The Father: 6.1 Use Your Office
By Joel Hilliker
Pay close attention to this important statement from The Plain Truth About Child Rearing: “Just as God has set offices in His Church for rulership and government (Ephesians 4:11), so He has set offices in the home!”
The husband holds a God-appointed office. So too does the wife. When you have children, you step into the office of father.
There is power in that word office. Think of the ordinary citizen who is inaugurated into the office of president of the United States. Think of the man who becomes a commanding officer, who then has other lives depending on him. In the same way, your wedding day inaugurates you into an office of formidable responsibility. And your child’s birth expands your responsibility and authority even further.
We don’t tend to think of ourselves as officials, authorities, representatives, commissioned officers, captains in day-to-day matters. How many of us woke up today and thought, I’m the commanding officer of this family?
God made these offices because He has commissioned specific jobs to be done within your marriage and within the lives of your children.
Look at the scripture referred to above. The Apostle Paul recorded that God “gave gifts unto men” (verse 8). What are these gifts? The governmental offices within the Church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers (verse 11). When God gives a position of authority, He is giving a gift—not to the officeholder, but to those under that individual.
This is especially so within a family. The offices of husband and wife, father and mother are marvelous gifts that, properly fulfilled, will bring a family blessings.
For your children to receive the benefits God wants them to have, you must magnify your office as a father. (This principle also applies to your office as a husband, and to your wife’s as a wife and mother.) Are you fulfilling your office as God intends?
The Responsibility of Your Office
In writing Who Is ‘That Prophet’?, Gerald Flurry meditated on and wrestled with the office of prophet. “I need to better understand what God requires of this office,” he writes. There is a principle here. An exalted office is not about exalting a man, it is about understanding a responsibility. It is not a destination for the officeholder, but a channel between the people under him and the Supreme Commander. It is God requiring something of a man—for the benefit of the Church and the world.
How well do you understand what God requires of your office? That office is bigger than you are. It is not a prize; it is a tool. You must see what God seeks to accomplish. Submit to God’s commission so He can do wonderful things in your children’s lives
“Grappling with heavy responsibility is never easy,” Mr. Flurry continues. “Coming to realize the weight of his office caused Jonah to run. It has caused me to think about that a couple of times. Perhaps it has you too, because of what God has called you to do.” When God gives you responsibility, do not run from it.
In Romans 11:13, Paul declared, “I magnify mine office” as an apostle. Why? In order to save people (verse 14). The office is there to build the spiritual Family.
Parents must also consider the power of their offices and use them to build the family. The husband must use his office. The wife must use her office to magnify her husband’s office.
When a child is born, these God-ordained offices are already in place. The father assumes the role of God the Father in the child’s life. The child’s whole life is shaped within a God Family environment. The Father intends every child to have the benefit of a godly father and mother who teach proper fear of parental authority and turn those children’s hearts toward Him. This is why He put us in these parental offices. What a marvelous plan.
“Children should be taught to look up to the office and authority of their parents. The child who truly loves his parents will be able to experience an even fuller love if he is also taught a deep inner sense of respect toward his parents” (The Plain Truth About Child Rearing).
Do your wife and children respond favorably and cheerfully to your direction? Do they try to make your decisions work? Answering these questions can require tough honesty.
Leading your family is difficult. It requires self-sacrifice and sometimes making unpopular decisions. But as hard as it is, the long-term benefits are incomparable. Our children need, actually crave, strong fatherly leadership.
Male Authority Is Important
A father should lead his home with loving leadership. In our society, this statement arouses hostility from many intellectuals, politicians and regular folks. As a result, many men do not know how to properly establish authority in their own household. They haven’t seen it done. They hear that it is evil by its very nature, and they are not even sure they should do it because society around them seethes at even the thought of it.
That is a major reason why society is as deeply troubled as it is!
As a man, you need to clear your mind of society’s erroneous biases and agendas and learn to view parental authority the way the Creator of parents, children and family views it.
The Fifth Commandment says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).
