Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dads (video)

What do you think of this?

You go first.

(h-t Seth McBee)

UPDATE: I said I'd offer my thoughts after around 20 responses, which we've now had. So, as predicted, here's my contrarian response:

First, I think all the commenters make good points. I basically agree with everyone.

Second, insofar as the point of the video is that fathers are important in their children's lives, that we must be involved in small as well as large ways, that we must ALWAYS keep in mind that those little eyes are watching us, and that our example speaks loud and clear — good point, and well-made.


Third, my problem is with the constant use of the future tense, indicative mood. IF a father does A, then B WILL result.

It's the same point I argued at great length awhile back.

IF IT WERE TRUE that a son would automatically accept and embrace all the good things a good father taught and modeled, THEN there would be no point to verses such as these:
Proverbs 1:8 Hear, my son, your father's instruction,
and forsake not your mother's teaching,

Proverbs 2:1 My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
2 making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
3 yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
4 if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

Proverbs 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.

Proverbs 4:1 Hear, O sons, a father's instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight,

Proverbs 4:
10 Hear, my son, and accept my words,
that the years of your life may be many.

Proverbs 5:
7 And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

Proverbs 26:
26 My son, give me your heart,
and let your eyes observe my ways.
27 For a prostitute is a deep pit;
an adulteress is a narrow well.
28 She lies in wait like a robber
and increases the traitors among mankind.
I could go on and on, and on and on.

The point: if it were an automatic thing that —
Good father
+Good teaching
+Good example

Godly, wise son
...then why would the son be told, again and again, that he must accept his father's instruction, that he must take it to heart, that he must remember it, that he must not stray from it — that he's in danger of wrong women and ruin if he does not?

So yes, if your life is the foolish life of the hypocrite, you certainly don't love God, and you certainly don't love your son, and you certainly shouldn't congratulate yourself on what a fine example of manhood you are.

But equally: a man can be a godly example, and teach God's word, and still have a son who turns himself into a fool.

And those are my thoughts on that.


Al said...

I liked the extra little bit about God... that was nice.

al sends

Malcolm said...

I fall so short and need so much more wisdom than I have. I am thankful for a God who provides.

Al said...

Someone has been to the Latter Day Saints' school of family centric commercial making...

There are certainly truths contained in this video and fathers should be able to say, “Imitate me” to their children, but if there is no “just as I imitate Christ” behind it then being a moral dad is just another reason for pride.

God forgive me for not presenting Christ to my children the way I should.

Al sends

SolaMommy said...

Oh thanks, I'm crying!

I sent it to my hubby and father-in-law (he's got a 5 yr old). I think we ALL need to be reminded of how closely our children are watching us...

NoLongerBlind said...

Powerful, convicting message!

Thanks for posting it, Dan.

DJP said...

I plan to weigh in after at least 20 legit comments.

(~600 visits a day, that shouldn't be too hard. Shouldn't.)

Jason said...

I'll post a comment just to get us closer to Dan's thoughts :)

I have a 5 year-old daughter and a 19 month-old son. I feel like this is a message I need to be reminded of frequently. I think of how often I am too short with them and how often I do not point them to the cross. I like to think that I have enough personal integrity in all my life that I don't have to worry about what my kids see, but I know that I could do a better job of pointing them to Christ.

Put another way, I once heard Mark Driscoll tell a story about being at a pool with one of his girls. They saw a teenage girl who was very immodestly dressed and kept swimming back and forth to boys who would kiss her. His daughter said, "It's a shame she doesn't have a better daddy." That's a broad brush to paint with, but I think there is much to think about there as a father of a little girl.

Colloquist said...

At first blush, the message is true that our kids notice the good and the bad in us, watch closely to see what we will do, then follow suit. For the first 1/2 I thought the fatal flaw was that there'd be no mention of any foundational Truth on which to base the dad's "good" or "bad" actions. Now, I think the flaw is in making the dad's faith just one aspect of his life, on a par with playing with the kid, mowing the yard, dealing with finances, and doing nice things. It's not the foundation under his feet nor the umbrella that arches over everything; it's just another "good" thing he does.

