In What God Wants Every Dad to Know, Dr. James Merritt unpacks the Wisdom of Solomon specifically for dads. He notes that Solomon used the phrase “my son” 23 times in his book of Proverbs. He wasn’t just writing random wise sayings; he was writing specifically to his children. Chapter-by-chapter, Merritt takes on the most important life lessons we should teach our children, and inspires us to be the kind of fathers that God would have us be, not only for our children, but for ourselves: “Few things are more valuable for either person than when a man becomes the father his child needs him to be.”
- The most important thing that we pass onto our children is wisdom. It is the one thing that “will last beyond your lifetime.” We must search after wisdom, teach it to our children, and then teach to teach their children to do the same.
- Teaching our children to cultivate the right relationships with the right people is of paramount importance. We must also teach our children to let go of grudges, to never seek out revenge, and to love their enemies.
- We must teach our kids “early and often to guard the words that come out of their mouths.” Not only should we practice “be quick to hear and slow to speak…” but we should also beware of longwinded people who flatter us: “know the difference between insincere flattery and sincere praise”. Avoid gossip by asking “Is it true, confidential, and kind?” Most importantly, we should “use [our] tongue[s] to teach [our] children early, consistently, and continuously the why and how of loving God.”
- Master the proper use of anger. Be angry seldom, and for the right reasons, and to the right degree. It is right to be angry “When your children willfully, openly, defiantly rebel”, but “channel that anger in constructive but loving correction”. Further, teach your children the right type of things to be angry (others being wronged) about and the right way to express that anger.
- It is our responsibility to properly discipline our children. Too many parents in our society have abdicated this responsibility. Society teaches to let the children do whatever they want and don’t hurt their self-esteem, but Solomon teaches that the parent must properly discipline the child. In Child Wise (reviewed earlier this year), we learned that discipline is too often associated with punishment, but that the true meaning is more along the lines of training. Merritt says, “…discipline is like a two-edged sword; it is not only to correct children when they are wrong, but to direct them to a way that is right.” Finally, we must live disciplined lives ourselves if there is any hope that our children will heed our discipline.
- We must teach our children about sex and we must do it early, because the world certainly is. Chapter Six encourages us to teach our children that “There is nothing as beautiful as sex with the right person, at the right place, at the right time, in the will of God.”
- Teach your children the value of hard work, but don’t work so hard that they never see you. Teach them to “Work hard. Finish the job. Learn to rest. Do their best.” Merritt rails against laziness in this chapter, but crosses the line when he equates laziness with sleep. Far too many Americans are sleep deprived and are not doing their best work because they are not sleeping enough. I don’t know of a single person who sleeps too much, but I know of plenty who are not getting enough. When you don’t have proper sleep you cannot function up to your potential. Your hard work will not be as effective as it otherwise could be without proper rest.
- Teach your children to handle money wisely. There’s nothing inherently wrong with money or earning a lot of it, but make it should be made ethically and morally. Give your kids some basic jobs without pay. When they are old enough, give them some jobs for fair compensation. Avoid letting them acquire a sense of entitlement.
- Teach your kids to “love, trust, and obey God.” Encourage the development of “honesty, reliability, respect, godliness, and self-control”. Teach them to search for wisdom. Lead your children to Christ personally and early (Merrit doesn’t define early, but does show some example ages: 8, 12, 11, and 9).