Parents, Provide for the Needs of Your Family
“If anyone does not provide for those who are his own, . . . he has disowned the faith.”—1 TIMOTHY 5:8.
1, 2. (a) Why is it encouraging to see families attending Christian meetings together? (b) What are some challenges that families face in order to get to meetings on time?
WHEN you look around in the Christian congregation before a meeting begins, you may see clean and well-dressed children settling into their seats alongside their parents. Is it not pleasant to see the love evident in such families—the love for Jehovah and for one another? It is easy to forget, though, how much effort goes into getting a family to the meetings on time.
2 In most cases, parents are very busy all day long, and on meeting nights, family life becomes even busier. There is a meal to prepare, chores to do, homework to complete. The parents carry the heaviest load, making sure that everyone is clean, fed, and ready on time. Of course, with children the unexpected may happen at the most inopportune moments. The oldest tears his pants while playing. The youngest spills his food. The children begin to bicker. (Proverbs 22:15) The result? Even careful parental planning may go awry. Yet, the family is nearly always at the Kingdom Hall well before the meeting starts. How encouraging it is to see them there week after week, year after year, as the children grow up to serve Jehovah!
3. How do we know that Jehovah greatly values families?
3 Though your work as a parent is at times difficult, even exhausting, you may be assured that Jehovah greatly values your efforts. Jehovah is the Originator of the family arrangement. His Word thus says that every family “owes its name”—its very existence—to Jehovah. (Ephesians 3:14, 15) So when you parents seek to fulfill your family roles in the right way, you honor the Sovereign Lord of the universe. (1 Corinthians 10:31) Is that not a great privilege? It is fitting, then, that we consider the assignment that Jehovah has given to parents. In this article, we will think of that in terms of providing for the family. Let us review three ways in which God expects parents to provide.
4. In the family, what arrangements has Jehovah made to provide for the needs of the children?
4 The apostle Paul wrote: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Timothy 5:8) When Paul spoke of “anyone” here, whom did he have in mind? It was the family head, usually the father. God also gives the woman a dignified role as helper to her husband. (Genesis 2:18) Women in Bible times often helped their husbands to provide for the family. (Proverbs 31:13, 14, 16) Today, single-parent families are ever more common.a Many single Christian parents are doing an admirable job of providing for their household. Of course, it is ideal for a family to have both parents, with the father taking the lead.
5, 6. (a) What are some of the challenges facing those trying to provide materially for their own? (b) Maintaining what viewpoint toward secular work will help Christian providers to persevere?
5 At 1 Timothy 5:8, what kind of providing did Paul have in mind? The context suggests that he was speaking directly about the material needs of the family. In today’s world, there are many obstacles a family head may face in order to provide in that way. Economic hardships are common worldwide, as are layoffs, high unemployment rates, and a rising cost of living. What can help a provider to persevere in the face of such challenges?
6 A provider does well to remember that he is carrying out an assignment from Jehovah. Paul’s inspired words show that a man who is able to obey this command yet refuses to do so is comparable to one who has “disowned the faith.” A Christian would do his utmost to avoid such a standing before his God. Sadly, though, many people in today’s world have “no natural affection.” (2 Timothy 3:1, 3) Indeed, countless fathers shirk their responsibility, leaving their family in the lurch. Christian husbands do not share that hardhearted, casual view of providing for their own. Unlike many of their coworkers, Christian providers see even the most menial of jobs as being dignified and important, a means of pleasing Jehovah God, since it enables them to provide for their loved ones.
7. Why is it fitting that parents contemplate Jesus’ example?
7 Family heads may also find it helpful to contemplate Jesus’ perfect example. Remember, the Bible prophetically refers to Jesus as our “Eternal Father.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) As “the last Adam,” Jesus effectively replaces “the first man Adam” as the father of those of mankind who exercise faith. (1 Corinthians 15:45) Unlike Adam, who turned out to be a selfish, self-serving father, Jesus is the ideal father. The Bible says of him: “By this we have come to know love, because that one surrendered his soul for us.” (1 John 3:16) Yes, Jesus willingly offered up his own life for others. However, he also on a day-to-day basis put the needs of others ahead of his own in smaller ways. You parents do well to imitate that self-sacrificing spirit.
