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Flourishing Family Week 5: Passionate Parents | Ephesians 6:4

Mary Ellen Ermis October 8, 2023 sermons, cityrise, Ephesians, Flourishing Family, houston, Roger Patterson, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, October 8, 2023 at our West U Baptist campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

When Brady, our oldest son, was three years old, I remember he asked me, “Daddy, who’s daddy am I going to be when I get big?”

That was when it first clicked for me that my child was watching, learning, and hoping to one day imitate what he saw in his daddy.

Roles in my life – Church, can I tell you something? I love being your pastor. It not an easy role, and it’s ever-changing, but I love being your pastor.

But I tell you that, because more than being your pastor, I love, love, love being Julee’s husband and father to Brady, Cooper, and Carson.

There is no greater joy and stewardship responsibility that I feel than being Julee’s husband and being my children’s father.

I’m passionate about it. I’m passionate about my wife and our marriage. It’s like we were made to be married to each other.

And I’m passionate about being a father…like, it’s the hardest thing, the coolest thing, and the sweetest thing, all rolled into one.

And Parents, we have difficult jobs, don’t we?

  • Dads you have a difficult job as a father in 2023.  You play many challenging roles.

You are the:

  • Husband
  • Provider
  • Coach
  • Churchman
  • Disciplinarian

Many of you have careers that require

  • great amounts of travel
  • long hours
  • great amounts of time away from family

It is rare that you get a day to yourself.

  • Moms…you juggle with the finest of jugglers! Oh my, you do an amazing job!

 You are:

  • Awake before everyone in the house
  • In your own career
  • Manage the laundry,
  • The family calendar
  • You have like, 3 kids at 3 schools!
  • You cook, clean, and chauffeur your kids to practices and rehearsals
  • You do the laundry and the dishes
  • And can I just say… Wow! You make CHRISTMAS GREAT! THANK YOU for making CHRISTMAS AMAZING!

And when we are so busy, it is so easy to take our eyes off of the goal of parenting and the responsibility we have been given by God.

As a result, we feel that our parenting suffers because we are just moving from one thing to the next.

So, what happens?

When we are just moving from one moment to the next…and one responsibility to the next, we lose sight of our greatest role as parents…and that is the role of Teacher!

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

We’ve been talking about a Flourishing Family. And we have talked about marriage. Pastor Ben brought our kids in to the worship service last week and we talked about Children.

Today, I want us to wrap up this series, talking about the role of parents.

And Parents, as you can see, we are to be Teachers!

Now, the word translated as Fathers, is also translated in other places as PARENTS. And Paul, coming off of the instruction to children, says, “Dads…or Parents…let me tell you what not to do, and what to do.”

And our aim is that we want to flourish. We want your home to flourish. So, mom and dad, I Want to give you some real practical counsel.

First, let’s notice the negative command. It says, “Do not provoke your children to anger.”

The Greco-Roman culture was very Patriarchal. The term was PATERFAMILIAS. The Patriarch, the oldest male in the home, controlled the family estate. The buck stopped with him.

Additionally, Ceasar Augustus was considered the Pater Patriae, the Father of Fathers. And since he ruled with an iron fist, men often took their cue from the way the government maintained order and control in the home, and did the same thing.

Thus, the father might use a whip!

Now, stop for a moment and remember, the call across the Roman Empire was for Ceasar to be Lord.

But the Christians rejected this. To the Christian, Jesus was Lord! That was and is our confession.

And the culture Ceasar Augustus created was to be the Father of Fathers…in other words the Government tried to control the home and the way parenting took place.

Well, guess what? The Christian rejected this also.

The conviction of Christian parents is that our children are God-given gifts to us that we are to shepherd and steward. They are not to be controlled by or indoctrinated by the state.

Ceasar is not the Father of the Fathers.

Today, in our country, there is a move through this administration’s Department of Justice to limit the rights of parents. The Attorney General has equated parents at school board meetings with terrorists. In some states, if a child wants to transition its gender, through the local schools, that process can take place without parental knowledge, consent or involvement.

