A Father’s Gift: Lessons from Proverbs
The Foreword to Kenneth B. Wingate’s new Banner of Truth book1
There is a long and honourable tradition in the English-speaking world of lawyers who have distinguished themselves not only in their profession as attorneys, but in the exemplary way in which they have served their cities, states and nations with great distinction.
The southern states of what is now the United States of America have been marked by men in the legal profession who have been distinguished by their Christian character, their role in the church, their leadership in their home, and all of this grounded in their love for the ministry of God’s Word and their disciplined personal reading and study of it. Their Christian faith has driven their professional lives simply because faith in Christ has been the driving force of the whole of their lives.
Kenneth Wingate belongs to this noble company. His calling is to practice law in Columbia, South Carolina. His passion is to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. He has done this with grace and thoroughness in the concentric spheres of his life: family, church, profession, city and state.
A Father’s Gift gives hints of these circles of life without detailing the extent to which its author has been trusted to serve in them with distinction. It has been written, essentially, for his own family – not least for himself as a means of clarifying the responsibilities and privileges he has shared with his wife Cathy for the Christian nurturing of their children. It is in the truest sense a father’s gift to his own family, and our privilege as readers to be able to eavesdrop on the counsel Ken has mined from the wisdom of God’s Word, and especially from the book of Proverbs. The fruit of all this, as I am able to testify from personal friendship – although perhaps Miriam, Bryan, and Catharine would rather I left their names out of this foreword! – is the reproduction, by God’s Word and Spirit, of Christian character – and ‘characters’.
Many young parents today are beside themselves with anxieties about their children, and, sadly, confusion too about how to nurture them. The ongoing addiction of our times to the heresy of modernity (‘the latest book, or guru, is likely to have it right’) and its proud rejection – and ignorance – of the tested and tried wisdom of the past, inevitably leads to dysfunction in home and family life. Sadly, the older, wiser counsel of God’s Word – and especially of the book of Proverbs – is unknown or neglected. Yet Proverbs was composed specifically as a manual for home and family instruction, and to prepare us for life in the world. It is a divinely given handbook to help parents. Indeed it appears to begin, as Old Testament theologian Bruce Waltke has insightfully shown, with a series of basic ‘father-son’ talks (easily translated into father-daughter or mother-daughter talks!). These are then followed by a miniature library of wisdom expressed in memorable – and easily memorized – ways.
Proverbs – and Ken Wingate following it – does not provide a mechanical, formalized, slot machine approach to building Christian character (do X and Y is guaranteed). Rather it shows us the way to possess the jewel of all jewels in a well-adorned life: wisdom that is rooted in the knowledge of, and reverential love for, God. ‘The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight’ (Prov. 4:7). From chapter 1 these parent-child talks point us to their fruit in manly godliness and their expression in the godly femininity with which the book closes in chapter 31. That is why Proverbs has proved to be worth its weight in gold in every age and culture. Ken Wingate now brings it into our needy culture, and I for one am grateful to him for sharing his gift as a father with other fathers – and mothers, and sons and daughters too.
Here then is a book for parents to read on their own; for teenagers to read on their own; for parents and teenagers, who are willing to take the family challenge, to read round the table after dinner or on other occasions. It points us to God’s way. It promises us God’s grace. What could be better for us than that?
Lessons from Proverbs
The Foreword to Kenneth B. Wingate’s new Banner of Truth book1 There is a long and honourable tradition in the English-speaking world of lawyers who have distinguished themselves not only in their profession as attorneys, but in the exemplary way in which they have served their cities, states and nations with great distinction. The southern […]
A Father’s Gift – Lessons from Proverbs
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