We teach our young men fairly well these days, especially now that man-bashing has become a cultural phenomenon. We, meaning women, seem to think they are responsible for all the ills in the world, and bumbling idiots to boot. If you haven’t noticed that on television, you haven’t been paying enough attention. So we teach them to be considerate husbands and involved fathers. But have we ever taught them that, as the Divinely appointed head in practically all situations, they are to be spiritual leaders? It is up to them, the scriptures say, to bring up their children “in the chastening and admonition of the Lord,” Eph 6:4. It is up to them to “feed the flock” Acts 20:28. It is up to them to make their wives holy (Eph 5:25-27). As a woman I am not the one to teach this, but I can share with you the men in my life and how they have fulfilled their duties, and let their examples teach. I am blessed to have had these men watching out for my spiritual growth and learning.
Obviously, fathers have the most to do with a child’s spiritual growth. I have already introduced you to my father, Gerald Ayers--his example, his wisdom, and his care. Because he understood his role, I grew up to be a Christian, not just someone who “got wet” and sat on a pew, but a real disciple of Christ.
In my house, no one ever questioned where we would be on Sunday and Wednesday. There was never any reason to ask if I could miss an assembly for anything whatsoever. It went without saying. That kind of consistency is remarkably absent these days. We try so hard to teach people that being a Christian is about more than sitting on a pew that we forget to tell them where and when to sit at all.
Yet I knew that assembly wasn’t all of it. “Little pitchers have big ears,” we say of our children. I heard some of the things he went through at work because he wouldn’t participate in after hours drinking, because he wouldn’t lie for the boss, and because his language was above reproach. They called him, “Shucks,” because that was the strongest word that ever came out of his mouth, and most of them meant it as an insult. I knew that being a Christian was important enough to take those insults, to be shunned, and to stand up when no one else stood with you. My mother stood right there beside him.
As I grew older he made sure I had the tools to study my Bible. He made sure I had the time to do my lessons. When a science teacher in the 8th grade gave me grief for being a Creationist, he gave me the materials I needed. He had collected them and filed them away, and when the day came and I needed help, he handed me plenty of ammunition to fight my first real battle as a believer. Thanks to him I wrote a paper that impressed even my teacher, according to her written remarks, even though to save face she only gave me a B+. As a straight A student, I wore that B+ like a badge of honor. It was my first ding in God’s service.
My father continued in his role as leader when his grandsons came along. They both remember his kindness, his smile, and the hymns he constantly sang. Before he died, even in a state of increasing dementia, he was concerned about our faith. “I want us all worshipping with the saints in Heaven,” he told me. Recently I dedicated one of my posts to him, and I often use him as an example in my classes. He was the first of my spiritual leaders and probably the most important because he set the foundation for others to build on.
But there were three more men who influenced me greatly, and I want you to know them too. I hope you will continue to join me every Monday as I share them with you.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah. Joshua 24:15.