky. Omar just listened as I used the moment to influence the way he looks at his surroundings and the One who created all of it.

Paul writes to his spiritual son, Timothy, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands…” (1 Timothy 2:8, ESV). Men in the early church physically demonstrated worship and surrender to God.

Now many men claim they aren’t “demonstrative” or “emotional,” especially in public. But that’s not accurate. Remember the last time your team lost a big game, or someone irritated you? You demonstrated emotion pretty clearly, didn’t you? Fathers, we must get past whatever it is that keeps us spiritually motionless and on the bench. We’ve got to let our children see and hear us worship God.

When it’s time to worship, I want Omar to see me lift at least one hand in praise and surrender to God. That simple action communicates several things. First, it shows that I am humble enough to reach out physically towards God. Every penitent, Christ-following man must do that. Second, it demonstrates that my relationship with God is one of emotional intimacy. Third, it builds the church! People listen to the pulpit, but they watch the pews (or chairs) to see what men do. If newcomers see men engage in worship, it tells them the church is a spiritually mature and safe place for their family.

Think of it, the simple lifting of a hand or arm can powerfully influence your child or even another family of visitors.

Men are uniquely gifted and created by God to be doers, fixers, resolvers, accomplishers, builders, and defenders. In these areas, we as fathers influence our children towards deeper relationship with God as we express worship through giving, sacrifice, and taking action to help build God’s kingdom.

My dad prayed over every dollar he gave to the church or missionaries. I was aware he didn’t earn a lot of money. But dad gave with incredible joy and expectation of what God would do with his offerings. Dad influenced the way I now view my own finances and attitude toward giving.

Also, my dad told our neighbors about Jesus. He even painted on the front of our house in big black letters, the words, “The Lord Jesus: Your Savior and Healer.” Every time I pull into dad’s driveway now and see those letters, I’m challenged to tell another person about Jesus. My dad’s influence continues to impact me! And I want my son to have the same experience in his life.

Our worship, in all its many forms, will influence the next generation.

To learn about more ways to influence your children, and make them into disciples of Jesus, check out some of the free materials available at www.discipleship.ag.org.

Dan Kersten

Dan Kersten is communications and development director for National Men’s Ministries and Light for the Lost. He is a writer, photographer, and ordained Assemblies of God minister. He lives in Republic, Missouri.