Devotional | Michael Milligan | Jun 16, 2024

Don’t Wait

Don’t Wait

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 


This is not the devotion I had planned to write. 

I intended to write a bubbly, inspiring, and uplifting devotion extolling the virtues and blessings of being a dad (of which there are many). 

But this is not that devotion.

Over the last 24 hours, my duties in Pastoral Care found me sitting with one of our older members and having to share with them that their son had died unexpectedly. That was followed by the privilege of spending time with a precious young family as they waited for their newborn baby, born with many insurmountable medical issues, to pass away just hours after arrival. The day culminated with me receiving the news that a pastor whom I respect a great deal and who has been instrumental in my development as a pastor would soon be removed from life support.

If I'm honest, I've had better days. Lots of them.

As I write this, I am struck by the brevity of life. The fact that lives can change and end in an instant is a truth most of us are never prepared for. Myself included. James 4:14 says: "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Humbling words. Sobering thoughts. Not bubbly, inspiring, or uplifting at all.

So what does any of this have to do with Father's Day? I'm glad you asked.

As dads—or parents in general—we have a finite amount of time to teach, train, love, influence, mold, shape, and love our kids. Let's not waste it. Life is short. We must make the most of every moment we have with our families. We must make the most of the mist that is our time here on earth.

Ephesians 6:4 tells us to bring [our children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord. How do we train our children? Here are five simple ways:

  1. Love your wife. If we want our sons to learn how to treat girls and women, then we should start by modeling the proper behavior for them. If our sons see how we esteem, serve, adore, and value our wives, they are more likely to adopt that behavior as their own. Conversely, if we want our daughters to learn how to expect to be treated by boys, young men, and eventually their husbands, we must set the example as we love and cherish our wives.
  2. Put your family before your work. God has called us to be pastors of our families. Yes, it is important we help provide for our families, but not at the expense of our families. The balance between work and home can be very challenging … it is an area of my life where I continue to struggle. I know there are busy seasons in our careers that are unavoidable, which is why it is so important we take advantage of those seasons that are less busy and pour ourselves into our families.
  3. Make worship a priority. This one may be unpopular. Most of our kids are not going to attend college on an athletic scholarship. Even fewer will play professional sports. So, are those travel teams that keep you and your family out of church more Sundays than not really that important? If we are to train and instruct our children that their relationship with God is their most important relationship, then why do we make exceptions for sports? To have healthy and vibrant spiritual lives, community within a local church is vital. When church attendance becomes the exception rather than the rule, we are teaching our children disordered priorities. 
  4. Live the great commandments. Jesus teaches that the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love people. All people. Not just the ones who look like us, talk like us, or vote like us. ALL PEOPLE. How we treat others, how we resolve differences, and how we forgive are all patterns we are currently imprinting on the lives of our children. What do those patterns look like?
  5. Tell your family you love them. It sounds simple, but often we neglect to reinforce this most basic (and important) message. Do it often. Multiple times a day. You can never tell them enough.

Senior Pastor Marty Grubbs often uses an example to demonstrate how quickly our time as parents can pass. When each of his children were born, he took a jar and filled it with about 936 marbles. Roughly, the number of weeks until that particular child turned 18 and left home. Then, at the conclusion of each week, he would remove a marble from the jar. As each child grew, the number of marbles in each jar diminished, until finally, there were no marbles left. It is a pretty powerful visual.

Here's the good news: It's never too late to start. From here on out, make the most of every moment you have with your family. Date your wife. Be silly with your kids. Encourage daily. Leave no loving words unsaid.

Make the most of your mist.


Holy Spirit, remind us what is important. Grow our love for God and faith in Jesus. Amen.

Michael Milligan
Pastoral Care - Congregational Care


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