Modern child rearing focuses on building rapport with children, doing things together, developing a friendship. If this is your entire approach, you will have serious problems. The foundation of your relationship with your children must include establishing your authority. You must teach them to respect your office.
The Fifth Commandment establishes God’s government in the home. It places parents in authority over children. Of course, though it is specifically directed at children, we parents must be the ones to train and instruct our children to honor us, and to then enforce the command. The person who must make sure this commandment is in force in your family is you.
Leviticus 19:3 amplifies the commandment: “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father ….” God commands not only honor, but also fear. This is talking about an attitude of the heart. It is a deep reverence toward parents and a respect for their law. As the primary law-enforcer for the family, you must command respect. This includes a fear to fall under your judgment. In so doing, you actually teach your children a vital spiritual principle: reverencing God the Father.
This word fear is the same word God uses in commanding us to fear Him (e.g. Deuteronomy 10:12-13; see also Luke 12:5). Your children’s interactions with you establish their future relationship with God. And that relationship begins with proper fear (e.g. Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33).
This is the profound truth: We prepare our children to revere God and respect His law by teaching them to revere us and respect our law.
This is God’s law. We must not reason around it. And the only way our children will learn to obey this law is if we teach them. We must establish that reverence in our children for the office of both father and mother. We must love our children enough to enforce God’s law in their lives. It is the only way to get our families right.
Many people will wring their hands over the mention of words like authority, respect, honor, enforce, fear, reverence. They will imagine deadbeat, selfish fathers who beat their children and use their authority selfishly. But that is obviously not what God wants. He wants a strong father who leads his family by using his authority to serve them. This is what that authority is for. This is what fatherhood itself is for.
Don’t underestimate how important it is to God that we get the government right with our children. God explicitly forbids children from hitting their parents or even cursing them (Exodus 21:15, 17). Curses in verse 17 means to bring contempt, despise, esteem lightly or make light. We see this commandment broken everywhere in society today: children back-talking, sassing, treating parents as the butt of jokes, laughing at them, mocking their authority. (See also Deuteronomy 27:16.)
But don’t look at other families. Make this personal. Is this law being kept in your home? Imagine, in ancient Israel, how diligent parents would have been to enforce this law, knowing the consequences if they failed! It may seem cruel, but it motivated parents and children to respect government in their families. If this law were kept perfectly, the number of children who suffered this penalty would drop to zero overnight!
If you think this commandment doesn’t apply today, read where Jesus Christ backed it up in Matthew 15:4. Obviously we don’t apply the same penalty today that God commanded anciently—but spiritually, our children do come under the death penalty for this sin, and God requires that they repent of it!
If you love your children, you will do all you can to make sure they don’t come under that penalty! It makes the promise within the Fifth Commandment far more meaningful—that children who honor their parents will live long.
Use That Manly Voice
As man of the house, you should be the dominant force. You should have a strong presence in your home and in your children’s lives.
Consider God’s example in ancient Israel. Before He delivered His law in the form of the Ten Commandments, God got Israel’s attention. He staged a dramatic display of thunder and lightning, accompanied by a deafening trumpet blast—“so that all the people that was in the camp trembled”! (Exodus 19:16). He blanketed Mount Sinai in a fiery cloud and caused an earthquake (verse 18). He showed power and authority, striking the literal fear of God into them! (Exodus 20:1-19).
A man should not be squeamish about striking a bit of fear into his children. There is a time for a man to get loud, to raise his voice. God gave men a deeper, more powerful voice for a reason. When the situation demands it, use it!
If a child doesn’t properly fear his father, how will he learn to fear God?
Gerald Flurry has said that his daughter told him there were times during her junior high school years when she could have made a wrong decision with her friends. She said what kept her out of trouble was that she feared her father. Is there anything wrong with a teenager staying out of trouble because she fears what her dad would do if she had to face him?
Right fear keeps us from breaking God’s law and bringing curses into our lives! This fear needs to be in your children, and you need to establish it early in their lives. In an older child who has never had such fear, it can become nearly impossible to build.
