Jonathan Edwards and Fathers, Part One

The following is the first of a two part series on Jonathan Edwards by my friend Pastor John Fanella. Edwards was used by God to lead the Great Awakening. He was also not so arguably the greatest Christian mind ever produced in America. This material is used with John’s permission.

A Tribute to a Godly Father – Jonathan Edwards – Part 1

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, I am offering a two-part tribute to a godly father and pastor – Jonathan Edwards. I pray his life will be an inspiration to fathers today.

A study was done of the 1400 descendents of a Colonial American Congregational pastor and Father by the name of Jonathan Edwards. The study found that his descendents include:

· thirteen college presidents

· sixty-five professors

· 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school

· thirty judges

· sixty-six physicians and a dean of a medical school

· eighty holders of public office, including:

· three U.S. senators

· mayors of three large cities

· governors of three states

· a vice president of the U.S.

· a controller of the U.S. Treasury

More importantly, his descendants entered the Christian ministry in platoons. At least a hundred went to the mission field overseas, and many have stocked mission boards with lay trustees.

Jonathan Edwards was perhaps the most influential Father in American history. So who was he and what can we learn from him today?

In short, Jonathan Edwards was an 18th-century (born 1703) pastor, theologian, and author. He is credited with being the greatest mind America has ever produced. His preaching is credited with beginning the First Great Awakening, the greatest spiritual revival in American history. He preached the most famous sermon in American history – Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God–which is stillrequired reading today in most college English classes.

But he was also a very godly man. He was a man who deeply believed in the Bible, loved and adored God, savored Jesus Christ, and delighted in knowing him. His sermons and his books reflect this deeply affectionate love for God and submission to His sovereign will in all things.

But our purpose here is to focus more on his family life. He was married to Sarah Pierpont–a very godly and influential woman herself.

Together they had eleven children. Sarah, Jerusha, Esther, Mary, Lucy, Timothy, Susannah, Eunice, Jonathan, Elizabeth, and Pierpont.

He was an extremely busy man. He spent 13 hours a day engaged in his pastoral work, writing, and studying. Therefore most of the care of the family was the work of his wife Sarah.

But Jonathan was an intentional husband and father. He helped with many of the daily chores in the home. With the children, he took the time every morning to hold daily devotional meetings. Music played an important role. He taught them to sing praises to God.

He sought his children’s salvation and prayed for them. He ensured that they learned the Bible and knew the things of God.` He was a spiritually-minded father.

He also spent one hour every day with the children where they could talk about whatever they wanted, or play with him. He ended that time praying a blessing over his children. God seems to have used this intentional, though minimal, influence with his children to great effect.

That’s a lesson we can learn from Edwards. Be intentional with your children. Have a plan for how you influence them. Be proactive not just reactive. Have a pattern and a method of influencing your children.