Gilbert said...

Rabbit: I'm with you. I thought the first half was good, but then it didn't give a foundation as to the "why" question. The child needs to see Jesus working in all that a parent does! Yes, it is true your kid is watching. But what is he watching? Doing what is right, or obeying God?

Hint: the latter comes first.

Kim K. said...

I think it's good as far as it goes - Dad, be a good role model for your kid. Of course, this message is equally applicable to moms, grandparents, teachers, etc.

The one thing that REALLY stuck out for me was this - the Dad in that family has the same sandals as the Dad in our family.

Mike Westfall said...

I think the commercial is a works-righteousness guilt trip, and a very subtle introduction into the gospel of "social justice."

Mike Westfall said...

I mean, look who produced it.

James David Beebe, Jr. said...

Says the reason for faith is to make you a better father and husband. Their family is their god, their job is the religion they worship them with, and church is a hobby that is good for their family.

Jeff said...

The video does a great job of pointing out that our children do watch our actions and learn from them. And we should govern ourselves accordingly.

More to the point, the world watches our actions as Christians. If we proclaim Christ with our mouths and our actions proclaim otherwise, the world is quick to condemn our faith. If, when confronted in our sin, we repent, and are transparent, we are granted some of the greatest opportunities to witness to and minister the lost.

I realize that the world is quick to condemn, but we should do nothing to help it along.

Unknown said...

There may be truth in the video. But that truth seems to be totally devoid of Christ. As Al said, this could very well be a LDS produced commercial. As Christians, we should be centering totally on Christ and not settle merely for a good and nice message. Plenty of pagans can say and do nice and right things, but if I provide a good and moral example for my son and daughter but do not focus on Christ then it is sin.

NoLongerBlind said...

Obviously, your "What do you think of this?" is a loaded question, Dan!

Our answer obviously depends on the presuppositions we bring to the table when we are evaluating it.

Being a dad in Christ who feels like I fall woefully short of where I ought to be in my sanctification progression, striving day by day - moment by moment! - to abide in Christ and "walk in the same way in which He walked", the video hit me hard.

It'd be interesting to know the intent of the producer.

DJP said...

Obviously, your "What do you think of this?" is a loaded question, Dan!

Found out!

Becky Schell said...

I think because of Dan's "What do you think of this?" challenge, everyone is trying to figure out what he means by that; I know my discernment feelers were flicking back and forth, looking for some hidden, insidious message.

My thoughts: isn't it possible that this is just a simple, poignant message to prick the watcher's conscience? There is a principle being presented which is undeniable. Parents (including mothers in the mix here) absolutely are being watched by their children. Parents absolutely teach their children how to act, every second of every minute of every day. This isn't a works-oriented message about how to be saved, it is a message to a society full of self-centered sinners who need to wake up and smell the chocolate milk. The next generation is watching and this generation better be showing them how to be godly in a godless world.

The father is reading the Bible at the table. Should he be reading it when he is in the car (maybe he was and that is why he hit the other guy) or when he was mowing the lawn or pitching the baseball or paying his bills? The reality of life is that it is not possible or prudent to be reading our Bibles 24/7, but as believers, reading the Bible (whether this is the message of the people who made the video or not), walking by faith and seeking to glorify God in our lives is the example the next generation should be seeing.

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Mike Westfall said...

Becky writes:
> isn't it possible that this is
> just a simple, poignant message to
> prick the watcher's conscience?

It is, without a doubt, a message to prick the watcher's conscience.

But, to what does it appeal to get that effect?

Oh, and I always assume Dan's trying to get us to think when he issues a challenge, which I know this is, because he dared us to "go first."

Rachael Starke said...

100% moralism and Prov 22:6 run amok.

I have some past history with this kind of approach to so-called Christian living, and it led to nothing but anger and resentment towards all things Christian.

I actually still battle with that attitude towards this kind of stuff (in case you can't already tell :) ), so I want to be open to reason if that's not what this actually is.

DJP said...

Goodness. I've become so predictable.