1 Kings 1 describes the rebellion of King David’s son Adonijah. Verse 6 lays the blame for Adonijah’s conduct squarely at the feet of whom? David. It says he “never restrained [his son] at any time by asking ‘What are you doing?’” (Ferrar Fenton translation). David never confronted his son! And Adonijah, lacking respect for authority, drove his own life—and almost the whole kingdom—to ruin! How it would have helped that young man had David gotten in his face and put him in his place!
A godly man is “[o]ne that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” (1 Timothy 3:4). You cannot fulfill this obligation simply by reading bedtime stories and throwing a ball around with your children. These activities are good, as we will discuss in later chapters. But they are not enough. And enjoying such activities is not the main thing God expects from you as a father. You must rule—and rule well.
The Rewards of Correction
When Jesus Christ establishes His Kingdom on Earth, “he shall rule [the nations] with a rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15; also 2:27; 12:5). He will forcibly put down rebellion in order to establish peace. That “rod of iron” will be a great blessing to all people!
Make sure you know how to use a “rod of iron” in godly love with your children when required. All children have human nature. They can and will easily develop a rebellious spirit. You have to break that rebellious spirit—without breaking your child’s spirit.
Yes, you want your children to have spirit—a right spirit, a liveliness, vivaciousness and life. They should always know that they are loved. They need encouragement and positivity. Pray for God’s help in getting the balance right. Fear is only the beginning of the relationship you need. But without it, things can really go off track in your family.
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:5-7).
Notice: Paul assumes as a basic fact of family life that a father corrects, as if it would be ridiculous for him not to do so (verses 8-9). Sadly, this is not the case in many families today, and those families are the poorer for it.
It is our duty as fathers, before God, to use our office for our families’ benefit. God intends the authority to flow from Christ, through you, and down through your wife (1 Corinthians 11:3). If you don’t fulfill your office, the chain is broken. God’s ability to lead and to bless your family is severely hampered.
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15). Even if you live with your children, neglecting them in this regard will produce shameful results. Do not neglect them. Use your God-given family government office as a gift for them. God wants to send blessings down that chain of command to His children—blessings that He considers their right to have!
One blessing your children should receive from you is justice.
God is passionate about true justice. It is truly an inspiring study into His character to see His intense concern about this. He instructs, “Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart” (Zechariah 7:9-10). We must show compassion to all, especially the neediest.
God is deeply angered by injustice and promises to avenge it. When He sees men oppressing others, when He sees leaders abusing their offices of authority, it infuriates Him. He will judge those who have executed wrong judgment, who have been unjust, who haven’t shown mercy and compassion, who have been harsh and dictatorial, who have oppressed the weak! He will punish them terribly for their terrible treatment of fellow man (read verses 11-14).
We must build God’s passion for justice in our dealings with all men. It is especially critical that we are diligent in aiming to be perfectly just with our children.
Godly leadership is a blessing to children and others who are helpless. Read the effects of a righteous king in Psalm 72: “He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment. … He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor” (verses 2, 4). God’s government is not oppressive—it breaks oppression (see also verses 12-14 and the rest of the psalm).
This should be the effect of your leadership within your home. A godly man is authoritative, but he does not exercise authority in an arbitrary way, terrorizing his children or acting like a dictator. He never forgets that he is under God’s authority, and accountable to God for how he uses his own authority. He practices the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23; see also Proverbs 11:17). In every situation he seeks to apply wise judgment, thus teaching his children through example about God’s passion for perfect justice.
Do Your Children Give You Rest?
Proverbs 29:17 reads, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” Meditate on this wonderful promise. It shows the positive fruits of the right kind of correction, and of establishing God’s law and government in the right way.
Wrong use of correction produces dread, terror, resentment or bitterness. Godly correction produces rest—comfort and quiet in the home. It produces peace within yourself and within your child. It causes you to delight in your children.
