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When Dads Disciple Sons

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When fathers make intentional efforts to disciple and mentor their sons, they build strong relationships and encourage faith development.

When Dads Disciple Sons

As I began to look for a church home during my college years, I was met with questions like “Do you have a mentor?” “Who’s your Paul?” “Who’s your Timothy?” “Can I disciple you?” The majority of these questions came from younger men either at the end of their college journey or who were recent additions to the church’s college staff. I had come to recognize that when dads disciple sons, great things happen so I responded,

“My dad disciples me.” 

Each time I responded this way, the staff was noticeably shocked. It seemed that they hadn’t even thought of that as an option. It was as if my dad, by nature of simply being my father, was ineligible to disciple and mentor me. 

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

In Ephesians 6:4, Paul commands fathers saying, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The Lord issues the responsibility of discipleship to parents. Yet, knowing how to best “bring them up” can feel difficult, if not impossible.

Fathers Help Their Sons Understand Manhood

At its core, the process of discipleship is a transformation from one thing to another. For father and son, discipleship serves as a confirmation process. Fathers help their sons understand what it means to be a man. When dads disciple sons, their sons learn from their fathers and slowly become more like the father, inching closer to an entrance into manhood and eventual status as a man.

To a son, moments where your father says “well done” or “good job” speak volumes as to how your father views you and your worth. It’s in these moments where he provides validation by acknowledging the hard work his son has displayed.

  • Just as growing into manhood is forged in the repeated actions and character-building moments over a long period of time, father-son discipleship is carefully crafted in the minor moments when no one is watching or keeping score. Stay true to the course and remember validation from you matters the most.

Spending Time with Your Son and His Friends

In seventh grade, my Texas History class took a week-long trip through the historical landmarks of Texas. The trip required parent chaperones, and my dad happily took off a week of work to accompany me and my friends during our journey throughout Texas.

At first, I was petrified. My father following me around with my friends for a week? I won’t be able to do anything.

But looking back, it was one of the most influential weeks of my life. He played basketball and dodgeball with me and my friends. He helped us sneak into different parts of the capitol that no one else went to. Armed with Wikipedia and his quick wit, he was our tour guide for the week. And so much more.

Dads Disciple Sons in Unique Moments

My dad led our nightly bible study. He crafted intentional questions that rocked our seventh grade minds and prodded us to honestly consider our relationships with each other and with God. This is when I became aware of how much can be gained when dads disciple sons.

How was my father able to do that? Simply because he was willing to be present. He recognized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he asked questions and he engaged. Fathers help their sons when they find the unique moments where they can enter into their sons’ worlds. A dad might want to gather his son and his friends together for dinner. Ask thoughtful questions. Learn what activities they enjoy and pay for them, play with them and/or drive them there and back. Find ways to comfortably engage. Simply being a familiar face to a son’s friends might create opportunities that could never be imagined.

Dads Disciple Sons in Community

In the second chapter of Acts, Luke describes how the early church functioned. There was constant sharing of possessions and meals. Imagine the children in this setting. These children were corporately parented, receiving the same truth and instruction from a variety of sincere and joyful parents.

  • Dads, disciple sons intentionally and surround them with a variety of voices that you trust. They can have an immense impact on your son’s development. In interacting with different men you trust, your son will be able to learn from and understand how men interact with others.

Fathers Help Their Sons By Asking Thinking Questions

During one Sunday when I was in middle school, my dad and I were watching a football game and one of the hundreds of car commercials came on. I decided to ask my dad about fixed APR financing and what interest meant in a car lease. And it was a disaster. I couldn’t pronounce half the words, and he barely understood what I was talking about.

But as confusing as my question may have been, he smiled, held eye contact and listened. Then he responded. Not with an encyclopedia of terminology or phrases that would soar over my head. He simply asked me a question:

“What do you think?”

This set me off on another string of mispronunciations that my dad patiently guided me through. Even though I probably still couldn’t fully explain how to finance a car lease and what APR means, moments like these taught me the importance of patient listening. In all honesty, I didn’t care so much about APR financing as much as I did about knowing that my dad listened to me and thoughtfully gave a response.

Some Good Questions

Fathers, ask questions like “What do you think?” or “What does that mean to you?” to gauge your child’s level of knowledge or interest. Thinking questions, like these, can be conversation starters or transitional questions within the middle of conversations. Often, teenagers simply want to be heard. Offering “thinking questions” provides the space for your son to speak and process information right in front of you. And when combined with thoughtful listening, can give you more room to actively listen and give advice.

Be There and Be Aware

Fathers help their sons when they are there and aware on a regular basis.

Dads, you have a platform to interact with your son that no one else does.

  • Learning to carefully think through how you and your son spend time together can make your influence felt within your son’s life.
  • Establishing consistency in your conversations helps him to know you are there for him.
  • Let him know that you are available to hear what he has to say at any time.

Presence is the greatest present. Dads, disciple sons and be generous with your time. Give it freely and often.

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Good parents aren’t perfect. There’s no formula to follow, but there are ways you can grow every day. Focus on the Family’s 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment gives parents an honest look at their unique strengths, plus some areas that could use a little help.

Copyright © 2019, Focus on the Family.


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