Read – 1 Samuel 2
Focus on verse 12
When leaders abuse the power and influence they have attained it is a dreadful thing for those who find themselves at their mercy. When leaders whom God has ordained to power abuse their influence for selfish gain, the offense is not just to those they abuse, but also to God Himself. The indictment against the sons of Eli (which really also falls on Eli as the father of these men) is a tragic one.
“Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.”(v. 12)
So here we have priests who collect the Lord’s sacrifices from the people, who are supposed to be ones who help the people connect with their God, and these men themselves DO NOT KNOW GOD? While it is not as though Eli turns a blind eye to what they are doing, he does reprimands them (albeit apparently not strongly enough) but their response is to blatantly ignore the reprimand. It makes one wonder if this is indicative of how little they respect and honor their father; either way, they depicted for us as worthless men whom God chose to make an example —as a father of sons, I do not envy the position of Eli.
Perhaps what this reading emphasizes most to me is the importance of being a father to one’s children. It takes a sizable investment of time, a sacrifice of energy, and the wisdom of Solomon to effectively raise children from when they are very young through adulthood and beyond in a manner by which they grow up to fear and honor God as well as other people. If we as fathers abdicate this responsibility we risk raising a generation of uncivilized, angry children, who fail to launch into adulthood. Children who grow up without a healthy father figure that they learn to respect, tend to grow up angry, rebellious and unruly. One must understand that ALL children are born with a rebellious nature. As a parent it is much more difficult to deal with this rebellion when the child is 14 than it is when he or she is 4. The time to instill discipline, respect for authority, and self control into the mind and heart of a child is before they turn 5, and it is nearly impossible to achieve in a lasting fashion if the parent does not first capture the heart of the child through a genuine loving relationship.
The only way I know of to capture the heart of a child is to spend a reasonable amount of time with that child. The problem with attempting to spend a few moments of “quality time” is that quality time tends not to happen without a substantial quantity of time being spent along with it.
When fathers abdicate their responsibility of raising the children with the cooperation of the mother they brought them into the world with, it is as much an abuse of power as those who abuse the power they have been entrusted with over their children by mistreating them. To the credit of the grace of God and the strength and tenacity of dedicated single mothers, and faithful step dads, many children who have for any number of reasons become fatherless, have grown up to be incredibly well adjusted people. I might add that none of this is to imply that a mother’s role is any less important in the life of a child — that is simply a topic for a different day.