Do your children give you rest? Do they give delight to your soul? This is a good way to measure whether you are disciplining and instructing your children correctly. If you are, your children will be happy, free from the turmoil in their hearts caused by battling for supremacy in the family. They will not chafe at being governed, instructed, guided, corrected and loved. They will be at peace, content under the umbrella of protection and security provided by loving parents. This provides the environment under which they will truly enjoy, learn from and benefit from their time with you! It will give your whole family rest! Bring your children under your authority, and your home becomes peaceful—a nice place to be.
You see this same principle in Hebrews 12:5-11, which says God’s chastisement produces the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” in us. His correction improves our relationship with Him. We become “partakers of his holiness.” We become more the people we should be, and our hearts turn to our heavenly Father!
Be honest about your own children. Do they truly respect your office? Are they truly under your authority? If not, then you will constantly be battling with them, even when you are trying to love them!
If your children are wearing you out and getting on your nerves, if you find yourself always losing patience with them, if you don’t really enjoy them much of the time, if they’re not giving you rest, if they’re not a delight to you, then this is something you need to examine.
Evaluate the way your children behave toward you and other adults. They should not be smart-alecky, rude or presumptuous. They’re not to demand our attention or interrupt adult conversations. We shouldn’t allow them to make constant, whiny requests.
We should be able to say—before we get frazzled—“Children, you need to play quietly for a while,” and say it once, and have the children respect that command!
Assess the way you interact with your children. Tell your child to do something, and see if you get a “Yes sir,” followed by obedience. If you don’t, that is a good indication you are not properly using discipline and instruction. You have some work to do to fulfill God’s desire that you “rule well,” having your children “in subjection with all gravity.”
Have you inadvertently trained your children not to listen to you until the second, third, fourth or fifth time you say something? Have you trained them to seek what they want by whining, pleading or begging? Have you trained them not to obey you until you raise your voice?
When you tell your child to do something, expect obedience. If you don’t get it, make sure there is a consequence.
Again, if our children are really under our authority, they will not frazzle our nerves. They will give us rest, and be a delight.
God Himself is our supreme example of how to make this principle work in our homes. Read Psalm 103. It details all the ways that God expresses His love as a Father. He gives so much to His children. He blesses, He heals, He redeems, He crowns, He satisfies, He renews. He protects, He educates and instructs. He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy.
“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (verses 10-11). What a wonderful Father He is—the perfect example for all fathers!
But notice to whom God has great mercy: “them that fear him.” He extends these benefits to those who are under His authority! God does not pity the rebellious. He doesn’t extend mercy to the unrepentant. He isn’t gracious toward a “spoiled brat.” He corrects them in order to bring them to repentance so they can receive blessings.
This wonderful Father-child relationship—overflowing with blessings, mercies and affections—can only exist when a child reverences Him! The child must have a spirit of obedience, a humble, teachable attitude, an openness to instruction and correction, a fear of disobeying and coming under His judgment.
The same is true in your relationship with your children. The truly blessed connection we all want with our children is going to spring from teaching them to reverence us. If the reverence isn’t there, focus on establishing that—then bless your children as they show it. And give generously to the child who has that reverence!
The psalm continues: “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (verse 13). Pities means to love, love deeply, have mercy, be compassionate, and have tender affection. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines it as “to be soft … cherishing, soothing, and in a gentle emotion of the mind … to behold with tenderest affection ….”
What a wonderful example God sets. As our children fear us, we can build and demonstrate that same love, mercy and compassion for them. When we properly train our children to revere us, what blessings unfold!
Absenteeism and disengagement are common in fathers. For a man to be the godly head of his home, he must actively engage in child rearing. If you are not energetically involved with your children, then a lot is happening that you are unaware of. Your wife is left to do the training; she has to run the household; she has to deal with rebellion; she has to struggle with the child who is being manipulative. You simply don’t see it because you are disconnected!
God needs fathers to be connected and discerning. We must have our antenna up, remaining vigilant to our children’s attitudes and tendencies. Develop your capacity to identify rebellion, even in its subtle forms.
