I listen to this sermon from John Piper regularly: Fathers Who Give Hope. The message comes from Colossians 3:12-21, especially verse 21:
Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (ESV)
His outline is:
- The Address – “Fathers”
- The Command – “Do not provoke your children”
- The Purpose – “lest they become discouraged”
Paul requires Christians to rear children who are not discouraged. Initially, that requires rearing children away from hope in money, health, a spouse, or self (all of which will disappoint), and instead toward hope in God.
Fathers bear the unique burden of giving hope to their kids, though not independent of their wives. We ought to lead our sons and daughters in such a way that they would see the heavenly Father through our dim reflection.
Perhaps the most daunting, and encouraging, counsel is that what we are as fathers is what our children will become. Giving hope is not a program, it is primarily about living and growing as hope-filled Christians.
That is the first thing that fathers can do to provoke their children to long-term discouragement and hopelessness—they can fail to BE hopeful, happy, and confident in God.