I should... get a tat, or something.

SolaMommy said...

Well, what was this video intended for? I wouldn't show it in church or use it to advertise church...but I don't see anything particularly sinister about a little video reminding dads that they need to be the kind of men they're training their sons up to be.

Al said...


according to their website the videos they produce are intended to be like the jokes/stories some pastors* tell at the begining of their sermons. Just food for thought.

(*all the good ones anyway)

al sends

DJP said...

...aaaaand look at the ABOUT page, and see what books they like.

DJP said...

Actually, my thoughts are involved enough that I decided to add it to the post as an UPDATE.

Which see, above.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"But equally: a man can be a godly example, and teach God's word, and still have a son who turns himself into a fool.

And those are my thoughts on that."

Yep. My thoughts too.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I'm "late to the party", but as the mother of three small boys the first thing that hit me was a bit humor and'snarkiness'.

Really, would any of your boys ever say anything like that to you? At that age???

What I get from mine is more along the lines of the

You're not the boss of me!
I know what I'm doing!
You're doing it wrong!
It's not my fault!

And the like.


trogdor said...

First thought: it's basically the sappy positive churchy version of this. So it's got that goin' for it.

DJP said...

...which is nice....

Becky Schell said...

Dan: Concerning the update, I agree with your third point. If it were true that a father's godly example guaranteed godly, obedient offspring, then Adam would never have eaten that forbidden fruit.

Julie: I wonder how they got the little guy to remember all of that!

Mesa Mike: It appeals to the conscience, as evidenced by every commenter who said it did that.

I am not saying the makers had pure motives; I am saying that it reminds us of how we all know we should be living our lives.

I won't, however, be suggesting we show it at our church.

Porthos said...

While I agree with the spirit of most of the comments on the lack of a strong "biblical faith" message, it feels like most of the critics may be overthinking this. As part of a blog post for critique isn't the context in which this video would be effective.

Our church is "good, reformed church" that preaches the gospel. But I could totally see our pastor using this to set up a sermon on being a godly parent.

It sets the table, it doesn't have to deliver the whole meal. How many sermons have we all heard that open up with a poignant story or joke that bridge to the larger message?

As for the Bible only showing up until halfway through, I don't see that as insidious. Rather, it's a storytelling device of BUILDING to the main point. In fact, after watching it a second time, it seems clear that they tie up all the "stuff to do" with "living what you believe". Seems fair enough.

While the video may not have everything that everyone wants to see in it, I find it hard to complain about the things that ARE in it. Especially when used, as I've suggested, as part of a larger piece that was focused on biblical truths about parenting. Which is what it is intended to be, I would imagine.

As for your update, Dan, I guess I just don't see what you're seeing. I don't see it promising that if you do all these things, you'll have a perfect child. It even says "Let me see your mistakes".

In fact, watching it (yet again), none of the "then"s implied by the "if"s are guarantees. They're about shaping character, not ensuring results. There is one line where the kid says he'll make the same choices his dad will make. But one line isn't that damning, IMO. And, by and large, we do make similar choices as our parents if they lived godly lives before us.

Now, that being said, if the totality of the message with which this was used culminated in living a "good" life (like the video says around 2:13), then yeah. That's foolishness. And I am well aware that many churches preach such a "gospel".

But I think this video could be a very effective tool as part of a larger, biblical-grounded message.

Anonymous said...

I agree Dan, there's no question that the son has a responsibility to hear and accept the teachings of his father. No matter how wise and Godly the father is...the son could grow up to be a fool. Lots of Biblical examples of this.

But still, there are some foundational truths in this video that fathers (parents) need to be reminded of. Truths that are often forgotten.

I'm not sure, maybe I have a unique perspective on this. I'm not a father (single guy) but I just became a father figure for 10 ex-street kids. I'm a missionary in SA and my mission just openned a home for streetkids who are now studying at university. It's been a crazy experience. What makes me laugh are all the things that come out of my mouth that are word for word things my father said to me. Things I hadn't consiously thought of in years.