At Church services, make sure your children behave. You cannot focus 100 percent of your attention on the messages and expect your wife to deal with the children. When a child is very young, often it is your wife who must tend to his or her needs during services—though even then, you should be alert to and personally deal with rebellion. As children grow older, you set the expectations and ensure the children meet them, especially once they are school age and able to sit through services. Confront disruptive behavior immediately, even if only with a stern look. If you have established proper fear and respect in your children—if you rule well—then disruptions will be minimal, easily stopped, and increasingly rare.
Make sure your children know that you are the boss. You are the head! Don’t sit there while your wife struggles. Use the authority God gave you! Use it with wisdom based on the circumstances of the moment—but use it. Rule well!
It is also your responsibility to make sure your children respect their mother. They will challenge her. Make clear that you will not tolerate that. Take that burden off your wife. Back her authority over them (Proverbs 1:8; 6:20). Disrespecting her is disrespecting you and disobeying God’s commandment.
Execute your office in a way that your wife and children can really look to you as the head of the family! That is what being the head means. Never abuse God’s form of government by using your family authority selfishly. And never relinquish God’s requirement of you to rule your family well.
Remember, God put you in an office. You are not perfect; you will make mistakes. What is important is that you repent and turn to your Father for help. The parable of the prodigal son teaches us that God will always take us back when we repent (Luke 15:11-24). Don’t allow fear or guilt to immobilize you as a leader.
Solving Family Arguments
Let’s look at another specific scenario where you may be able to use your office to benefit your family.
Many men, after a long day at work, come home and withdraw from the family. But think of the needs of the family that has been without your presence all day. Perhaps your wife has been dealing with children for many hours. Not only might she be craving adult conversation and attention from her husband, at that moment she needs you to relieve her of the responsibility for the children—to take charge and lead the family.
What a difference it makes to a family to have an actively engaged man on the scene, who will push aside his own desires and truly devote himself to their needs.
On this particular day, you were chewed out at work; traffic was terrible; your nerves are shot. Then, you arrive home to have even more problems dumped on you: The children are acting up; the meal is late; your wife is frazzled. Raw emotions can easily blow the situation up into a full family argument!
This is one of those times when we can allow our emotions to get the better of us. But recognize that confusion in your family is not authored by God! (1 Corinthians 14:33). It indicates the presence of selfishness and vanity (e.g. James 4:1-3). The devil broadcasts these attitudes and is ready and eager to exploit such circumstances in order to tear a family apart.
Here it is especially critical for you to draw on God’s help and truly lead your family! Don’t expect your wife to take the first step toward resolution—it must be you!
The moment you recognize what is going on, stop. Bring God into your thinking and seek a spirit-minded approach. This may mean apologizing for whatever you have done to contribute to the strife. You may need to pray then and there, silently in your mind, for help; other times you may be able to retire and pray alone on your knees, or even together with your wife. Before God, swallow your pride, let go of your vanity, and yield yourself to Him. Acknowledge your sin and those of your family and ask for His forgiveness. Ask that He would help expunge the negativity, resolve the problems, and draw you back together as one. Ask that, if any correction needs to be administered to the family, He will help you do it in love, with His balance of judgment, justice and mercy. Then rise from your prayer in faith, and allow God to restore your family to love, harmony and joy through you.
Remember the wisdom in Ephesians 4:26, and strive to bring any misunderstanding, disagreement or argument to a happy conclusion before the conclusion of that day.
Recognizing our faults and offering prayers of real repentance yields outstanding results for family unity. Try it—it works! God’s presence can instantly transform a war zone into a haven of peace. It is your responsibility to lead your family in times of difficulty in a way that invites Him in. A family led by a man who lovingly uses his office in this way will truly be blessed for it.
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2). Under lax government, troubles will overwhelm us. But well-governed children are happy children.
Administer God’s law with affection, warmth, encouragement, instruction, correction and discipline. These are all facets of God’s love, and should flow from the authority God has given you as a father. Pray for His help in getting the balance right. Allow God to bless your family through you! Use your office so it will be the gift to those you lead as God intends. This is the road that leads your family from darkness into light, from disorder to harmony. It gives a wife security, stability, contentment, peace of mind. It gives children a window into godliness, and a blueprint for achievement and success.