“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
This single verse is not a detailed teaching for fathers but rather a strong word of ‘exhortation’ and is a response to instruction given to children to ‘obey their parents in the Lord” (Eph. 6:1-3)
Exhortation is consistent with ‘how’ the Apostle Paul insists that older men be treated. He writes to Timothy…
I Timothy 5:1
“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as you would a father…”
Exhort vs. Rebuke.
The context reflects that when, not if, older men fall short of their responsibility.
Do not reuke, but exhort….
Rebuke – to express sharp disapproval of someone because of their behavior or actions.
Exhort – strongly encourage or urge someone to do something.
Note that context matters here. You do not want to ‘exhort’ a man on Father’s Day when he is there with his wife and his kids and his church family. That is the time and place to honor him. Gather men together at a different time for this type of exhortation.
There are multiple reasons why older men (fathers) in the local church often seem to be a little disengaged – and this is one of them. It’s time for church leaders with limited time and experience to stop with the additional teaching and too often rebuking and rather ramp up on the positive exhortation. Ministry to men is different – embrace it.
Heavenly Father, would You give me grace as I work with men to call them up and not to beat them up. In Jesus Name, Amen.