Punch List For Fathers

by Dennis Michelson
(Painesville, Ohio)

Proverbs 1:8

Introduction: A punch list is used in the construction trades to indicate what needs to be done in order to complete a project. It is a list of tasks used to organize the completion of a construction project. The following are four essential tasks fathers need to complete in the biblical construction (and instruction) of their children.

Some of the duties of a father are temporary but instruction lasts for an entire lifetime. Fathers control children when they are young. They are concerned about their children throughout life. Fathers should always be relied upon for counsel as long as they live. These are four areas of biblical instruction fathers need to include on their "punch list."

1. THE LAW OF A FATHER (Proverbs 28:7)

It is not vital that we inculcate our children with our traditions but it is essential that we teach them God's truth. The Hebrew word for "law" in this text suggests the ten commandments. What better curriculum to follow could there be?

We often confuse our children with the handbook of the school or the church and they lose sight of the law of God. Galatians 3:24 states that the law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. The ancient Jews missed it by embracing the shadows and missing the substance.

Fundamental Pharisees can miss it today by teaching their children that a "Christian list" ought to be a viable substitute for a "Christian life." Fathers, be sure your standards are in line with God's law. The goal of such instruction is...

Our children must understand that the purpose of the law is to convince us of our need for the Lord. If our children only keep the law - but miss the Lord - then their latter end will be worse than the former.

2. THE LOVE OF A FATHER (Proverbs 3:11-12)

A father's greatest delight ought to be when our children willingly do what God wants them to do, not merely do what we make them do. The goal of such instruction is...

The children being righteous is more important than the father being right.


The life of a father should be characterized by his...

  • Love for the Lord (Deut. 6:4-9)

  • Love for his wife (Ephesians 5:25)

  • Teaching his children (Ephesians 6:4)

One of the greatest lessons your children will ever see will be your visible and demonstrable love for the Lord and your love for your wife. We are commanded to love our wives and teach our children. Beware when you love your children (more than your wife) and you want to teach your wife.

4. THE LEGACY OF A FATHER (Proverbs 13:22)

A legacy is something handed down from an ancestor which will outlast the deceased ancestor. What will you leave for your children and grandchildren that will endure?

  • Money? (Proverbs 20:21; 19:14)

    It is a good thing when we can leave money (as opposed to debt) for our children and grandchildren. However the Scriptures caution that an inheritance suddenly gained can be suddenly lost.

  • Memories? (Proverbs 10:7)

  • Message! (Proverbs 24:16)

When some ministers die you can enlist a parade of preachers to pontificate about what a great man the departed person was. Would you rather have elouqent preachers deliver a message at your funeral about how great you were as a preacher...

...or would you rather have your family stand up and tell all the preachers what a great father you were? Always remember there will be those who can recall how many times you fell but few who can recount how many times you dusted yourself off and got back in the race.

Conclusion: The best lessons are caught, not taught.

You are writing a Gospel,
A chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do,
And the words that you say,
Men read what you write,
Whether faithful or true,
Now - what is the Gospel,
according to you?

Forget the preachers. Ask your wife and children. They know if the version you are living is the "authorized version" or just a loose paraphrase.

Comments for Punch List For Fathers

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Jun 21, 2009
by: Dan Woodard

Thank you, Dennis! This message certainly brought back great memories from being in your Homiletics class, 30 years ago right now! More importantly, it sure reminded of the critical nature of my integrity as a dad with my boys and Deanna. With my boys now ages 23, 20 and 17, it's becoming increasingly apparent that there's no end in sight to fathering! Today I'm thanking God for the fathering journey and the daily-ness of being dad.
The Lord bless you, Dennis! You are dearly beloved.
Dan Woodard
Carstairs, Alberta, Canada

Jun 21, 2009
You Hit the Nail on the Head!
by: Mark Hollingsworth

Speaking of a punch list, you hit the nail on the head with this sermon. I think all of us fathers needed this one. Thanks for sharing it with us, Dennis.

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