8, 9. (a) What may parents learn from birds about providing selflessly for their young? (b) How are many Christian parents showing a self-sacrificing spirit?
8 Parents can learn much about selfless love from Jesus’ words to God’s wayward people: “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings!” (Matthew 23:37) Jesus here painted a vivid word picture of a mother hen sheltering her young with her wings. Truly, parents may learn much from the protective instincts of a mother bird, who will readily put herself at risk to protect her chicks from harm. What parent birds do on a day-to-day basis, though, is also remarkable to see. They fly to and fro incessantly in their search for food. Even when near exhaustion, they drop the food into the gaping beaks of their hatchlings, who swallow it and usually clamor for more. Many of Jehovah’s creatures are “instinctively wise” in the way they care for the needs of their young.—Proverbs 30:24.
9 In a comparable way, Christian parents around the world are showing an admirably self-sacrificing spirit. You would rather suffer harm yourself than allow any harm to come to your children. Further, you willingly make daily sacrifices in order to provide for your own. Many of you rise early to work at exhausting or tedious jobs. You labor to put nutritious food on the table. You struggle to make sure that your children have clean clothing, suitable shelter, and an adequate education. And you keep at it day after day, year after year. Surely such self-sacrifice and endurance please Jehovah! (Hebrews 13:16) At the same time, though, you remember that there are more important ways in which to provide for your own.
10, 11. What is the most important of human needs, and what must Christian parents do first in order to fill this need in their children?
10 Even more essential than providing materially is providing spiritually. Jesus said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4; 5:3) What can you parents do to provide spiritually?
11 On this subject, perhaps no passage of Scripture is quoted more often than Deuteronomy 6:5-7. Please open your Bible and read those verses. Note that parents are first told to cultivate their own spirituality, building love for Jehovah and taking his words to heart. Yes, you need to be a serious student of God’s Word, reading the Bible regularly and meditating on it so that you develop a real understanding of and love for Jehovah’s ways, principles, and laws. As a result, your heart will be full of fascinating Bible truths that will move you to feel joy, awe, and love for Jehovah. You will have an abundance of good things to impart to your children.—Luke 6:45.
12. How may parents imitate Jesus’ example when it comes to inculcating Bible truths in their children?
12 Spiritually strong parents are prepared to apply the counsel found at Deuteronomy 6:7, to “inculcate” Jehovah’s words in their offspring at every opportunity. To “inculcate” means to teach and impress by means of repetition. Jehovah well knows that all of us—children in particular—need repetition in order to learn. Thus, Jesus used repetition in his ministry. For example, when teaching his disciples to be humble instead of proud and competitive, he found a variety of ways to repeat the same principle. He taught by reasoning, by illustrating, even by demonstrating. (Matthew 18:1-4; 20:25-27; John 13:12-15) Remarkably, though, Jesus never showed impatience. Similarly, parents need to find ways to teach basic truths to their children, patiently repeating Jehovah’s principles until the children absorb and apply them.
13, 14. What are some occasions when parents can inculcate Bible truths in their children, using what aids?
13 Family study sessions are ideal occasions for such teaching. Indeed, a regular, upbuilding, happy family Bible study is a mainstay of family spirituality. Christian families around the world delight in such studies, making use of the literature provided through Jehovah’s organization and tailoring the study to the needs of the children. The book Learn From the Great Teacher has been an outstanding blessing in this regard, as has the book Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work.b However, the family study is not the only time to teach children.
14 As Deuteronomy 6:7 shows, there are many occasions when you parents can discuss spiritual things with your children. Whether traveling together, doing chores together, or relaxing together, you may find opportunities to provide for your children’s spiritual needs. Of course, you need not incessantly “lecture” your children about Bible truths. Rather, try to keep family conversation on an upbuilding, spiritual level. For example, the Awake! magazine contains many articles on a wide variety of subjects. Such articles may pave the way for conversations about Jehovah’s animal creation, places of natural beauty around the world, and the wonderful variety among human cultures and ways of life. Such conversations may move young ones to read more of the literature provided by the faithful and discreet slave class.—Matthew 24:45-47.
