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Dad Enough to Sing

“The church is meant to sing,” says songwriter and worship-leader Bob Kauflin. “In different times in church history, churches have established singing schools.” It’s Christians who have reason to sing, whatever our circumstances. Christian dads have a hope deeper than any trouble, not only to steady our own souls, but to build into our families, by opening our mouths with song.

Every Heart Engaged

But not only do we make our homes happier through song. When Daddy sings, he inspires the hearts of his children to grow and flourish, not just their minds and bodies. As the sound of joy, song is a language of the heart. Filling life with music and song is a way to encourage and cultivate the heart, rather than suppress it.

Singing to and with our children, says Kauflin, “engages kids’ hearts like normal speaking doesn’t.” Song not only teaches truths, but helps us to feel the gospel—and as dads, we not only want to shepherd our children’s outer lives, but their inner person as well.

But what should we sing, and when, and how?

1. Sing Scripture

What better lyrics to put to music than the very words of God himself? I still remember Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em in Your Heart lyrics from my childhood, and our family has enjoyed learning Seeds Family Worship songs in the car (especially the album on The Character of God). Many other good options exist. No doubt, some have put Scripture to bad music. I wouldn’t recommend confusing your kids’ musical palette with cheesy music, but you can seek out those who are doing it well.

Most of us aren’t able to write our own songs, but you might be surprised what you’re able to do if you give it a try.

2. Cultivate the Habit of Song

Spontaneous singing around the house and in the car shows our kids the overflow of joy in our hearts. But how do you cultivate a habit of song that will overflow into spontaneous moments? Through creating some structure that brings song regularly into your family’s life. It could be singalong songs in the car, or at bedtime or mealtime. Structure and spontaneity aren’t enemies here. Structure produces spontaneity.

When I take the kids out to breakfast on Saturday mornings, I take the drive as a cue to teach them a song. We’re now working through “A Mighty Fortress.” They’re able to catch on quicker than I would have expected. For a while, we taught “Stronger” at bedtime and encouraged the boys to sing along as they learned it. Try different triggers, and look for what works in your family life.

3. Sing Through Unpleasant Tasks

Take a page from Mary Poppins and sing your way through unpleasant tasks. A spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down—and so does a song about medicine. Consider singing when it’s time for the kids to take their medicine—or at diaper change. This has been one of my favorite parts of trying to be a singing dad.

How much good will it do our children to hear Daddy sing not only in the happiest moments, but also during unpleasant chores?

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.