How Every Father Can Bless His Home
(message excerpt by John Piper)
There are spiritual dangers, brothers, coming at our families from every side today — innumerable and subtle. We need valiant warriors as never before — not with spears and shields, but with biblical discernment and courage.
1. Pray for your wife and children every day without fail.
Pray for them over and over again during the day. Over and over and over, protect them. Protect them. Lead them in paths of righteousness. Don’t let them go into temptation. Guard their lives. Make their marriages work. Make their children strong. Protect them, O my God.
That’s your job: to call down from God, hour by hour, blessing on this family. That’s what headship means: to pray for them.
2. Set standards for your home.
Work them through with your wife. And primary responsibility means talk to her about it. She’s probably got some better ideas than you. But your taking initiative to talk is what she so longs for. Women are not eager to be dominated; they’re eager for their husbands to take initiative to make things happen in the moral sphere of their marriage. “Would you please help me set some standards for these kids, and then help me carry this through?” She shouldn’t have to say that.
She wants you to step up and do it together. Take some initiative. You have to figure out what this kid’s going to watch on TV. You have to figure out what movies they’re going to go to. You have to figure out what music is coming into this house, and you have to figure out how low that neckline is going. And that’s mainly your job, Dad.
On the modesty issue, I’m fully aware that it is mainly a mom and daughter who work that out from age 2 months to 22. And what kind of bathing suit you put on a 2 year old will make a difference in her view of modesty later. It will. However, Dad, they desperately need your input on this. They need you to celebrate when they get it right and look beautiful and modest. And they need you to say, “You’re not going out of the house with that on. Over my dead body.” We have fathers that are simply fearful of their daughters at this point.
Now guys, you know what I mean when I say you know what immodesty is saying, and these little girls don’t know. Now you little girls that are here, ask your daddy, because I promise you, you’re wired like a woman. You do not get it. You might read enough to get it, but guys are wired to get it, see it, feel it.
There is a way to dress that is not helpful in the culture, and there’s a way to dress that is so helpful, and Christian women ought not to think, “Get out of my life. I’ll wear what I want.” That’s not a Christian mentality. A Christian mentality is, How can I bless the world? How can I maximize my life for good in the world?
And dads, you’re a key here, positively and in terms of warning. Sometimes it means what they don’t think it means. Where are they going to find out? Their boyfriend? No, they find out from Dad. That’s where they find out what this means.
3. Always initiate reconciliation.
The Bible is very clear about one of the most dangerous intruders spiritually in a family. Let me read it to you from
Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
How is the devil allowed into a teenager’s bedroom? How is the devil allowed at night into a married couple’s bedroom? Answer: when they go to bed angry. If you go to bed angry night after night after night, and that kid is seething at you in there, and no steps at reconciliation have happened, the door is thrown open wide, and the devil can wreak havoc over weeks, months, and years. It will destroy a soul, a marriage, and a family.
So, what are you going to do? I’ll tell you, dads, this is where headship is so hard that no woman would ever want it. This is the hardest thing in the world. Headship means you must initiate reconciliation — no matter how many times it’s been her fault or the kids’ fault. You have not the luxury as head to say, “She did it, and if she doesn’t say she’s sorry, I’m hitting the pillow.”
No way. Justice might say, “Yes, that’s the right way to act.” But let me ask you this: Is that the way Jesus treated his bride? How many times has he come back to her — back to you? How many times has he come back to you and back to you, saying, “Here I am, ready to make up”? A thousand times. Seventy times seven times seven times seven he has come back to you when it’s your fault and not his. And he took the initiative to make it right. He died to make it right.
Will we as husbands just say, “It’s her turn”? Yes, we will without the Holy Spirit. This is impossible without Christ. You don’t want to be heads, women, because I’m holding the men accountable that his family does not go to bed angry at night. You knock on that teenager’s door. Oh, this can be sweet, brothers. This is as hard as it gets.
You knock on that door and any little increment of fault that you bear over against his many faults, you confess it. Not many things will break a teenager, but that might: to walk in and say, “Son, my reaction to what you did was over the top. What you did was wrong. That’s not the issue here. But my reaction to it was over the top. I’d like to apologize and say it wasn’t in love. I just got out of control, and I’m sorry, and I’d like you to forgive me.”
You talk about sweet sleep. You talk about healing balms in the mind and the soul, dads. Now, I’m not naïve. I’ve been married for 38 years. There are attempts at peace that don’t work. But you’ve got to try.
Noël and I have knelt beside each other and we have hardly been able to pray. We just kneel there in silence. Who’s going to pray first? Neither of us feel like praying. We’re so upset, and these hinder your prayers big time, and you can just eke out, “God help us. I want it to be better.”
That’s your job, Dad. It’s the hardest thing in the world. Keep the devil out of the bedroom and out of the kids’ rooms by not letting the sun go down on your anger, inasmuch as it lies within you.