A Uniting Dad I’ve always been interested in music. During my adolescent years, I focused an enormous amount of time on the different tones that guitars and amps could provide. I had a certain tone that I loved and always sought to imitate that tone within my own equipment setup. When you’re looking at the controls of a guitar amp, you’re faced with a large amount of buttons, nobs, tubes, inputs, and outputs and it can seem confusing. However if you spend time playing and working with the dials, you’ll eventually get a tone that you’re happy with.
I feel like so much of the ministry of a father is centered around working on and setting the tone for his household. I don’t mean in a domineering way or a controlling way. I am literally referring to the tone that he sets for himself through his words and actions that allow for others in his household to follow suit. One quick way for the tone of a household to become harsh and dissonant is for the father to welcome in harsh words for church members. Let me explain.
In James 3:5-6 the brother of Jesus gives this strong warning against the power of the tongue:
So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
How easy is it for us to abuse the power of the tongue by talking about people that we go to church with? Have you ever been the part of a gossip ring within a church community? God forbid it but we know that it happens. Where does it happen? It happens in prayer requests, social events, online, and more. However, I think the most common environment for the destruction talked about in James 3 comes in the home.
Fathers can have a special influence on squashing the gossip, slander, and just closed door conversations that happen in regard to our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is so easy, and strangely therapeutic for some, to vent about frustrations with church staff, church members, or just the way a church is being led in general. However, allowing that kind of casual verbal assault can leave a bitter taste in the minds of our children.
When Christian parents use their tongue for the destruction of the reputation of those within the body of Christ, their kids will likely always struggle with viewing church members in a critical and negative way. They will probably struggle with the subtle hypocrisy that comes with putting on a face for church only to slander those they just smiled at once the car door shuts or once they are safely in the house.
So what can fathers do? Although its considered normal to vent about frustrations with church or talk about the inadequacies of others in a way that seems permissible, fathers can encounter that type of information with grace while also helping the family realize what they are doing and leading them to consider never speaking evil against anyone (much less a church member). What’s a great place to start? Never allowing your family members to experience you falling into this sin personally.
Is this role only reserved for fathers? Of course not. However, how cool would it be to see fathers take the lead in setting a specific tone in the house that provides the harmony of never speaking ill of those that God has called us to love.
Dad’s your family may be waiting on you to take a stand against setting ablaze the culture of your church in the eyes of your family members. What if, instead of gossip, the words that you model for your family lead to unity with those that Christ died for?