Teach them Diligently to Your Children: Fatherhood and Reading Scripture

During the month of January, five different men are contributing guest posts in our "The Family Man that Follows Jesus" series. It will give me a month off, so I can spend time with my growing family, and I am really excited to personally learn from the series myself.

This week, Caleb Drahosh, a pastorat Buffalo City Church, a new church plant in Jamestown, North Dakota. Caleb has written about reading the Scriptures from the perspective of a Husband and Father. Caleb was the best man at my wedding, and someone whom I deeply respect. He is working as a bi-vocational pastor, planting a church in the growing city of Jamestown and his post this week is a great reminder that we do not read Scripture in isolation. A more complete bio of Caleb is available at the end of the post.

A dry season

Just a few short years ago I couldn’t picture myself driving a minivan. And just this last week I bought one. And I’m cool with it. What changed? My life situation.

We affirm that the truths contained within God’s Word never change. But we humans--in our gross mutability--are always standing in a different spot. It’s like beholding a breathtaking landscape and then moving twenty yards to the right and discovering a whole new facet of beauty.

I found recently that I was struggling to engage Scripture as I had previously, even just a few weeks earlier. I felt lost as I plowed through James, Romans, and Lamentations in my quiet times and I preached some pretty poor sermons. Being a rigidly formulaic and structured person, I dusted off my copy of Mortimer J. Adler’s How to Read A Book, convinced that I needed to brush up on my understanding of genre and authorial intent.

Nothing.

A shift in perspective

Even though I’ve been married for over seven years and am a dad to two young boys, I quickly began to realize I had moved twenty yards to the right, but I was engaging Scripture as a guy still standing in a previous position. I was desperately straining to get the view of the landscape that relied upon a significantly different orientation.

If that doesn’t quite make sense, consider the admonition given in the Shema:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Do you see that imperative buried in there to “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house?” As a husband and a father to two kids it’s commanded to me, that I make my home a place that bathes in the commands of Scripture.

Solomon gets this. He’s responding directly to the imperatives in the Shema in the Proverbs:

My son, do not forget my teaching,
                        but let your heart keep my commandments,
            for length of days and years of life
                        and peace they will add to you. (Proverbs 3:1-2)

Solomon’s engagement with the law includes an understanding that he needs to be able to reproduce the truths contained therewithin to his son.

And this is where a shift in my own orientation to the text had changed. It is my duty as a husband and dad to consider the implications of Scripture for my family in every instance. I no longer read the Bible as a single dude with little to no responsibility; I read it as a husband and a father.

It is my duty to consider the implications of Scripture for my family.

Reading Scripture for more than ourselves

In a heavily individualistic society and a Christian culture that hasn’t always adequately resisted said individualism, we are trained to approach Scripture and read it with ourselves as the primary beneficiary. But we need to approach a text with a question that removes “me” from the place of prominence. We need to consider our families and be prepared to saturate our homes in gospel imperatives; imperatives that we are free to observe as those who are in Christ.

This is where mission begins. I am fully convinced that one reason Christians are bad at making disciples, is because we fail to note our own situation in life. When we read our Bible, we don’t properly consider our spouse, kids, coworkers, fellow students, the cashier at the grocery store, or the mailman. We don't properly consider our own situation as husband, father, coworker, neighbor or friend. When we begin to engage the text as one who lives in a dynamic world and not a vacuum, we will always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. (1 Peter 3:15)”

It’s important that we ask questions about authorial intent and genre like “what were minivans intended for?” and “how does a minivan illuminate my understanding of motor vehicles as compared to mid-sized sedans?” But those questions don’t get you into the minivan. We only get there by being a parent. And--like Solomon--we behold the beauty of the landscape that is set before us when we grapple with where our feet are currently fixed; my feet are fixed in the place of fatherhood and my approach to Scripture is as one who seeks to diligently teach the truths of Scripture to my children.

More about Caleb

Caleb grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis before moving to Fargo to study at North Dakota State University. While at NDSU, he met his beautiful wife Rebekah and received his call to ministry. After graduation, Caleb and Bek moved to Louisville, KY to study at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Caleb received his Master of Divinity. They have two sons and are helping to plant Buffalo City Church, a new church in Jamestown, ND. Caleb is striving to see transformed lives engage in Spirit-empowered worship, Christlike service, and gospel-saturated community, resulting in multiplying congregations.