In Ephesians 6:4 the Apostle Paul writes, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (NIV). I find it interesting that this admonition is addressed to fathers. Why not both parents, fathers and mothers, or why not just mothers? It would seem that many men these days leave
the religious training of the children up to mom. But you will notice in this verse that the Apostle specifically lays this responsibility at the feet of fathers.
This is not to say that mom should withhold such vital instruction and training. We know from Scripture that Timothy’s mother and grandmother played a key role in instilling Godly values in him (2 Tim. 1:5). In fact, his father was a pagan (Ac. 16:1)! So a mother can and should try influence her children for God if dad falls short, or is not a believer, or is not even around. Having said that, the verse under consideration is addressed to fathers. The question is, why? Why has God given fathers the primary responsibility for training and instructing their children when it comes to the Christian faith? Perhaps one of the most extensive studies on the family ever taken helps explain why.
In this study, two sociologists, doctors Bankston and Acock, from the University of Southern California, found that it is the father, not the mother, that most influences religions beliefs, church attendance, and moral values in their children. Dr. Bankston wrote, “We found to our surprise, that in almost every area except religion— feelings about work, politics, marriage, economics— young people’s attitudes most closely matched those of their mother. But in the area of religion, the father’s attitude prevailed.”
Perhaps this helps explain why the Apostle Paul directs his admonition to fathers when it comes to training and instructing their children in the Lord. Obviously, God already knew what the above study revealed. Apparently He designed fathers to instill His values in their children and for their children to be influenced by them in this area. Men, if you are like me, this is more than a sobering thought! God has given us a tremendous responsibility when it comes to training our children for Him. Of course this means that we also have the responsibility to know the ways of the Lord ourselves. Like Timothy, we all need to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV).” In short, fellows, when it comes to our fatherly responsibility we are to learn all we can about our Heavenly Father and pass it on to our children. Apparently that is “God’s plan for the man!”