15. How might parents help their children to view the Christian ministry as interesting and rewarding?
15 Engaging in upbuilding conversations with your children will help you to satisfy another spiritual need. Christian children need to learn to share their faith effectively with others. In the course of talking about some point of interest in The Watchtower or Awake! you may look for opportunities to relate the material to the ministry. For example, you might ask: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people knew this about Jehovah? How do you think we could get someone interested in this subject?” Such discussions may help young ones to develop greater interest in sharing with others what they are learning. Then, when your children accompany you in the ministry, they see a living example of putting such conversations into practice. They may also learn that the ministry is an interesting and happy work, producing great satisfaction and joy.—Acts 20:35.
16. What may children learn from listening to their parents’ prayers?
16 Parents also provide for their children’s spiritual needs when praying. Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, and he prayed with them on many occasions. (Luke 11:1-13) Just think of how much they learned by joining in prayer with Jehovah’s own Son! Similarly, your children can learn a lot from your prayers. They may learn, for example, that Jehovah wants us to speak to him freely from the heart, approaching him with any concern that we might have. Yes, your prayers can help your children to learn a vital spiritual truth: They can have a relationship with their heavenly Father.—1 Peter 5:7.
17, 18. (a) How does the Bible reveal the importance of showing love to children? (b) How should fathers imitate Jehovah in expressing love for their children?
17 Of course, children also have pressing emotional needs. God’s Word tells parents how important it is to provide in this respect. For example, younger women are exhorted “to love their children.” Their doing so is related to young mothers’ being recalled to their senses, or being “mentally sound.” (Titus 2:4, footnote) Indeed, it is sensible to show a child love. This teaches a child to love and brings lifelong benefits. On the other hand, a failure to show a child love is senseless. It causes great pain and represents a failure to imitate Jehovah, who shows us immense love despite our imperfections.—Psalm 103:8-14.
18 Jehovah even takes the initiative in loving his earthly children. As 1 John 4:19 says, “he first loved us.” You fathers in particular should imitate Jehovah’s example, taking the initiative to build a loving bond with your children. The Bible urges fathers to avoid exasperating their children, “that they do not become downhearted.” (Colossians 3:21) Few things are more exasperating for children than the impression that a parent does not love or value them. Fathers who are reluctant to express their feelings do well to remember Jehovah’s example. Jehovah even spoke from heaven to express approval and love for his Son. (Matthew 3:17; 17:5) How encouraging that must have been for Jesus! Likewise, children draw much strength and courage from their parents’ honest expressions of love and approval.
19. Why is discipline important, and what balance do Christian parents strive to find?
19 Of course, parental love is more than just words. Love is expressed primarily in action. Providing materially and spiritually can be an expression of parental love, especially when parents do so in a way that conveys that love is the primary motivation. Additionally, discipline is a vital expression of parental love. Indeed, “whom Jehovah loves he disciplines.” (Hebrews 12:6) On the other hand, a failure to discipline is an expression of parental hatred! (Proverbs 13:24) Jehovah always finds the right balance, disciplining “to the proper degree.” (Jeremiah 46:28) Such balance is not always easy for imperfect parents to find. Still, it is worth your every effort to strive for that balance. Firm, loving discipline helps a child grow up to live a happy, productive life. (Proverbs 22:6) Is that not what every Christian parent wants for his child?
20. How can parents give their children the best possible opportunity to “choose life”?
20 When you parents do the important work Jehovah has assigned you—providing for your children’s material, spiritual, and emotional needs—the rewards are great. You thereby give your children the best possible opportunity to “choose life” and thereafter to “keep alive.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) Those children who choose to serve Jehovah and stay on the path to life as they mature bring their parents tremendous joy. (Psalm 127:3-5) Such joy will last forever! How, though, can young people praise Jehovah now? The following article will take up that subject.
a In this discussion, the provider will generally be referred to in the male gender. However, the principles are also applicable to Christian women who serve as primary providers.
b Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
How Would You Answer?
What can parents do in order to provide for their children
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Many birds labor tirelessly to provide for their young
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Parents must first cultivate their own spirituality
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Parents can find many occasions to teach their children about the Creator
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Children draw strength and courage from parental approval