“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
One of the most basic and important lessons for life is recognizing how God has established, and works through, delegated authority. This is realized in the home, in the church, in civil government, and in the place of employment. In this system of authority, the Bible dictates responsibilities for those in and those under authority.
Our text warns us, especially those who are dads, about the possibility of abusing the place of authority. Although this passage specifically admonishes fathers, the danger exists in every application of authority. Leaders can provoke to anger those they are responsible for leading.
God uses and mightily blesses this system of governing our lives through those in authority. Because of this, Satan attacks it on every level. There is great temptation to rebel against those in authority. For this reason, those of us who have the charge of leading others should take this warning seriously.
What might contribute to our angering those who are under our authority? Sometimes it occurs when we fail to instruct children, while expecting them to comply with our expectations. It is not enough to simply tell them what they are to do; we should also teach them why they are to do it. Being in charge, or being in authority, means more than just giving orders or telling others what to do. Our text tells dads to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” This includes systematically and consistently teaching and training.
Another thing that contributes to making children bitter is when parents aren’t the kind of examples they should be. A leader whose philosophy could be summarized as, “Do as I say, not as I do,” will contribute to frustration with those who follow. Inconsistencies between our expectations of others and our personal habits cause confusion in the lives of those who we are seeking to train.
Another factor that may produce wrathful responses is a lack of patience by those in authority. Nurturing takes time and patience. Leading, as well as following, has its challenges. It is wise for us to remember that those who lead, and those who are being led, are only human. All of us make mistakes; but with God’s grace and help, we want to effectively lead without creating bitterness in those we are trying to influence.