But before God, you have been given authority and responsibility to raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

  • It’s your calling.
  • It’s your greatest privilege.
  • It’s your highest responsibility.

So, this teaching…Fathers, or more broadly, Parents, do not exasperate your children…it would have been revolutionary.

Paul is saying, “Do not beat them down.”

According to Peter O’Brien, Effectively the apostle is ruling out “excessive severe discipline, unreasonably harsh demands, abuse of authority, arbitrariness, unfairness, constant nagging and condemnation, subjecting a child to humiliation, and all forms of gross insensitivity to a child’s needs and sensibilities.” Behind this curbing of a father’s authority is the clear recognition that children, while they are expected to obey their parents in the Lord, are persons in their own right who are not to be manipulated, exploited, or crushed.[1]

[1]Peter T. O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 446).

I found in my notes a document called 25 Ways that Parents Provoke their Children to Anger. I have put that on the APP at the bottom of the fill-in notes, so you can see this as a reference. It also has scriptural references in it.

And I’m so glad that the Apostle Paul didn’t just tell us what not to do, but also what TO Do.

Look at the second half of Ephesians 6:4.

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

This second half…that’s where we play offense.  We are told what not to do…now, let’s dial into what we are to do.

We are to… “bring them up…” This term literally means to nourish….to feed.

We are told to feed our children the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

So, let’s talk about this most important role…the role of Teacher.

When my children were little, we would buy them balls and bats and a T to hit off of…soccer balls and a soccer goal…footballs and some shoulder pads. And we got a big golf set for toddlers…and some oversize golf balls.

As 3 yr. olds, none of them were necessarily sure how to use the bat or the golf club, or even how to throw a football.

Naturally, our job as parents was to show them how to use the toys properly.

Teach him how to hold the bat: keep head down swing through the ball…

Now, why would I do this?

It’s real simple…when any of my kids got to T-BALL, I wanted them to DOMINATE! I wanted them to be the FIRST PICK in the DRAFT…I mean…we are working towards a scholarship!

In all seriousness…when my kids got to t-ball, I wanted them to look like they knew what to do…and when the real games were played, I wanted them to succeed.

In the real game of life, parents, I want to challenge you to teach your kids in three key areas. In the discipline and instruction of the Lord…

Teach Your Children about…

  1. Reverence
  2. Relationships
  3. Responsibility

This will be accomplished by Observation, Imitation, and Repetition.

I. Teach your kids to Revere God.

Now, if you have heard me teach much, you know how much I enjoy the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs is perfect for this message of teaching our children because at its core, the message of Proverbs is instruction from a father, Solomon, to his son.

Proverbs 3:3-4

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
    in the sight of God and man.

  • Love – Loving God with all of me – heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s steadfast…it’s consistent. It’s unchanging. This is a daily surrender of my life to Christ.

This is the love that is to never leave us.

  • Faithfulness –
    • The call to finish what you started…
    • the call to be obedient when difficult…
    • the call to be true to your convictions…
  • How do we cultivate faithfulness? By:
  • Trust – Where our understanding is SECONDARY…and our dependence on God and His character and promises is PRIMARY!

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

  • Humility – that reveres God and resists temptation!

Proverbs 3:7

Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

  • Honor – Setting aside resource…time and treasure, to bless God through my life. My kids need to see me doing this!

Proverbs 3:9

Honor the Lord with your wealth
    and with the firstfruits of all your produce;

When you set apart your wealth unto God…your resources unto the Lord, it has an effect on all that you are.

Remember the teaching – Revere God by being loving and faithful – cultivate trust…humility…honor.

For our kids to walk in it – We must model it!

  • Observation
  • Imitation
  • Repitition

In the discipline and instruction of the Lord…

Teach Your Children about…

  1. Reverence
  2. Relationships
  3. Responsibility

II.  Relationships:  The second area in which we are to teach is that of Relationships.

  • As they grow older and begin to become independent, we must talk with them about peerpressure!
  • Look at the warning given to us about those we run with…notice how easy it is to pull someone down.

