Lessons from Jewish Fathers for Christian Fathers and Pastors

Musings on Discipleship

I am convinced that Jesus’ pattern with his disciples was Hebraic in pattern. That is, the way that he taught his disciples was patterned after what a Jewish father was expected to do with his children according to the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

What did that pattern look like? Part of it took advantage of the teachable moments in the religious calendar. Father’s used the festivals, like the day of Atonement and the Passover to help sons and daughters learn the history of the nation.

“Before there was ever a school to teach him, a son would learn from his father the history of his country, the holy righteousness of God, and the bounty of God in the world of nature. In a Jewish home the father was bound to accept the duty of the religious education of his son.” 

Train Up a Child: Educational
Ideals in the Ancient World
William Barclay, p. 22-23.

Part of the training was wrapped up in the what followed the great declaration of the Shema in verse 4:

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV)
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Training occurred as a part of everyday life in every opportunity throughout the day from morning to night. A Jewish father was to look for opportunities everywhere he could to train up the next generation in the things of God. Obviously, a Jewish father was to take his role as a teacher of his children very seriously.

Some thoughts: 

  1. If Christian parents followed this model, we would have healthier families, churches and communities. 
  2. If pastors followed this example, they would seek to have more “with me” time with the people they are seeking to influence for Christ.
  3. Jesus had lots of  “with me” time with his disciples as they walked from town to town preaching the gospel. 
  4. We, fathers and pastors, need to figure out what “with me” looks like and feels like in our own cultural setting.
  5. When we do, we will be far more effective at our jobs as men, husbands, fathers and pastors


  • What does “with-me” look like with sons and daughters under 10?
  • What does “with-me” look like with tweens and teenagers?
  • What does it look like with twenty-somethings?
  • What does it look like for pastors?

2 thoughts on “Lessons from Jewish Fathers for Christian Fathers and Pastors

  1. Thanks for the provoking thoughts. I suspect you are right on. Overcoming the cultural impediments and old habits of training modeled over the years will be the challenge. I’ll be considering your questions.


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