Once again I've been reminded how important my father was in my life. How much he taught me...both good and bad, to be honest. What a responsibility that is. Maybe it's because I went from no parental responsibility to having that responsibility for 10 guys, that I feel like I'm constantly thinking about it.

As well, seeing the lives of these young guys and the consequences of not having a Godly man (or men) in their lives. The words of the boy in the video rang pretty true for me.

No arguement from me regarding the son's responsibilities. But to be reminded of our responsiblities as fathers isn't a bad thing...

DJP said...

Indeed, as my first and second points grant. Terribly important. Just not sovereignly effective.

James David Beebe, Jr. said...

I don't know, Mr. Phillips... Proverbs says train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it -- I take that as a generalization, not a guarantee. If I look at this video like that verse, I don't have a problem with that angle of it. What I don't like is the implicit social gospel. And without any context I didn't assume that was a bible.

I don't think chuches that use videos like this teach that "we should obey God and glorify Him with our good works, so here's a video to encourage you to do good with your parental example ... to glorify God". It's God's eyes, not our little one's ears, that we should be mindful of.

The sad irony is that our families get short-changed if we put them first -- obeying God because it's good for family rather than being good to family out of obedience to God. If I put family first, doing all in my power that I can for them, I can do "this much" good for them [holding my hands up like I caught a pretty big fish]. If I put God first He will use me to do "THIS MUCH" [hands further apart] for them.

DJP said...

Proverbs 22:6 is actually a warning against giving a child his way. If you do that as a child, he'll expect it as an adult, Solomon admonishes.

Again, you and Porthos are simply mistaken. The video is "will... will... will." "The way you're living your life is having a big impact on me... ...your work ethic will be on my mind. ...will give me a sense of security. ...I will recall how you stood up for what was right.... [incomprehensible] the choices you are making, I will also make... You're teaching me how to live, whether you know it or not."

That's not in line with the verses I discussed in the Update. It isn't automatic. The kid says he's doing what he should be doing, so dad had better measure up, because how the kid turns out depends completely on what his dad does and says now. Because the kid's just soaking it in.

That is not how Proverbs depicts the process.

Just isn't automatically true. Read the verses, my discussion, the other post I link to. Just isn't automatically and universally true that kids carefully watch, accept, absorb, soak in, and emulate their fathers. If it were, those verses would be as silly as verses urging kids to eat ice cream.

Aaron said...

I didn't like the video. I didn't find some insidious message, but I thought the message to be irrelevant. SolaMommy asked: "Well, what was this video intended for?" Obviously for Christians. Does a Christian father really need to be reminded of this? I have a two year old daughter. She parrots everything I say or do. I don't need some video to remind me that she is watching what I'm doing or that I need to live a life that I should be living as a Christian.

This is a video probably designed for some seeker sensitive church service that plans to use various verses out of context during a generic sermon on parenting.

And Dan,

I agree that this is Proverbs run amok. I really have problems with people ripping verses out of Scripture. Proverbs is a book of wisdom not absolute guarantees. Secondarily, Proverbs does not say "live an exemplary life and your child will imitate you." It says "train" your child. My daughter is currently in swim lessons. You don't teach her to swim by showing her what a great swimmer you are (although it is certainly an encouragement). You have her taught how to swim with instruction.

DJP said...

Yes, and:

If it were inevitable that dads taught their sons God-centered wisdom, Proverbs wouldn't have to keep telling them to do it.


If it were inevitable that sons took to heart the God-centered wisdom their dads taught them, Proverbs wouldn't have to keep telling them to do hear, listen, hearken, memorize, and so forth.

Aaron said...

Good points, which is why I try to memorize Proverbs dealing with other areas too (like adultery, etc.). If I wasn't prone to do it, I wouldn't need to told in several chapters not to do it.

(incidentally, I use this argument on the alcohol prohibitionists. If the wine was really so diluted, too expensive, or simply grape juice it seems a little odd that the Bible would spend so much time telling us not to get drunk.)

At least the video doesn't intimate that if you have dinner with your family that it will necessarily lead to your kids being well behaved and will become good students.