Proverbs 1:10-18

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
    do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
    let us ambush the innocent without reason;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
    and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we shall find all precious goods,
    we shall fill our houses with plunder;
14 throw in your lot among us;
    we will all have one purse”—
15 my son, do not walk in the way with them;
    hold back your foot from their paths,
16 for their feet run to evil,
    and they make haste to shed blood.
17 For in vain is a net spread
    in the sight of any bird,
18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
    they set an ambush for their own lives.

Who is in your life that is trying to pull you down? Who is trying to get you to:

  • Gossip?
  • Badmouth?
  • Speak poorly against your boss, your professor, your company?

Who is in your life that is toxic and drama follows them everywhere?

Who is trying to take someone else out and they are trying to involve you? WATCH OUT!


Quit walking with these people!

Now, mom and dad, let me ask you about the friends of your children:

  • Do you know who their friends are?
  • Are you in tune enough with them that you can talk with them about these relationships? And will they listen?
  • What do you know about the character of these characters?

Secondly — The primary relationship that you are modeling for your children is how to be a spouse and how to treat a spouse.

To a daughter:

Proverbs 12:4

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
    but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.

Dad, are you talking to your daughters about how to be a wife of Nobel Character?

Here is how to teach on that:

“Honey, I want you to know how your mom is such a precious gift of God to me.

She is . . . .”

Teach – Point your daughter to look at the life of your wife and encourage her to emulate her as she would become a wife someday.

Moms, you do the same about your husband to your daughter!

To a Son: What do we teach him?

Proverbs 18:22

He who finds a wife finds a good thing
    and obtains favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 19:14

 “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.”

Notice something with me here. Both of these verses end with… from the Lord.

Do you see how our journey of Reverence impacts our Relationships?

The gift of our spouse is from the Lord.

So, in teaching our sons, POINT your son to your wife.

  • Show him how God is blessing you because of your wife.
  • Talk about her qualities and attributes.
  • As you teach him about this relationship, your relationship with your spouse will improve.

Model for him how he should treat his wife by how you treat your wife.

Finally, Mom and Dad, make sure that proper sex education is being talked about in your home.  Mom talks with daughter; Dad talks with son

But dad, make sure it is happening.

If you don’t teach your kids that sexual relationships are to be in the context of marriage, your children will act on the messages that they are hearing everyday.


  • Observation
  • Imitation
  • Repetition

In the discipline and instruction of the Lord…

Teach Your Children about…

  1. Reverence
  2. Relationships
  3. Responsibility

III.       Teach them to be responsible.

We have to teach our kids to be Responsible with their words and responsible with their actions.

“Sticks & Stones can break my bones, but names hurt more than that.”

Mom and Dad, what are you saying and how are you saying it?

Do you realize that the words you use have the power to build up?  That your children might reach their potential?

Proverbs 16:21

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.”

Proverbs 16:23-24

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Do you want your kids, no matter their age, to listen to you? Consider the words you use.

Proverbs 18:21

 “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Are you wise with your words or foolish?

Proverbs 15:4

“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”


  • Observation
  • Imitation
  • Repetition

Let’s talk about Responsible Actions.


Concerning our actions, we must teach our kids to be responsible for the time, talent, and potential God has given them.

Proverbs 6:20-23

“My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.” (emphasis mine)

In all of our actions we must be responsible:

In our Walking,

Sleeping, Waking…

The corrections of discipline are the way of life.

So, what are you teaching your children about their actions? Are we holding them accountable? Or are we blaming their teachers, their coaches, other kids and families?

We are raising a lot of victims in this society. And it’s so easy to blame everyone else for our predicament.

But we have to be responsible and teach our children to be responsible.


  • Observation
  • Imitation
  • Repetition

Look at this last verse today…

Proverbs 22:6

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Moms and Dads, let me encourage you, train your child in:

Reverence, Relationships and Responsibility.