Read the Bible, change your life. It sounds good, right? As Christians, we know it’s something we should do. As the head of a family’s spiritual well-being, this task bears particular significance for fathers.
But will reading the Bible really change your life? The short answer: yes. If you commit to reading the Bible earnestly and consistently, God’s Word will not only transform your life, but your parenting as well. Here’s how:
Change Your Life
Using the Blueprint
Elisabeth Elliot said it well: “The Word of God I think of as a straight edge, which shows up our own crookedness. We can’t really tell how crooked our thinking is until we line it up with the straight edge of Scripture.” You wouldn’t start building a house without a blueprint. It’s a crucial part of the construction process — a guide for making a house what it is supposed to be. Building a house without a plan is a good way to end up with a crooked house.
Similarly, the Bible is the blueprint that God has given us to build our lives. It gives us God’s instruction on how to conduct ourselves and care for those around us. Of course, we can choose to do it our own way. But if we rely on our own understanding, we run the risk of building a crooked house that will crumble in time.
The Book of Proverbs is packed to the brim with wise words to live by. It’s a great place to begin if you’re looking to model your life after God’s blueprint. There is practical teaching on relationships with God (Proverbs 3:5-6, 9:10) and family (Proverbs 22:6, 31:10).
Seeing Blind Spots
If you’ve ever driven a car, you’re familiar with “blind spots.” Blind spots are areas around the car that you cannot readily see when looking ahead or in the rear or side-view mirrors. As responsible motorists, we are taught to check our blind spots in order to reduce the risk of an accident. Likewise, we should be looking for ways to eliminate the blind spots we carry with us in life.
Blind spots develop with our upbringing and experiences. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are unique to every individual. It could be burying emotions in an unhealthy way or finding your worth in something other than Christ. These blind spots can cause damage to those around us if left unchecked.
In reading the Bible, we are taking part in the invitation to test our lives against Scripture and follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God can reveal our blind spots to us through His Word. It’s not the easiest process to confront our weaknesses, but we can trust that God uses it to refine us into better Christians, husbands, and fathers. He can use it to change our life.
In Matthew 7:3, Jesus says, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” We’re called to examine ourselves, and the teachings of Jesus are a perfect place to start seeing through the blind spots we’ve developed. Check out the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, in which Jesus gives guidance on a number of topics.
Build the Relationship
As we’ve discussed, God uses the Bible to speak to us, to provide guidance for how He wants us to live. But it’s more than that. Through His Word, God tells us He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us. If a close friend or family member sent you a text, you wouldn’t ignore it. You’d join in on the conversation. God created us for relationships and He didn’t intend to be excluded.
Think of the deep, meaningful relationships you have experienced. Can you imagine your life without them? Our lives are heavily influenced by those we are connected with. How important, then, that we are in relationship with our creator! Reading the Bible is not a spiritual “to-do.” It’s an invitation to connect with God, to get to know His heart and follow His example.
Look at the Book of Romans for learnings on our relationship with God. Also, Focus on the Family provides several resources to help you build your relationship with Christ as you read through the Bible. In addition, there are plenty of options to explore the Bible together with your kids!
Stuck at home?
Change Your Parenting
The Ultimate Father
We’ve established that the Bible can change your life, but how will it impact the way you parent? The Bible is the example of the ultimate father – God Himself. Reading through God’s Word paints the picture of a father who is just and merciful, “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” God actively pursues a loving relationship with His children and was willing to make the highest sacrifice on our behalf.
Everyone’s situation is different. You may have had a father who tried his best to be a good parent or one who didn’t live up to his calling. You may even have had a father who was absent for most of your life. What we do have in common is a heavenly Father who loves us and has shown us how to love our children.
How can you be more like your heavenly Father as you parent your kids? Are you “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love?”
Check out the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. Jesus paints the picture of a loving, forgiving father who runs to welcome his son upon his return. And, of course, the crucifixion of Jesus is the ultimate example of how deeply God loves us, His children. Additionally, Focus on the Family provides the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment. This assessment gives parents an honest look at their unique strengths, plus some areas that could use a little help.
Passing on the Faith
In so many ways, parents are teachers. The Bible encourages us to take on the incredible responsibility of teaching our children (see Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4). You are the person that God has placed in their life to show them “the way they should go.”
When you travel to a new place, you use a map. Odds are, you wouldn’t simply guess how to get there, or you’d run the risk of getting lost. When you read the Bible, you’re reading the map of where God wants you to go spiritually and how to get there. You are committing the directions to memory so you won’t get lost. Just as important, we need to teach our children how to read the map and help them understand those same directions. In that way, we will present the truth of the Gospel to them and help them develop a biblical worldview.
Focus on the Family has tons of free resources for helping you guide your children (whatever age and stage they are in) as they go on their journey of faith. Check them out here! Additionally, we also provide several books on parenting and passing along the faith to your kids on the Focus Store.
Lead by Example
One of the most important aspects of marketing a movie is the trailer. It tells a story about the film. Is it an action-packed adventure, a tense thriller, or a lighthearted comedy? Odds are you’ve seen plenty of movie trailers and had thoughts ranging from “that looks terrible” to “I’ve got to see that!”
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7-8a). To your kids, you are the movie trailer for your faith. So, what do your kids think? Do they see faith as burdensome or irrelevant? Or do they see something that is vibrant, life-altering, and worth emulating?
Leading by example is easier said than done. It’s a process and it won’t always be smooth. Mistakes will happen. You won’t always be the mother or father you want to be. But even then, your faith can shine through all the clearer as you model the Christian walk and respond to challenges by turning to God. If your kids see you living out a faith that is alive and consistent, that will be one of the most impactful witnesses for Christ they will receive in their lives.
The Bible tells us in Luke 6:45 that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” As you internalize what you are consistently reading in the Bible, you will be equipped to live out your faith in an authentic, impactful way. The book of James contains great instruction on living out your faith on a daily basis. Also, check out our article on how to be the dad your family needs.
“Think About These Things…”
Hopefully, you’ve been encouraged to crack open your Bible and start reading. In Philippians 4:8, Paul exhorts us, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” As you read through God’s word, you’ll be doing just that. Here are a few other things you can be thinking on as you deepen your relationship with God.
Read the Bible, change your life. That’s the message of the upcoming movie Selfie Dad, which tells the story of a father and former stand-up comic stuck in a midlife crisis, and whose faith has been put on the back burner. That all changes when he starts reading the Bible. His life, and his family, are radically challenged by it.
As you begin your journey of reading the Bible (or return to it), check out this timely movie that shares the message of truth we’ve been exploring– that the Bible can change your life. You can check out Plugged In’s review of Selfie Dad here. The film will be available for rent on June 19th on several digital platforms, including Amazon and iTunes. For more information, go to selfiedadmovie.com.
Bring Your Bible to School Day
Bring Your Bible to School Day is a nationwide, student-led event that is happening this year on Thursday, October 1. This event empowers Christian students of all ages to share God’s love with their friends by taking one simple step — bringing their Bible to school!
The event allows students to live out their faith in a positive, practical way. For more information on this annual movement go to bringyourbible.org.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years.” Diving into God’s Word is an ongoing process, as is any relationship. If you haven’t started, choose to begin that process. If you had stopped before, pick it up again. Dads, read the Bible. You may be surprised how much you — and your family — change.
© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.