June 2008 – How significant are fathers to the growth of Christianity? According to Geoffrey Botkin, father of seven, they are central to the advancement of Biblical faith.
“If dads’ hearts are not toward their children, there’s no discipleship going on,” Botkin said, “and the great issues of the faith and the lessons of the faith are being lost. … You take the dad out of the picture for just one generation, and Christianity dies.”
Botkin, a former Marxist saved by God, speaks with passion about the importance of multi-generational faithfulness and long-term family planning.
“The greatest blessing you will ever give to your children … is the bequest that you give them from childhood,” he said. “It’s the character and the wisdom used in the shepherding of souls. …” To impart this blessing, the main tool Botkin and his wife Victoria use is the Bible.
In addition to father and husband, Botkin’s resume is long: author, international business leader, former pastor, advisor to the Western Conservatory to the Arts and Sciences, advocate of home education, former political consultant in Washington, D.C., and instructor and judge at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.
He recognizes the government school system and cinema as two avenues that are destroying Christianity. He also believes Christians are to reform the culture by being world changers.
While Botkin’s insights are profound, they are not intended to bind another’s conscience. However, AFA Journal finds great value in the importance he places on his family as he seeks to leave a lasting legacy for the glory of Christ.
Below, Botkin offers seven foundational elements of a family that should be instilled by parents and initiated by the father.
“A well-appointed Godly estate and home will have these seven foundational elements on which victorious sons and daughters can build their lives and faith,” Botkin explained.
The points are his comments condensed from a lecture given in June 2007 in Tupelo, Mississippi, to a group of home educators. His comments are directed to fathers.
Children must find confidence in their parents’ commitment to lifelong providence.
Which means you [as parents] will take care of them all your life as long as you have breath. Daughters need to hear this a lot. They see girls who have been abandoned at young ages by their daddies, who’ve said to them: “Honey, I’ll take care of you until you’re 18, then you’re on your own.” [Instead], daughters need to hear you say, “Honey, I will take care of you. I’ll guard you. I’ll protect you. I’ll watch out for you.” The way the Lord has structured the family, fathers are the protector of their daughters.
The world has got it wrong, and the Scripture has got it right. Fathers need to pledge their support and instruction and Biblical love, which are all based on Biblical duty. Fatherly love should be characterized by complete protection against besetting sins.
Against dangerous media and amusements, fathers are the gate and the guardian. Against unsound education of any kind, and I don’t mean just government school education. You make the cut and you guard the influences that shape your children’s hearts and minds and worldviews. Dads, you need to be the discerning guardian of your family in everything and be decisive about what you say yes to and what you say no to. Cleanse your homes.
Fatherly love should be characterized by attention that we give our children, which really does need to be intimate and respectful conversation. Talk to them about very serious things all their lives. Daily disciple them through work. Work is the very best thing for our children to help teach them, show them where they’re weak in character and how they can grow through that.
The most important thing I ever taught my sons was that life is a battleground, not a playground. When they began going through life thinking this and living this, they were thinking about what worlds they could conquer for Jesus Christ in their lives and how to prepare for it now.
Children must be given a comprehensive understanding of both Old and New Testaments, with studies in systematic theology.
Our attention must also be to give our girls [and boys] sound theological teaching. It was because we were giving our girls – just mainly at our dinner table – teaching in systematic theology that they were able to tackle [as teens, writing] a book that covers many very complex topics accurately from a theological basis.
If we get off course just a little bit in our theology, it can have massive repercussions for years. [But] we can give our sons a vision to correct those little errors and get civilization back on the right track. They can study Scripture and learn to apply it properly to every area of life – beginning in the family, where they have complete jurisdiction, to churches where they might have partial jurisdiction and to civil governments where they can begin to have more influence over time.
Daughters must receive affectionate instruction in sensible living.
One of the very best examples of this was a man named John Gregory who was living in Scotland back in the 1700s. His wife had just died. He realized he was dying [so] he sat down and wrote out sensible instruction to [his three] little girls.
He talked to them about some of the most basic things: what to eat, how to eat, how to dress, how modest to be and why. He said, “You’re representing women, you have a duty to dress and act and stand and speak as a woman created in the image of God for a purpose. Now how will you do that?”
Dads need to talk to their daughters about these very basic things.
Children need to hear serious kingdom conversations at home.
Serious discussion about Christ’s jurisdiction gives children discernment and understanding for all the things that they will be facing in life later. It will put the world in a Biblical perspective if they’re hearing things from their daddy all the time about news, what’s going on in the world, what’s happening in the newspaper. Anything that they see or hear, they need the dad to comment on.
Children must see a maturing father in a delightful relationship with his maturing wife.
You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be growing all the time. Modern Christianity is compromised, blind, and impotent because husbands literally are denying the faith by not caring for their households the way they should. Wives are dishonoring the Word of God by refusing to be submissive.
The duties of headship are protecting, rescuing, providing, sanctifying, cleansing, beautifying, cleaving to, and honoring our wives. In Ephesians 5 we’re commanded, “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” This means we lay our lives down for our wives. That’s our job as the head. To make her holy, that’s the goal.
Men, if we do these things for our wives, we will give our sons and our daughters an appreciation for the kinds of men and women that they should marry.
In preparation for marriage, children must learn to be tough, entrepreneurial and full of faith.
Our nation is messed up right now. Once we’re ordering our lives well and properly and Biblically, then God will supply what we need. In many cases it means to get to a manageable level – get out of debt, cut back, downshift, maybe sell out and move low. I know men who’ve done it, and it’s been such a blessing to them to have to live poor for a little while to get their feet on the ground spiritually.
You get your priorities right, your children will love you for it. They’ll see the bravery and the courage and the entrepreneurial effort that you’ve been through. We need to help our children become comfortable with things that are hard and help them be ready and willing to do hard things in faith and not with the arm of the flesh.
Families ought to consider making a 200-year family legacy plan of goals they want to accomplish on earth.
We’ve made a 200-year plan for our family on an Excel spreadsheet. It starts in the year 1980, when we were married, and goes up to the year 2180. Across the top of the page we simply list what we’d like to see happen in our family, in the world, in the community, in the churches by that year. Then down below, for each year, there are little milestones for things that we need to do and accomplish to achieve what we’d like to see happen in 2180.
Standing back and looking at it really has helped my sons and me, primarily, get a picture and find out exactly what I need to do to get there and to get my children there and prepare them so that they’ll be able to carry on a Godly legacy in their families.
The Battle for Civilization – A seven-part documentary TV series about cultural conflict. As described at www.battleforcivilization.org, “It represents a fresh and creative look at the little-known turning points in world culture that led to periods of temporary civilization. The content will help viewers apply some very practical knowledge to the challenges of the 21st century.” It is expected to release in 2009.
So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God by Anna Sofia Botkin and Elizabeth Botkin – Written by Geoffrey Botkin’s daughters when they were teenagers, this book provides an insightful look at femininity from a Biblical perspective. It’s counter-cultural and thought-provoking. Available at www.visionarydaughters.com.
For more Botkin projects, including The Return of the Daughters DVD, visit www.firstpacificmedia.com.