He sacrificed his children in the fire…
practiced divination and witchcraft, sought omens, 
and consulted mediums and spiritists. 
He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger. 
2 Chronicles 33:6

King Manasseh would never be named Father of the Year. Not only did Manasseh sacrifice his own babies to idols, but because he was king, other dads followed his example. He led the nation of Judah into all kinds of wickedness, so God was angry with him. Manasseh had so hardened his heart against the Lord that even child sacrifice was acceptable. He assumed he had God’s favor because he was king of God’s people, so he might as well court the favor of idols too. Can’t have too many gods, right? Wrong. So how could a father justify sacrificing his own children? For the same reasons we do.

When the Lord ceases being our only God, we are prone to all kinds of twisted thinking. Many modern fathers have done as Manasseh did and sacrificed their children upon the altars of selfishness and pride. “You’re pregnant? Here’s $500. Get rid of it.” We sacrifice them in other ways as well: their values to the sports god, their self-worth to the money god, and their minds to the entertainment god. The good news is that by verse 20, Manasseh repented. He tried to reverse the damage he’d caused, but even then, his eldest son followed in his footsteps to become Judah’s next evil king. No sin is too great for God’s pardon, but often the damage is irreversible. When we repent, God forgives, but scars may remain. Don’t be a Manasseh.


When King David heard what had happened, 
he was very angry. 
2 Samuel 13:1

David. Dreamy songwriter. Innocent shepherd boy. Mighty warrior. God’s hand-picked king of Israel. David wore many hats, most of them extraordinarily well. But he failed in one of his most important roles—father. Running a kingdom isn’t for sissies: slaughtering evil villains, making wise decisions, and keeping all those wives happy. He was proactive in bringing justice to the nation, but failed to do it in his own household when he learned that his son had raped his daughter. When Absalom learned that their father had done nothing, he became bitter and plotted to kill his half-brother and take the kingdom from his father. David was angry about the rape, but did nothing to vindicate his daughter, so she “remained desolate in her brother’s house.”

We may not have kingdoms to run, but we often allow our kids to bully each other by ignoring the victims and excusing the victimizers. “They’re just kids. All siblings pick on each other,” say the David-like fathers. Sadly, some oblivious parents allow abuse of all kinds to continue under their roof because it’s too much trouble to keep close tabs on what the kids are doing. “You kids get along!” David-like parents shout from the other room, while a lifetime of damage is being done sibling-on-sibling. David refused to address the dysfunction in his own household and lost the respect of his kids. Don’t be a David.


Eli's sons were scoundrels; 
they had no regard for the LORD. 
1 Samuel 2:12

Eli held one of the most respected positions in the Jewish community— a priest in God’s temple. It was his job to hear from the Lord and make God’s will known to the people. But he was also the father of two sons. Church kids. While Eli was busy at the temple, the boys ran wild. Eli made the mistake many parents make, especially those in ministry. He elevated church work over family responsibilities, and assumed the kids would catch morality like the flu. God judged him for not restraining them.

God warned Eli years earlier that his sons were no good and he needed to do something about that. But like many fathers, Eli was passive. Discipline required energy and unpleasant confrontation, so he ignored their ungodly behaviors. We see this attitude after a thug has been arrested for assaulting someone. “He’s a good boy,” the tearful mother says. “He just got in with the wrong crowd.” That may be true. But it’s more likely that he WAS the wrong crowd. It’s difficult for us to see the people we love realistically, but God doesn’t wear rose-colored glasses when he sees our family. He expects parents to be intentional about teaching, disciplining, and restraining their children. Eli remained passive, and everyone suffered. Don’t be an Eli.


The two angels arrived at Sodom… 
and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. 
Genesis 19:1

Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked places long before Lot arrived. Yet, he chose to move there anyway and became a respected leader in the most perverted twin-cities in the region. His neighbors, co-workers, and friends were vile and twisted people, but there were exciting career opportunities and the weather was beautiful. Lot may have excused his continued stay by thinking that he was a good influence; instead, he got comfortable with their sin. While Lot thought he was conquering Sodom, Sodom was conquering his family. His wife was destroyed and the girls ended up committing incest with their father.

Power, money, and success are strong lures, and many fathers sacrifice everything for them. They, like Lot, see a great opportunity and ignore everything else. They brush off the warning cries of “What about your family?” by insisting that they’re “doing this for them.” So they throw money, possessions, and permission at the kids instead of time, attention, and instruction. They assume the schools will educate them, the church will spiritualize them, and the mom will discipline them. Only too late do they realize that while they were conquering the world, the world was conquering their kids. Don’t be a Lot.


Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons... 
Genesis 37:3

“Here he comes, Dad’s little pet,” Rueben smirked. The ten brothers stood as a unit, hostility crackling in the air. As the eldest, Rueben had been the apple of his father’s eye, and the brothers all knew they were the fulfillment of God’s promise to their grandfather, Abraham. They had purpose, position, and power. Then Joseph came along, and Dad seemed to forget the rest of them. To make it worse, Dad flaunted his favoritism, giving an expensive robe to a little kid. The brat wore it like he was a king. They gave up trying to get Dad’s attention and turned their focus upon the one who’d stolen it. Hurt and resentment mushroomed into fighting and revenge. Little brother became the enemy and home became a battlefield.

Maybe you grew up in a home like that. You know the sting of favoritism and swore you’d never do that to your kids. But now, your family accuses you of the same thing. You don’t mean to, but it’s hard to treat them all equally when some are harder to handle than others. But there’s that one who wanted you when the others wanted Mama. Or he/she likes what you like, wants to be with you. Being a parent to more than one child is overwhelming, and treating them all equally is easier than it sounds. But if you find yourself favoring one child over the others, Jacob invites you to take a peek into his home and learn from his mistakes. His favoritism created disaster for one son and incited lying, hatred, and revenge in the others. Don’t be a Jacob.